Thursday, 18 November 2010

Hermès on tour: J'aime mon Carré pops up in East London

French luxury brand Hermès is taking its microsite campaign J’aime mon Carré on a pop-up tour of London.

The website was launched earlier this year and invites youthful Hermès customers to post images and videos of themselves wearing their Hermès scarves in Paris, Tokyo, London and New York.

This is where luxury brands and street style converge to provide modern and relevant social media campaigns that change consumers' perceptions of brands. Burberry's Art of the Trench did it first now it's the turn of Hermès.

‘It’s a new way for Hermès to talk to a younger customer,’ Pauline Vilbert, head of UK communications told me. ‘We’ve chosen an out-of-the-way area like Arnold Circus in Shoreditch. The pop-up store will then move to Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill for another two-week stint. We wanted to take the J’aime mon Carré website and give it a little tour for our London customers.’

The East London launch event, held in the Rochelle School of Arts, Arnold Circus was hosted by indie band Warpaint who did a set while London's fashionista's experimented with gifted Hermès scarves! What's not to like!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Selected Femme: label to watch

Catching a march on other European vertical retailers is Bestseller the Danish fashion company with 12 brands under its umbrella and the best known of the brands Vero Moda and Jack&Jones, coming to London’s Oxford Street soon.

Selected Femme and Selected Homme
are the contemporary tailoring collections from Bestseller and after seeing the brand showcase its new collections at Copenhagen fashion week way back in January, I’m happy to see the desirable winter collection hitting key London stockist House of Fraser this month. For autumn/winter the focus is on smart outerwear, mixed with feminine tailored pieces and contrasting fabrics such as soft leathers and suedes, silk chiffons, tweeds and plenty of fluffy knits.

Selected Femme's womenswear designer Christina Steen told me this season's collection is inspired by independent and strong personalities. "Embracing the look of a cosmopolitan woman with a clear identity and courage to create a personal style within the modern look, the Selected Femme expression is feminine, cool and chic" she says.

This autumn there's a rich colour palette from earthy brown, muted moss, desert rose, light lavender, dirty gold and dirty violet. Outer wear and tailoring are this labels signatures while knits are another strong statement especially when they are combined with a cosy graphic cardigan.

Ice crystals are expressed with edgy elegance in this sophisticated take on serenity. Watch for the shimmer of sequins, which change colours in a 3d effect. Bigger sequins become an optical illusion on a dress, while other sequins are like crystal formations seen in black on black. Meanwhile, there’s a snowy glistening feel on a terrific knit tunic born to be worn day or night.


This label fills that gap on the high street for high-end design at high street prices with the added benefit of having a cool Scandi design heritage and the best bit is it's still a bit of a secret.

In the UK, Selected is opening more doors and developing a bigger offer at House of Fraser stores. Maybe a Selected flagship is on the cards – hope so!

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.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Set Pieces: Theatrical set design sets the tone for a new season at Dover Street Market

A charred old grand piano and larger than life casino table are two new installations at designer retail emporium Dover Street Market, where set design concepts have superseded retail corners for the store’s seasonal Tachiagari (change over).

A window collaboration between designer Adam Kimmel and artist George Condo grabs attention at the entrance to the store with Condo’s sinister and oversized male puppet characters standing around a casino table whilst showcasing Kimmel’s autumn/winter collection.

And on the third floor the newly refurbished shoe and bag accessories space has been designed by Studio Andy Hillman and features a charred grand piano displaying accessories by Loewe and Sergio Rossi, Fendi, Delvaux, Roberta di Camerino, Judith Leiber among walls covered in dark vintage wooden display cabinets. The effect is dark and moody reflecting the retail design trend for a Rough Luxe (see LS:N Global) atmosphere.

These eye-catching installations point to a new era of set design in retail.

My other highlights for AW10 at DSM include:
- The opening of a new Yves Saint Laurent space designed especially for DSM
- Alber Elbaz's latest VM creation for Lanvin - very lady is the vamp and theatrical
- Phoebe Philo's supremely luxe and minimal accessores space for her Celine accessories
- Hussein Chalayan's perfectly symmetrical hanging wardrobe - I loved his AW10 'Vegas' / on the road collection
- Nicholas Kirkwood's delectable shoe/rock/carving showcase
- Print fusions from Peter Pilotto or Erdem. Love the sophisticated print dress this season.
- Basement full of sneakers for men and women who like an androgynous look. I wish Visvim came in smaller sizes.