retail news

Breaking news: Church’s to open standalone women’s store


News just in: Forget Louis Vuitton, Prada and Chanel, the only shoe destination you need in New Bond Street is about to open at number 163. Formerly a mens shoe shop, the new standalone Church’s store, ‘Lady Bond’ (according to my mole) will be dedicated to women’s shoes in unique colorways. These shoes will be made in Italy ( thanks to the Prada connection?) as opposed to Northampton.

I’m praying for highly-polished brogues, oxfords and lounge slippers in Laduree macaron shades – not much to ask I’m sure you’ll agree. ETA: end of November.

First look: Louis Vuitton London Maison

When I mentioned the opening of the Louis Vuitton UK flagship to D (aka Mr Disneyrollergirl) on Tuesday, he didn’t hide his disdain. “I’ve seen it. I passed it yesterday, it looks like something out of Dubai airport via Stanstead. Deeply tacky,” was his damning assessment. He may have curled his lip.

The Louis Vuitton Maison is the most expensive luxury goods shop ever opened in London. Yves Carcelle, worldwide boss of the brand won’t put a figure on it but speculative guesses suggest at least £30million was spent on this temple to consumerism. And yes, it does score high on the glitz-o-meter. This 1500 square meter space boasts a watch shop, a sunglasses shop, a lit-up glass staircase and an entire wall of vintage suitcases – and that’s just a wee part of the ground floor. To highlight Vuitton’s relationship with contemporary art, there are priceless artworks by the likes of Gilbert & George, Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons. For the opening, Brit artist Michael Landy has been commissioned to create a mad sculpture that draws doodles and cuts up credit cards. All around are dotted mini piles of art tomes and there is even an art bookshop in the middle of the first floor (but sadly an embargo meant no photos).

Next to the bookshop is a small exhibition space which currently houses a Katie Grand-curated arrangement of mannequins wearing a ‘greatest hits’ mish-mash of Marc Jacobs for Vuitton outfits, complete with bags on their heads, ho ho! Actually, the fun factor is the best bit about the store. “I said, ‘I’d like to make a store that when you went in you wouldn’t mind spending half a day in there, rather than getting the bag and getting out’,” architect Peter Marino told the Evening Standard. “If people are nice enough to come in, you owe them a good time. Why go shopping if it’s not fun, glamorous, different?” By the way, the store design is all Marino’s work, Marc Jacobs doesn’t get involved in shop-fits.

From the humorous Louis Vuitton planets orbiting an area devoted to logo hair clips and bangles, to the mechanical sliding shelves that play peekaboo with handbags and scarves, to Murakami’s martian sculpture, there are plenty of playful elements that bring a bit of wit to the serious business of luxury. They certainly help to make luxury accessible, as do the offer of affordable knick knacks from keyrings, to sunglasses, to a £5 George Orwell paperback sold in the ‘librarie’. The store opens tomorrow. Tacky or not, the customers are sure to flock.

The wall of vintage trunks
The plastic planets
Takashi Murakami’s Kiki
At the ‘bag bar’, these cubes slide from left to right in a playful puzzle
More sliding panels in the scarf area
A wall of animal-print scarves, a work of art in themselves
Flower-lined monogrammed wallets
Naturally, the floor is logo-ed
Monogramming kit
Ugh, let’s not talk about these…
The Katie Grand exhibition

Sofia Coppola for Louis Vuitton

The Michael Landy sculpture
A console table laden with art books in the lift lobby
Vintage furnishings throughout

Yep, a piano in the shoe department. Of course!

I had to delete my bookshop photos but I found this one on a blog. There are all manner of art and photography books including some of my favourite artists – Elizabeth Peyton, Martin Parr, Bridget Riley, Tim Noble and Sue Webster

UPDATE: Watch the sliding wall in action!

Levi’s gets its groove back

Last week I blogged about the heritage of Dr Martens. This week, the heritage baton gets passed to Levi’s. I was treated to a pre-opening store tour of the refurbed Regent Street flagship a couple of weeks ago and the main message seems to be… Levi’s is keepin’ it real.

From its industrial factory-replica refit to its new name for its denim experts – ‘drapers’ and ‘artisans’, Levi’s has realised that its customers respect its roots and is capitalising on that. OK, the ‘artisans’ moniker is a wee bit pretentious but I’m prepared to let that go. For a while, Levi’s was guilty of trying too hard to compete with the Diesels of this world but – guess what? – Levi’s isn’t about ‘sexy’, it’s about utilitarianism and authenticity. Thankfully, it is now properly embracing its workwear heritage and amen to that. A particular highlight of the flagship store (along with the visible warehouse dedicated to 501s) is a 90-something-year-old pair of Levi’s on display in the basement. Unearthed from a mine in the Mojave Desert, I ask you, how many other denim brands can boast one of these?

When I previewed the SS10 collection six months ago, I was overjoyed to see so many old favourites. Hello classic denim jacket sans faux-faded patches! Hello western plaid shirt! Hello straight-out-of-CBGBs leather biker jacket! The Guardian recently reported that Levi’s will never be cool again but I disagree. Acne may be popular with fashionistas and Uniqlo with the downtown hipster set but Levi’s has its incredible heritage and that makes it relevant again (BTW, ‘relevance’, like ‘heritage’ is a key word being bandied about right now). Its latest campaign is also a bit of a looker. As a lifelong supporter I may be biased, but I think Levi’s is ready to have it’s moment once more.

Levi’s SS10

Industrial storage
The 501s-only warehouse visible from the shop floor

Unisex fitting rooms and utilitarian seating
THOSE 100-year-old jeans

Primark vs New Look

Newsflash: Primark’s arrival in Marble Arch is imminent, as the store frontage is up and the battle looks set to commence between Primark and New Look. I’ll be interested to see how they battle it out. Pros and cons…

Good points – they have Giles and Lily Allen doing exclusives with them and their new Shoe Heaven range is a massive hit
– they are soon to start selling online
Bad points – merchandising leaves a lot to be desired and those weird trolley things – what the hell are they about?

Good points – they are so stupidly cheap you can’t not buy something
Bad points – the stupidly cheap bubble is sure to burst as clearly, if it’s cheap it can’t be ethical
– queuing is traumatic to say the least and the mess…can it really be worth it?
-everyone and her granny will be shopping there

Hmm, New Look are winning so far, let’s see how it all pans out…