Concept Boutiques & New-Gen Dept Stores, Russia
Embracing an influx of travellers, especially from China (760,000 visited in 2016, up 44% since 2015 – Euromonitor, 2017), shrewd Russian retailers are investing in more conceptually exciting store designs.
While championing both local and international talent is key, representing Russia as a hotbed of fresh talent attuned to a new, modern attitude is high on the agenda. We spotlight some of the most significant examples.
- Indie Department Store Champions New Talent: Opened late 2016, 4,000 sq m department store Trend Island Moscow acts as a creative hub melding local Moscovite culture and Russian zeitgeist with international design. Located within Moscow shopping centre Avia Park, it houses 30 local and international brands straddling fashion, cosmetics and homeware and revolves around three key pillars: fashion, gastronomy and entertainment.
Operating with an innovative and relatively low-risk business model to attract fresh design talent (and Moscow’s creative clientele), fashion designers don’t pay rent for concession spaces, and Trend Island doesn’t buy any products. Instead, the department store simply takes a commission on sales. Furthering its commitment to young blood, the space also houses a café and a ‘lectorium’ hosting talks and exhibitions. Design-wise, the store resembles a typical Russian cityscape, with sidewalks, street signs, benches and green trees adorning the space.
- Platform for Art & Fashion Conceived to Shift The Status Quo: Premium Moscow department store Tsvetnoy Central Market also seeks to represent the modern Russian spirit with the launch of its independent talent platform ArtBasement. Conceived to pioneer emerging contemporary artists and fashion designers, it holds an in-house art gallery, cinema and event space, and hosts exhibitions, film screenings and art performances/projects.
Carrying that art-led perspective into the store’s visual merchandising, Tsvetnoy Central Market has also initiated a bi-annual collaboration with artists to overhaul all in-store visual communications and merchandising, echoing Dover Street Market’s famous transformational Tachiagari format. Mixing price points to emphasise attitude over cost – a practice that goes against the grain of Russia’s usual price-focused segmentation (the higher the price, the greater the status) – all products are showcased in bespoke, mixed-brand environments.
See also Lifestyle Labs: Rethinking Categorisation in Rise of the Exploratorium.
- Eclectic Wonderland: Established in 1907, St. Petersburg’s Au Pont Rouge – the world’s oldest department store – reopened just over a year ago with a bold new store design by US architect Rafael de Cardenas and British interior designer Christopher Jenner. A stereotypically lavish ambience rules the first floor of international fashion boutiques, designed by Jenner – who is renowned for his capacity to amplify heritage (see Monetising Heritage).
The entire second floor houses a Japanese, neo-minimalist-style white space and flagship concession of hugely popular eco-ethical beauty chain Cosmotheca. It has curated rare cosmetic, beauty and fragrance brands united by ethical attributes such as environmentally friendly production or high-level corporate social responsibility under the zones ‘niche cosmetics’, ‘beauty’ and ‘personal shopping’. It’s now so successful that it comes with a fully automated robotic customer service system, developed by Hong Kong design studio Cheungvogl Design. Shoppers add to a virtual basket by scanning items with the store’s mobile app. Upon purchase, the order is forwarded to the point of sale. See also Rapid Custom Retail.
The third and fourth floors, designed by Cardenas, boast a more futuristic, eclectic design comprised of coloured glass, metal and mirrors and a flexible layout to accommodate seasonal pop-ups and special events. Described as a ‘Wonderland’, it’s dedicated to showcasing young local designers and independent shops (both local and international), targeting international shoppers hungry for new talent.
- South Korea Spotlight: Homing in on the rising Asian interest in Russia, as well as growing Russian interest in the global Korean beauty/ fashion boom, in November 2016, Chinese department store Lotte introduced a new concept shop-floor called ‘K Avenue’. Located on the third floor of Moscow’s Lotte Plaza shopping mall, it solely presents premium fashion designers and beauty brands from South Korea.
See also Next-Level Department Store Strategies.