In an age where just about everything is digital, from grocery shopping to travel bookings, banking to fashion, there’s ever-more pressure on retailers to entice people into stores to experience a tangible version of the brand – the lifestyle element, if you will. Here, we look at the bricks and mortar fashion stores in London that are well worth ditching your laptop for.
Discover the best concept stores in London here.
Sitting at the cusp of innovation, Burberry is a brand that fuses fashion with technology in the most seamless manner. Whether it’s the time-saving benefits of in-store staff processing sales through an iPad attached to their hip or the larger-than-life screens that welcome customers and present the latest ad campaigns in impressively precise quality, a trip to the Regent Street flagship is a shopping experience like none other. The planned launch of a second 15,000 square-foot space on Sloane Street is set to be similarly as impactful. Can’t get to the store? The brand holds significant digital presence as well, of course. Download its app to play around with bespoke filters or track its global domination on Instagram stories.
When done right, a concept store can transform traditional perceptions of shopping and instead embody the experience element of retail. Goodhood is London’s most coveted case in point. Positioned in the east of the city and boasting over 200 meticulously chosen brands spanning menswear, womenswear, homewares and cosmetics, there’s a sense of passion at the heart of this Shoreditch hotspot. It invites inspirational industry insiders to collaborate, most recently welcoming London-based illustrator Jiro Bevis to sketch out its Christmas 2017 campaign.
There’s a certain magic that’s reserved solely for the inside of an Anthropologie store and unlike most modern-day retailers, it’s something that we think simply needs to be shopped in person. The closest thing we’ve found to discovering Narnia in central London, both the King’s Road and Regent Street stores present an eclectic mix of product, from homeware keepsakes (like the agate coasters that we’re wish-listing) to beautifully made hero fashion pieces that will stay in your wardrobe for seasons to come. Expect unique extras like a full wall of foliage and a design-your-own furniture feature and make sure you take a trip to the changing rooms, where the creativity continues.
New kid on the block Arket is part of the H&M group and it brings its Scandi-cool, minimalistic aesthetic to the Regent Street portfolio along with an in-store coffee shop serving up delicious sweet treats alongside your caffeine fix. When it comes to interior design, there’s little shopping space more meticulously organized, and it’s a far cry from aforementioned Anthropologie, but it’s equally as enchanting. Simplistic silhouettes sometimes need to be seen in person to communicate their beauty and it’s not until you try on knits, tailored separates and outerwear in this mecca of all-things capsule wardrobe that you’ll fully appreciate the Arket quality.
If there’s one fashion retailer that you’d think wouldn’t need a pop-up store in London it’s Zara, but the Stratford Westfield branch is under renovation and its temporary replacement is an innovative click-and-collect concept store. Technology is at its core and whilst sales assistants are equipped with iPads to check stock levels and sizes, much like those in every other Zara space in the city, there’s also a digital styling tool installed in the mirrors whereby you can scan barcodes for advice on what best to team your chosen item with. Customers can also pay via Bluetooth or make the most of the click-and-collect feature and pick up their order the very same day. Is this a hint at what the future holds for this Inditex-owned brand? Perhaps, but for now we’re enjoying the novelty of it all while we can.
A little slice of New York-cool in the heart of Shoreditch, Modern Society is not one to be missed, with its dark wood fixtures, forest green marble and expert curation of contemporary designs spanning fashion, jewellery, coffee table books and the odd bit of keepsake crockery. Expect the latest from buzzword names such as Rejina Pyo and Shop Redone as well as the Modern Society own-label collection – a series of slogan sweatshirts, tees and cosy knits – all arranged on minimalist rails and artfully dotted about the small but well-designed split-floor space. Not in the mood to shop? There’s a coffee bar and a small food menu to sample. Just settle in to the window tables and watch the world go by. It’s our favourite place to stop with a laptop or some magazines on a lazy weekend morning.
Arguably the most iconic bricks and mortar store in London, Liberty has been making history since its opening in 1875. Stunning from the outside and quirky on the inside, it’s the kind of space that you could get lost in for hours, following its windy staircases and low, wooden beam-clad ceilings on the hunt for something unique. The florist at the front doors is perhaps one of the most famous elements of the store and it’s been there since launch – a fact that has us questioning whether it’s Liberty that initially set fashion retails now essential ‘lifestyle’ shopping element all those years ago.
The beauty of a pop-up store is that it lends itself to innovative, novelty interior design, and Maje on Regent Street is exemplary of this very notion. Every wall, ceiling, floor and door is painted millennial pink and printed with anecdotal quotes from a collaboration with poet Greta Bellamacina. Themed products are also available to purchase and there’s a postbox on the wall to slot your letters of love into, offering a tangible, lighthearted point of difference and a reason to go into the store. A carefully curated edit from the current collection is also available to shop, of course, but this distinctive store is one that’s certainly more about the experience (and the Instagram shot) than it is the hard sell.