Is it a shop or a magazine? Or both?

The trend for magazines and newspapers to partner with retail is on the up. US Vogue started the whole thing off with Vogue.TV in 2008, an online entertainment network that viewers can shop as they watch and where you can even buy straight from the ads (although the site now seems somewhat neglected).

Newspapers are also increasingly linking their online fashion coverage to etailers where readers can buy featured fashion items straight from the page thanks to innovations like which operates Guardian Fashion Store. Another Magazine recently opened Another Shop in collaboration with Colette selling original limited edition fashion items by favoured brands and designers.

The latest news is that Purple magazine has launched Purple Boutique with an exclusive Olympia le Tan minaudière. Le Tan’s book-shaped Liberty-print lined clutches caught my eye at the Browns press day. For Purple Boutique, a design has been created using the cover of John Wyllie’s 1950s novel Johnny Purple as inspiration.

With Net-a-Porter producing its regular online magazine and other etailers adding to their unique editorial content, the lines between magazines and retailers are becoming increasingly blurred. Where will this go?

Liberty + Merci = perfect match

If you were overwhelmed by all the Liberty print hook-ups in 2009 then tough titty, there’s even more in store for 2010. At the SS10 preview we saw Liberty print watch-straps and these pretty-as-you-like Liberty print Repettos – watch them fly faster than the Nikes
Even better than that is the news that Liberty will launch a collection in collaboration with French concept store Merci. Merci’s owner Marie-France Cohen has magicked up a homeware and fashion collection that plays heavily on Liberty’s Carnaby Street location which also ties in with Carnaby Street’s 50-year celebrations. The range will be sold in Merci in Paris as well as a pop-up Merci store in Liberty. Best get over your floral fear fast…

And now for something completely different

If 2009 was the year of the pop-up shop, then 2010 is set to be the year of the concept store. In the UK (OK, London), Dover Street Market and The Shop at Bluebird first set the tone, Liberty followed suit with its personal touches and now Anthropologie has raised the bar further. Couturelab, the online luxury portal recently opened its beautiful concept store on Davies Street, an outlet that is just as compelling as its online counterpart. Meanwhile, Darkroom (above) has just opened in Lambs Conduit Street selling under-the-radar fashion alongside interiors with in-store exhibitions a major focus.

Come January, Harvey Nichols London’s newly spruced-up fourth floor is set to be the next big buzz. It will have a concept store feel with a frequently evolving product mix including exclusive and limited edition collections, a Lanvin ‘supermarket of luxury’ curated by Alber himself and a buy-it-or-regret-it collection of vintage magazines (ooh), furniture (aah) and books (I’ll take ’em all).

The keyword for concept stores seems to be ‘edit’. It’s all about the precise mix of labels and the perfect ratio between new, vintage and limited edition. I think the other key point is to keep things changing constantly. Every time I visit a store I want to discover a surprise, something that wasn’t there before. It’s all part of the experience, otherwise why brave the crowds when I can shop online anytime and pretty much anywhere?
By the way, the concept store trend isn’t limited to London. There is a major luxury concept store arriving in Manchester in February 2010. Hervia, the company responsible for eight of Vivienne Westwood’s standalone stores is behind Hervia Bazaar, an impressive-sounding retail space and etail site. Designers slated for the store include Comme Des Garcons, Sibling, Zero+Maria Cornejo, Rick Owens and Gareth Pugh alongside lesser-known names such as shoesmiths Michael Lewis and Atlanta Weller.

Exciting, no? Watch this space for further updates…