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John Lewis opens experiential menswear space with VIP services

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today Dec 9, 2019
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John Lewis’s plan to boost its menswear offer has taken a major step forward with the opening of its revamped Oxford Street, London flagship's menswear department. The 20,000 sq ft space has been completely made-over by John Lewis’s in-house retail design team, “reflecting a modern, calming aesthetic”. 


John Lewis's revamped Oxford Street menswear floor



It includes a VIP area called The Speak Easy, a clubhouse space that, in line with its name, is accessible via a concealed doorway hidden behind some display shelves. There’s also a 1,000 sq ft event space called The Pitch that will host workshops and other happenings.

The plan for the floor was announced a few months ago when the company said that it was making “its most significant investment in menswear to date.” This included two “completely transformed own-brands” (John Lewis & Partners and Kin) and the new experiential flagship experience for Oxford Street.

The new Speak Easy space sums this up with comfortable seating and even a bar. It’s described as “the world’s smallest clubhouse” and customers can book what the retailer has dubbed the Ultimate Menswear Experience, a two-hour personal styling session, hosted there. During the session, the firm’s Style Advisors can advise on everything from tailoring to weekend-wear. 

“This Speak Easy room ensures the customer feels like number one, there is room to relax and the chance to take some real time out,” John Lewis said. “Customers can take a seat at the bar in the fitting room, enjoy a drink of their choice such as a tumbler of Highland Park Single Malt, a bottle of craft ale or a Fentimans soft drink and choose from a selection of snacks”. 

The bookable VIP session costs £75 upfront but ultimately only costs £25 as the other £50 can be redeemed against a purchase.

And that session doesn’t have to be fashion-only but can also look at grooming products and fragrance. The grooming-focused VIP customer could also book services such a brow shaping, a facial or manicures within The Speak Easy space.

THE SHOP FLOOR

The company added that it’s “demystifying the menswear shopping experience” and that for customers browsing on the shop floor itself, the department hosts a team of dedicated, approachable ‘Walk and Talk’ Style Advisors, with advice hints and tips. 

For a more focused session, customers can also take advantage of an appointment-based styling service in the menswear styling room. Appointments can be made for one of five mission-focused styling sessions. 

The retailer added that “extensive feedback and research suggests that men find trying on clothes the least enjoyable part of the experience, so in response, John Lewis is re-imagining fitting rooms, introducing a luxurious, masculine aesthetic and a new Walk-In Wardrobe concept”.


John Lewis's new Speak Easy VIP clubhouse



This is “a collection of modern changing rooms where the focus is getting the customer what they need — quickly. Partners within this space will be able to make suggestions on potential looks and trends and source pieces instantly – introducing new ideas and possibilities”.

And as for the streamlined open-plan retail floor itself, it “features clean lines, carefully curated product edits and dedicated dwell areas for customers, making for a more comfortable and easier shopping experience”. Digital screens are also there to “offer a dynamic platform for collections to be brought to life alongside updates on services, creating an inspiring space with a truly welcoming look and feel”. 

“We know that as a rule, men shop quite differently to women so we have created a space and a service with men in mind,” Peter Cross, Customer Experience Director at the chain, said. “This could range from a handpicked edit of seasonal must-haves, a trusted second opinion in our walk-in wardrobes or a luxurious Speak Easy appointment. Or it could be a lifestyle event in store where they might learn a new skill or the chance to get advice from our new suite of styling & VIP services. Whatever the service our customers choose, we believe we've taken the pain out of shopping for menswear and made it something they will enjoy.”

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