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Brief Published: 3 Jun 2013

Selfridges Creates World’s Largest Denim Studio, UK


Today, London department store Selfridges opened the world’s biggest and most comprehensive department dedicated solely to denim. Spanning 26,000 sq ft and costing £6m ($9m), The Denim Studio boasts 11,000 pairs of jeans by 100 different brands, ranging from US heritage labels Levi's and Lee, to British luxury designers Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen.

It will also offer an array of denim-relevant services such as The Denim Tailor for on-the-spot alterations, while denim customisation will take place in a glass-enclosed workshop. For those wanting the VIP treatment, there will also be a personal shopping service, dubbed Denim by Appointment. Another first for the luxury store will be a suite of supermarket-style, self-operated tills, and a novel denim-by-the-kilo checkout for vintage products.

Technology hasn’t been forgotten, either; the space gets a high-tech touch with the Jeanius Bar – a digital, interactive table with denim-related content. Product launches and events will take place in a designated zone called The Platform.

Most surprising however is the news that it will also stock denim from mass-market Irish retailer Primark – the first time the brand has been stocked outside its own stores. At the other end of the pricing spectrum, American premium denim brand J. Brand will launch its first UK flagship boutique within the studio.

“Everyone, of every age group, wears denim – whatever their style,” said Sebastian Manes, Selfridges’ buying and merchandising director. “It’s democratic. It appeals to locals and tourists.” He added that an emphasis on above-and-beyond service aimed to set The Denim Studio apart from competitors. “What we found is that there is a lot of choice with regard to denim, but the service is lacking.”

See Super-Service in the Retail Sector for more on this subject, and also The Selfridges Effect for a full interview with Manes on how the store has consistently used creative thinking to maintain its commercial edge.

To promote the new department, Selfridges will be staging a two-month, storewide celebration of all things denim, starting on June 24 (to coincide with the new season). There will be blue cupcakes for sale in the food hall, washing lines of denim fabric strung across the store’s main atrium, and denim cladding covering the famous bronze statue of American-born French dancer Josephine Baker on the ground floor.

This is not the first time Selfridges has paid tribute to all things denim – as reported by Stylus in Perfect Jeans back in September 2012. Meanwhile, specialising on a single product category to imply expertise and offer shoppers greater choice is an emerging strategy explored in Redefining the Department Store.

For more innovative denim store concepts, see Hointer’s Seattle, Gap 1969 and Mud Jeans Denim Rental. For an overview of key trends in the denim industry, read WWD Denim Summit 2012.