New Selfridges men's streetwear room has skate bowl, gender-neutral edge
Selfridges is continuing to focus on experiences as it upgrades its Oxford Street, London flagship and on Monday unveiled an innovative 18,000 sq ft menswear destination, complete with Britain's only free permanent wooden skate bowl.
The Designer Street Room “breakthrough” retail concept is dedicated to menswear “but welcoming of female shoppers who like to buy men’s fashion.” It’s anchored by that wooden skate bowl that looks set to become a major attraction and could fill the room with the sneaker-obsessed, streetwear-loving Gen Z and Millennial consumers who could help boost the cool factor of the space.
Other innovations include a permanent custom-built Land Rover Defender on display, complete with Selfridges branding; a custom-built speaker wall and the space able to transform into a venue for events and music launches; and a brand new category for the room with grooming hosted by Acqua Di Parma, which will house its first Barbiere concept outside of Italy.
But the big story (apart from that skate bowl) is the menswear line-up that “will present luxury, street and progressive fashion product together for the first time in one area.” With streetwear frequently presented separately from ‘regular’ luxury fashion in traditional department stores and often coming across as second best as a result, this is clearly an attempt to put it at the heart of its men’s offer.
The “conceptual pillars” used to develop the Designer Street Room’s identity are fashion, art, music, skate and cars “with a focus on how our customer and partners use these elements as a way to communicate,” the retailer said. “With its original architectural concept, the room will give brands and customers space, acting as a platform for creative output and exchange.”
Selfridges said that it used customer research and insight to see the way street-to-designer menswear categories are shopped today and will increasingly be shopped in the near future. “For this new space, more than ever, customer behaviour and customer demand have been put at the centre of every aspect of the new destination,” it explained. “A new approach has been applied to selecting the brand mix and predicting cross-category shopping; the versatile customer service adapted to respond to all customers regardless of gender; to the floor design layout and architecture; the product replenishment driven by just-in-time fashion stock drops, not just seasonality, plus all customer activities and events within the space.”
The room was designed with Jamie Fobert Architects, which also delivered the women’s Shoe Galleries in 2010 and the women’s Designer Galleries in 2012.
It has a flexible design (“but tough in both material and form”) and is “light-filled” after uncovering the store’s giant windows and restoring the columns and ceilings from the original Selfridges 1909 building.
“Making reference to drive-in movie screens and billboards, an adaptable set of frameworks in mill-finished aluminium was custom-made,” Selfridges said. “The frameworks are industrial, yet light and reflective. The loose-fit construction forms a creative and adaptable backdrop for designers and guests to customise.”
As for the products, the space houses flagships for Gucci, Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh, Stone Island, Amiri, A Cold Wall, A Bathing Ape, Versace and Kenzo.
At launch, an edit of 40 new labels (of a total 88 in the room) has been curated, including ReadyMade from Japan, Warren Lotas, Facetasm and Ader Error. British labels include Ryan Hawaii, Places + Faces, Hey Reilly, Studio Alch, Assid, Saint London, GEO, Corella Lnd, Horn Please, Val Kristopher and Bowl Cut. Some 70% of the labels are independent.
The company is clearly responding to demand out there in the market and also said that it sold 80% more men’s T-shirts in the first half of 2018 compared to 2017. As a result, a dedicated T-shirt destination housing over 30 brands, “with a focus on the cult and hard to find has been created,” it added.
Reflecting the way the modern consumer thinks, labels and projects will drop strategically throughout the year, “segmenting and energising the season.” Chinatown Market is in the room at launch with an exclusive Original Penguin partnership, followed by a Nike recycling programme from London-based Studio Alch, limited edition 1 of 1 sneakers from Fear of God, a worldwide exclusive capsule from A Bathing Ape and Blondey McCoy’s latest ‘art merch’.
Selfridges said that “this is indicative of an intuitive buying strategy that is not characterised by price-point or traditional ideas of ‘department’ or season.”
And it will also be active digitally saying that for launch, Instagram and online store @dotCOMME “bring an original collection of archive Walter van Beirendonck pieces, alongside the SS19 collection chosen by Selfridges buyers. This is the first in a series of digital-to-physical partnerships that will see the room host personal archives and shoppable retrospectives.”
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