British nail specialist Wah Nails has unveiled an 890,000 sq ft flagship in Soho, London, which merges manicures and pedicures, discovery-based retail, cutting-edge tech and a strong dose of feminism under one roof.
Exuding an urban nightclub feel designed to appeal to its strong youth following, the ground floor is a designated discovery area for playing with the brand's nail polishes, files and art pens, along with similar items from female-founded independent labels chosen by the Wah team. The latter exudes not only the smarts of frenemy retailing – where rival brands form bonds (see Renegade Retail for more) – but also a feminist attitude driven by Wah's founder, stylist-turned-entrepreneur Sharmadean Reid.
There are also virtual try-on stations, created in collaboration with London-based designer Kim Boutin, co-founder of digital agency DVTK (authors of Kenzo's Grace to the Nth Power exploratory e-gallery experience). Visitors test nail polishes via a Samsung VR headset – reviewing designs pre-chosen from a gesture-controlled virtual menu and digitally overlaid onto their hands. They can then customise the colours and shapes (while still wearing the headset) before buying the products online (on nearby touch screens) to recreate the design at home, or using the on-site nail printer.
For those less interested in DIY, nail experts can recreate the designs at a nail bar on the lower ground floor, featuring manicure stations, pedicure chairs with built-in phone chargers, TV screens and a cocktail bar.