Conversations surrounding the death of retail are tiresome. It is true: the robots are coming and replacing jobs. Sure, consumers’ lives are more fluid and the opportunity for their attention is increasingly harder to attain. And yes, traditional retail models are redundant. But retail it is not dead. If anything, this is the most exciting time for retail. On a cusp of a fourth revolution, brands have the opportunity to truly pioneer a new path and redefine the retail landscape.
As we move confidently forward in to this new era of retail, the conception of showroom spaces is an innovative example of how the industry is changing and for the better.
Let’s ruminate on John Lewis’ apartment store that inhabited the retailer’s flagship on Oxford St and the Cambridge and Liverpool stores. Dubbed as ‘The Residence’, consumers were invited into the alluring apartment space so they could experience the home collection in a highly visual and experiential context. True to the experience driven economy of the times, consumers could dine, brunch and sleep in the concept space. Since Arianna Huffington’s Sleep Revolution book launched in 2016, getting enough shuteye has well and truly been the wellness speak of 2017. CEO’s credit their success to sleep and as consequence, we are seeing more brands promote sleep as a means of engagement to court self-betterment pursuing consumers.
At the heart of London’s effervescent Soho lies Alex Eagle Studio, an apartment-style space. True to the creative character of the neighbourhood, the fashion retailer is merchandised as an apartment, whereby consumers navigate a journey of items that mirrors a magazine edit. Here clothes, books, furniture, music, food and homeware can be explored in a lifestyle offering.
In a similar fashion and surreptitiously situated on a side street in Angel, Paper Mache Tiger entices with its coffee shop character and plants that charm through front windows.
The store began its journey as a fashion showroom and opened its door for trade access only. However, transgressing this tradition fashion showroom model, Paper Mache Tiger has embraced a business model of a retailer. Beyond the glowing pastries that sit in the coffee shop, consumers will find products from brands that Paper Mache Tiger represent. As such, the store signals a rise of showroom spaces in retail.
Recently opened and also gesturing a new era for retail, Galvan London is a brand showroom come retail boutique, workspace and studio. Moving from the traditional model of being an industry only space, Galvin London sets the stage for a new precedent of invite everyone spaces. Set in the heart of Notting Hill, consumers are greeted by greenery from the moment they step in and are able to enjoy a calming ambiance.
What these showroom spaces have in common is that they seduce with intimacy and context. They resonate with the fluidity of consumer lifestyles. Consumers are invited to a world of experience. Thus showroom spaces are a meaningful tool to not only reinvent retail but also invite consumers to form a deeper connection with a brand.