Retail remix – thoughts running through my head

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This is just me emptying my head of all the nuggets of retail biz info I’ve picked up lately. The original premise of the blog was for me to park these thoughts while I mulled them over, so apologies for the half-baked quality but needs must…

Post-recessionary retail spells good news for the consumer. As customers start spending again, each retailer hopes it will be with them. They’re certainly trying harder than ever to catch our attention. Online and offline, the buy is getting bolder and the merchandising more exciting. Editorial content was the big story last year but this year it feels like product and curation are key. There’s so much more competition these days that a clear point of view seems to be the thing that will most hook consumers and make us want to spend.

Pop-ups are the obvious way to grab attention and induce excitement – both in customers and press. Harrods has embraced the luxury pop-up this year (have you seen its latest Fendi Bag Bugs pop-up?) and Selfridges announced in a trend briefing last week that it will be going mad for pop-ups in 2014. Pop-ups have become a safe option for retailers, serving as a simple way to test the market before fully committing to a brand or a location.


Meanwhile, for etailers, it’s all about the hunt for new labels to give a fresh point of difference. This is good news for emerging designers so it’s great to see our big etailers like Matchesfashion, Avenue 32 and My-wardrobe backing them. Ruth Chapman tells me that her Matches customers really respond to their young designer buy, while Avenue 32 has put brands including Vassilisa, Danielle Romeril and Myrza De Muynck (below) on my radar.

Myrza De Muynck 2Myrza De Muynck 1

Mixing price points is an emerging trend for multi-brand stores. At Harvey Nichols’ SS14 trend briefing this week I picked up on the buy for Tamara Mellon’s new brand (below), both the RTW and the shoes (wonder how that will go down with Jimmy Choo – AKA one of Harvey Nichols’ most popular footwear brands?). What’s different for this line is its aim to be a buy-now-wear-now label at an entry-level price point. That means ‘accessible luxury’ pieces that drop in season, more akin to the high street model than the traditional ready-to-wear one, but with better quality. The Harvey Nichols buyers admitted to frustration with having to sell coats in August and swimwear in February so might this be the game-changer?


My-wardrobe has been going through its own changes this year, with a decidedly more mixed approach. New chief executive Andrew Curran announced this week that its strategy going forward will be to focus on the lower price points of its brands. Added to that is the arrival of upper end high street label Whistles (due at My-wardrobe from SS14) and footwear brand Kurt Geiger London, which is currently selling key styles on My-wardrobe. It’s been a tough time for My-wardrobe lately so we’ll have to see how this all pans out.

Offline, I can hardly keep up with all the new London luxury openings. If it’s not Mount Street or Bruton Street, it’s the regeneration of Brompton Cross. And then there’s the unstoppable gentrification of Shoreditch. Redchurch Street in particular has been so interesting to watch, not least with all the rumours of Prada, Paul Smith and Ralph Lauren sniffing around.

Hostem is a Redchurch Street gem and about to launch its new women’s floors. I’ve been in to have a look and it’s one of the few stores that give you the ‘I must buy something – anything!’ feeling when you walk in. There’s a very select edit of product – a good balance of well known and newer names. My favourites are Faustine Steinmetz and P. R Patterson, whose netted felt Amish hats are just stunning. Also, don’t miss the steel parquet flooring that’s as beautiful as the merchandise – yes, this is that kind of store. On the ground floor, Hostem has also expanded its Santa Maria Novella offer, moving it to the back window where it has its own entrance (below). Santa Maria Novella is becoming the go-to beauty brand for a certain type of artisan-appreciating fashion consumer and it absolutely adds to the reverent Hostem experience.


Fashion stores have always sold beauty products but it feels like they’re giving beauty and wellness a much bigger presence now. Celestine Eleven (below) which recently opened a stone’s throw from Redchurch street in Holywell Lane, is an ‘alternative luxury concept store’ selling the likes of J.W Anderson and AF Vandevorst alongside lifestyle products and plant-based skincare. What makes Celestine Eleven different is its holistic bent. There are perfume playground workshops, yoga classes and Reiki healing on offer, plus sound bath meditation classes. All of which link to LS:N Global’s emerging beauty retail trends that I covered recently.

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I also love another under-radar opening from earlier this year. Mouki (below) opened quietly in Marylebone’s Chiltern Street (Chiltern Street – that’s a whole other post in itself!) last May. It’s one of those wonderfully unique boutiques that you need to experience for yourself. Owner Maria Lemos is better known as the name behind Rainbowwave, the influential sales agency, but this store is a world away from ‘fashion fashion’. Instead it’s a tranquil haven that mixes global fashion finds (45RPM, Dosa, Wendy Nichol bags) with enduring lifestyle items and ‘beauty products that will make every day special’ . Plus there’s more flooring porn…

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Over at British Beauty Blogger, Jane Cunningham has written a great post on Dior’s new Covent Garden beauty store (below). Like the Chanel beauty boutique (also in Covent Garden, and recently opened as a pop-up at Heathrow Airport), this heralds a new generation of premium beauty retail. It’s got luxury and glamour written all over it but its accessible price points for products and services are clearly targeted at younger customers.

Also chiming with this ‘new gen beauty retail’ trend are two ‘fast fix’ beauty salons that have recently launched in London. Blow (below) in Covent Garden (clearly Covent Garden is the new beauty destination) is the brainchild of ex-Grazia editor Fiona McIntosh and Dharmash Mistry, offering high fashion hair and makeup services to girls on the go. Meanwhile, the Cheeky Parlour in Redchurch Street (bottom) is the latest concept from Nick Jones of Soho House and Cowshed fame. It’s an affordable, cafe-like hangout where you can get ready for a night out with your girlfriends, no appointment needed. Convivial, speedy, affordable, yet indulgent seem to be the common threads in experiential beauty retail…

[IMAGES top to bottom:
Celestine Eleven
Myrza De Mynck
Tamara Mellon
Santa Maria Novella/Hostem
Celestine Eleven x 2
Mouki x 2
Jason Lloyd Evans for Parfums Christian Dior
Blow Ltd
Cheeky Parlour]