It’s officially official – spring has sprung! High five to Harvey Nichols for picking the warmest and sunniest day of the year so far to launch their clever new retail concept. It’s a pop-up… caravan! Kind of. The ‘Hub’ arrived at Hanover Square today, a touring trailer that has cherry-picked the funnest wares from Harvey Nichols’ new fourth floor.
The Hub goes on a mini London tour for the next few days so tomorrow it’s at the Southbank Centre (10-7), Saturday it’s at Westbourne Grove (10-5) and Sunday it’s at Spitalfields Market (10-5).
I arrived at Hanover Square in time to witness a wee gig by Daisy Dares You – never heard of them but readers, J’adore!
Inside the hub it’s a veritable fun-fest (how many times am I going to say ‘fun’ in this post? Lots) – vending machines, a photobooth, temporary Will Broome tattoos and all the knick knacky (read: affordable) bits of the Harvey Nicks fourth floor offer. I saw Assouline fashion books, Comme des Garcons wallets, Kidrobot figures, Audio Chi headphones (I have a pair of these… ???), oh and many, many trendy trainers from the Harvey Nichols Trainer Wall.
Trainer mania. It’s insania! Win a Markus Lupfer crystal bear! Chanel tats? Pfft, très passé. It’s all about a Will Broome transfer… Lanvin alert! All in all a great, fun concept. Loving your work Harvey Nichols peeps.
Following the opening of its first London store in Regent Street, Anthropologie opens its King’s Road store on 19th March.
This is quite important, not only because it’s another Anthropologie store (AKA, the most beautiful-looking chain in the world) but because it will bring footfall to the King’s Road and other stores are sure to follow. What do we have in the King’s Road already? The Shop At Bluebird of course, towards World’s End and Jack Wills in the middle. Even if you’re not the Jack Wills ‘type’, there’s no denying that the stores, styled to the nth degree, are something to behold. The King’s Road branch has a coffee shop on the top floor (but shhh, don’t tell anyone) and hosts gigs in the basement. The fixtures and fittings are the best type of antiquey shabby-chic with a bit of faux-punk rebellious teen thrown in. There have been rumours of A Very Well Known US Designer sniffing around for a store nearby too but I’m not sure how reliable they are.
Back (way back) in the day, there was a clutch of superb shops between Vivienne Westwood’s World’s End shop and where The Shop At Bluebird resides now. As well as American Classics (the best used Levi’s 501s this side of the Atlantic), there was The Emperor of Wyoming (more vintage Americana), Liberated Lady (’80s interpretations of ’50s fashion) and Johnny Moke (the shoe dude). A bit further along was Eat Your Heart Out, another vintage store where I once bought a long black crepe Biba dress. Funnily enough I recently found out that it was run by vintage dealer Graham Cassie who now runs Cassie Mercantile. He probably sold it to me and I recently donated it back to him!
Not far from where Anthropologie is opening – on the former site of Antiquarius Antiques – was Flip, a smaller outpost of the legendary Covent Garden second-hand Americana store. This was the place to find love-worn baseball jackets, sweatshirts, prom dresses and tube socks – absolute bliss…
Of course Anthropologie is a far cry from those vintage dens and characterful hangouts but the point is, it’s a start. Retail needs to get people interested in discovering shops again, whether they’re vintage stores, toy shops, bookshops or funny little cowboy boot shops. Let’s see who else arrives in the King’s Road after Anthro…
So finally, the unveiling of Harvey Nichols’ new 4th floor of contemporary fashion. First impressions were of a minimalist, London version of Colette. The store has pitched the new fashion floor as having a ‘concept store feel’ and it will be constantly evolving with new lines, products, exhibitions and installations. This I like. But I have to say, not much of this was in evidence on the first day. I have to give them props for opening on time however and I always try not to judge too harshly on first impressions as I think with anything, things generally take a while to fall into place.
Aside from the bright modernity of the space, the things that reminded me of Colette were the affordable gifty items – Assouline books, Opening Ceremony tote bags, Ambush lighters, iPods… not much that I haven’t seen before. There is an impressive selection of vintage Chanel bags, which you can also get at D & Me and Matches so nice as they were, I wasn’t knocked out. The promised vintage magazines don’t seem to be on view yet.
The long-awaited trainer wall boasts studded Converse by What Goes Around Comes Around, zebra-print ponyskin Keds by Opening Ceremony and the new Louboutin trainers. And clothing-wise there is representation from a wealth of ‘It Brit’ labels (Mary Katrantzou, Richard Nicoll, Markus Lupfer…) as well as cool hipster brands (Marc by Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Acne, See by Chloe). Alongside these are the label-lover brands – D&G, Anglomania – while the ‘supermarket of luxury’ curated by Alber Elbaz looks to me to be a sweet but limited array of Lanvin knick knacks – Umbrellas! Fans! China figurines! Expensive pencils!
I’m not sure who it’s all aimed at. Earlier reports suggested that Harvey Nichols was hoping to entice a Peaches Geldof demographic but would a Peaches or Cory Kennedy wear D&G? Although there’s a hint of the cool, streety Colette vibe with the books and lighters and gifty things, the fashion still seems to me to be the same Harvey Nicks labels I have been seeing for the last few seasons. Overall, it’s not a bad start but it could do with some of the buzz of the Marc by Marc Jacobs store or the unexpected variety of Anthropologie. I would like to see more surprises round every corner … hopefully that’s to come.
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 LynkU.com 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?