The green shoots of recovery mean store openings are picking up pace and big-name retailers are spreading their wings.
The past few months have been heralded as the start of a global economic recovery, not least in the UK.
Retailers have not been slow out of the blocks in anticipation of this and, from high street chains to niche brands, almost all have been looking at their store estates and deciding what might be done to upgrade existing stores or open new ones.
The outcome is a rash of novelty, ranging from expanded use of digital in store, to an almost back-to-basics approach among high-end retailers.
The cut-price fashion purveyor set up shop in Düsseldorf at the end of 2013 and has attracted customers from the other discount fashion operators found on this part of the city’s Schadowstrasse. It does this by offering an environment that does not feel budget, with polished concrete, punched metal screens and digital screens that curve around the mid-shop pillars, all nodding to the city’s industrial past while contributing to a feeling of design. Every new store is supposed to be in touch with its location and feel different from what has gone before, and this one succeeds.
Brand new department stores are thin on the ground these days, but Stuttgart-based Breuninger has put its best foot forward with this store in Düsseldorf. With a curving exterior and five floors that provide a selling area of more than 172,000 sq ft, this is a massive undertaking. And it aims at the top-end segment in this affluent city, sometimes referred to as Germany’s fashion capital. Yet, despite this, this is a new store that is democratic in its approach with something for almost everybody intaerested in fashion.
The US outdoor brand has opened on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, mixing with the likes of House of Fraser, Jack Wills and Urban Outfitters. As such, it is at the better end of the mid-market and the store, which used to be an Arts & Crafts tearoom, has been completely remodelled. It relies on Timberland’s heritage and its iconic yellow boot to make its pitch to the shopper and trades from two floors, with men’s downstairs and the smaller women’s collection on the long mezzanine. Untreated wood is the major design element throughout, in keeping with the brand’s pioneer aura.
Dover Street Market, New York
There’s been a Dover Street Market on Mayfair’s Dover Street since 2004, but the brainchild of Comme des Garçon’s
presiding genius Rei Kawakubo has taken until this year to make it across the Atlantic to the Big Apple. Since January, Manhattan’s distinctly sleepy Murray Hill neighbourhood has played host to a 20,000 sq ft, seven-floor Dover Street Market. Approach this one from the outside and you could be forgiven for not realising it’s there, so low-key is the marketing. But step inside and this is the usual mix of art, clothing and a highly considered interior. As well as Comme des Garçon, the designer line-up also includes Nina Ricci, Lou Dalton, Raf Simons, Saint Laurent and Jil Sander.