Friday, 17 September 2010

Selfridges opens world’s largest shoe department

There are shoe departments and then there are The Shoe Galleries at Selfridges, which take customers on a retail journey of six ‘galleries’, 11 shoe boutiques and 4,000 pairs of shoes on display over a whole floor.

It's a shoe wonderland and beats the recent 'biggest shoe department' record over at Saks in New York hands down.

The Shoe Galleries was designed by architect Jamie Fobert to be a place of exploration within Selfridges, recently voted the world’s best department store. Actually it's like there are layers of shoe rooms to discover and explore from high-street to designer to what I would call uber-designer.

‘Imagine you are in a gallery,’ says Selfridges’ director of accessories Sebastian Manes. ‘From the entrance you see a succession of doorways and at the end a huge window flooding the space with daylight. Your journey begins at the front, with shoes from the best of the high street. Slowly you begin to travel through different galleries until you reach the end – the couture designer gallery, flanked by Chanel and Louboutin, and a vision of Eden – the new suspended garden at Selfridges.’

I hunted out some serious Alexander Wang heels, some great grey Givenchy booties, those Balenciaga op-art pumps and the must-have Celine courts for this autumn. I hear Selfridges has negotiated plenty of exclusives with designers for the various rooms. Meanwhile there are shop-in-shops for the likes of Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin and Repetto that are designed to reflect the homes of each of the designers.

What I also heard on the industry grapevine was that because D&G didn't get one of the designer boutique 'rooms' flanking the main designer floor they had a bit of a disagreement with management and pulled out of selling to Selfridges completely. That's £1m revenue in shoes alone! Hissy fit or what!!!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Timberland's style on the move

I wish I could translate the recent Timberland Cycle and Style event into a live retail experience.
A few style journos and fashion bloggers gathered in Regents Park last week to cycle along the canal towpath towards our end destination, the very rurban Waterhouse restaurant – all so we could enjoy an outdoor experience and see the new spring Timberland footwear collection. Oh and we were gifted with a pair of Timberland’s leather deck-shoes so we could look the part.

I love the London arm of the Regents Park canal – running from Uxbridge in the west all the way through to Bow in the east – my other half has a narrow boat so this is my stomping (or rather cruising) ground! The sun came out after a morning of rain (thank God!) and so we set off on our bikes to get into the spirit of the secret tranquil life of London’s urban canalside. It was a joy and very uplifting for the soul.

Then we arrived just in time for lunch at the gorgeous, canalside Waterhouse restaurant in Dalston, that’s committed to efficient waste management and follows a strict policy of reducing waste and recycling with a minimal carbon footprint. The restaurant was chosen for its sustainability policies that mirror Timberland’s.

One of my favourite pieces in the collection was the water resistant canvas desert boot – using P2i technology to create a more durable, water resistant canvas outer and part of the Under Canvas range. As one of the Timberland designers showed me, the water just rolls off! And it looks great too.

Both the mainline outdoor range and the more premium, formal & vintage feel collections looked great for next summer.
Maybe Timberland should do a pop-up store by the canal next summer where you can hire bikes and test out the range of shoes – much like the lucky set of journos did in our Timberland Cycle and Style trip – how to make this kind of experience translate into retail is a bubbling under trend I’m looking into for LS:N Global right now. They’re calling it Coviviality Culture and centres around ‘live’ events. Live + Retail = experience driven shopping. It’s good for the soul.