A discussion panel organized by the Career Alumni Center (CAC) of IFA Paris and moderated by its director, Adile Cretallaz, gathered on February 14th, on the Shanghai campus of the first French fashion school in China. Several specialists of concept stores joined, these multi-brand and multi-themes stores that appeared twenty years ago with the development of brands, more eclectic tastes, new trends and more adapted lifestyles in most major international capitals. Among the panellists were Valeria Bondar, Director of Marketing and Communications at Helen Lee, Vera Wang, Marketing Director of the Replay brand, Shreya Bondre, Brand Manager in Shanghai, Connoisseur Group and Peipei Huang, PR at 3rd Floor.
From New York to London, from Paris to Berlin, from Shanghai to Tokyo or Seoul, the most famous concept stores are surging stores such as Colette, L’Eclaireur, 10 Corso Como, Opening Ceremony, Triple Major or Dover Street Market. Valeria Bondar, also an IFA Paris graduate, gave a brilliant definition, during her presentation, of what is a concept store is: “An alternative to traditional retail format characterized by a unique, trend-setting experience, and a lifestyle (brand) concept being consistent, sustainable over long term.”
Created at the frontiers of disciplines, fashion, luxury, art and design, between inclusiveness and exclusivity, in reaction and as an alternative to the boom of e-commerce, concepts stores have become, in recent years, increasingly sophisticated. Their positioning is always more conceptual, in clear: unique. Distinguished from the big brands and most of the logos seen by many consumers as a bit too bling-bling – except for spaces such as the 10 Corso Como attached to its collaborations with major luxury brands, or like the Shanghai K11, a real mall –, they seek synergies with independent creators.
The key word, as Shreya Bondre and Vera Wang reminded us, is experience. The concept store is a place addressing to the senses and the sensory and relying on a ludic interaction of propositions. It is the case with Triple Major in Shanghai, where “popular culture is reinvented”, or within the walls of Gentle Monster stores, eyeglass vendors transformed into ultra-themed design spaces.
Concepts stores do not forget the consciences, even the consciousness. Especially when organic and major environmental issues have a major impact on the behaviour of 25-36 year olds – heart of the target.
They develop also new ways of consumption. In Tokyo, at the Tsutaya T-Site, in the district of Daikanyama, in a very lounge like atmosphere, guests, who are no longer seen only as consumers, are invited to read books and magazines, listen to records, surf on the net thanks to the free wifi, without spending 1 yen. A sort of “free shopping”! While knowing that in the end, a real envy soon turns into a purchase…
The entire discussion can be seen on our IFA Paris Facebook Page