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Brief Published: 25 Nov 2019

Rethinking the Fashion Flagship: NY

Maison Margiela

Quite literally adding a new level of artistry to the luxury flagship scene, two imaginative New York stores showcase a maturation of the art-meets-commerce trend that’s been bubbling for years. From pop-up galleries to artists in residence, culture-first thinking is consolidating credibility.

As detailed in Raising the Archives: Exhibition-Style Brandships and Art Meets Fashion (Again): Cult Brands Grab Gallery Stores, commercial enterprise with a cultural edge is increasingly becoming a sign of credibility for luxury fashion players. Two key flagships, both launched this month, illustrate the shift.

Maison Margiela

Avant-garde French label Maison Margiela’s long-term SoHo pop-up will witness five different gallery-style exhibits from December 2019 to July 2020. Margiela’s garments will be paired with the work of an up-and-coming artist, to highlight disciplinary overlaps in visual culture. The first installation features pieces from US artists Jessi Reaves, who has designed a sculptural sofa; and Tabor Robak, who has created a mini jumbotron (a supersized video display). When the series ends, the 2,200 sq ft store will transition back into a ‘regular’ boutique for the brand – its third in NYC.

For more on Margiela’s evolving strategy, see Retail Meets Media, part of Dynamic Youth: Gen Z.

Mark Cross

Formerly e-tail only, US luxury leather brand Mark Cross’s first standalone physical store resembles an atrium, thanks to billowing white gauze curtains that divide it into three discreet showrooms. Key to the launch is a new Artist in Residence programme, hosted in partnership with local non-profit New York Foundation for the Arts. Five young artists will be paired with mentors, giving them the opportunity to decorate their own versions of Cross’s iconic handbags.

See also Culture-First Flagships in Brand Spaces: 10 Trends & Opportunities, 19/20, Virgil Abloh Blends Commerce & Creativity in Chicago, and Retail: Experiential Luxe, 2019.