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Shopwatch: Jigsaw's Emporium store

Jigsaw has combined three elements in its one-off Emporium concept in Mayfair.

When Drapers visits Jigsaw’s new one-off Emporium store at 55 Duke Street on a sunny day in London, the first thing that grabs the attention are the customers relaxing and enjoying their coffees outside.

The 6,000 sq ft double-fronted, two-floor shop in Mayfair opened on April 28 and has been designed with a lifestyle concept in mind. “I think it’s the convergence of everything you love about retail,” says the contemporary retailer’s chief executive Peter Ruis, seated in the cafe area just inside the front door. He describes it as “the next stage in our regeneration” and says it offers “an old-fashioned shopping experience”.

The store is at the centre of the Jigsaw brand, says Ruis. “When I joined last autumn I knew about our history of lovely shops, and around the country you always find the nicest building in the town is our shop. So I walked past one day and builders were working on this. We just thought this is a must-have building.”

Surveying the outside of the premises - part of a block built between 1890-92, designed by ecclesiastical architect WD Caroe - Ruis explains that “the building is king”, hence the name Emporium, which in turn adds a touch of mystery. The store - which all-in represents a £900,000 investment - also presented an opportunity to bring in Jigsaw-owned Chelsea boutique The Shop at Bluebird. A window and smaller area at the front left of the store on the ground floor is given over to Bluebird, whose brands include Helmut Lang and Theory.

To the right of the store, the cafe is run by London chain Fernandez & Wells, which beat off 20 other contenders. “This isn’t just any coffee,” says Ruis. “They [Jorge Fernandez and Rick Wells] change their coffee four times a year - it’s like wine to them.”
In the cafe a vintage 1978 jukebox bought by Ruis is filled with vinyl classics - again all bought by the chief executive just one week before - with Madonna’s Lucky Star playing when Drapers arrives. Next to this is a small selection of coffee table books, on subjects from fashion photography to cycling.

“I wanted the store to be quite analogue. I didn’t want flashing screens or photography,” says Ruis.

In fact, the sorts of in-store technologies that the high street is awash with are notably absent. “You come to the shop to experience it - if you want to do something digital you take out your own equipment and use our Wi-Fi. Why would I give you a dodgy screen that is worse than your own technology?”

Most of the ground floor is given over to Jigsaw womenswear, priced at £24 for a classic modal vest with lace trim to £169 for a belted mac, with men’s in the corner. Menswear was relaunched last year and now makes up around 6% of total sales; Ruis describes it as “quite cool in feel but probably less commercial than our womenswear”. Here Jigsaw’s own brand [from £29 for a mélange T-shirt to £240 for a micro-dot suit jacket] is mixed in with brands such as Levi’s and Grenson shoes. The ‘analogue’ feel runs throughout, with signage replaced by carved etchings on the concrete tills and wooden doors, and with numerous pieces of artwork creating an exhibition-style experience - all of which, along with the beautiful 1950s and 1960s period furniture, is for sale.

Downstairs the building’s Victorian-era ceiling adds character, and here customers will find Jigsaw’s footwear (from £35 for plimsolls to £160 for leather lace-up boots) and accessories (from £29 for a leather crescent purse to £140 for a leather rucksack) merchandised with Bluebird brands Lucy Choi and See by Chloé. “It’s one of our fastest-growing areas. It [accessories] had been neglected in the past,” says Ruis. Here too, a wall-mounted display of mannequins projected onto the ceiling is about as tech-heavy as the store gets. A small selection of kidswear, Jigsaw Junior, is also sold here, priced from £19 to £59.

Jigsaw’s PR team is also moving into a 500 sq ft space in the basement, where customers can peer through and potentially catch glimpses of the next season’s collection, with models or famous faces popping in. “We wanted everyone to see the business of fashion,” says Ruis. “Post-recession we [the industry] are in a different position with landlords where we have better deals and people can take more risks.” And if that means more stores like Emporium, that can only be a good thing.

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