Concept stores are multifunctional stores for the presentation and sale of bridge market brands. Ideally – updating collections every two weeks, selling everything from bed linen to perfume and books. The store’s collection is formed very carefully, there should be no random things in it. This format is not very common in our country, but it is quite popular in Europe.
Concept store is a whole space, not just beautifully and expensively decorated, but built around some idea, image, expressing a view of the world, which should be translated through the selection of things and design ideas for the arrangement of the store. The fundamental property of the concept store is the clarity of the idea that this store promotes. Important for the concept store is a well-thought-out number of brands sold, a certain balance between “a lot” and “a little” so that there is fullness, but at the same time the store does not turn into a department store, a combination of brands known and unknown, luxury and more democratic.
The conceptual idea of domestic concept stores often turns out to be difficult to define and blurred, especially since in Moscow they really like to call everything by the overseas name “concept store”: if more than one brand is sold in the store, then here’s a “concept” for you.
The concept of a concept store appeared on the fashion market in the 1990s. But attempts to create a special trading space have been known since the 1960s. In 1967, Italian stylist Elio Fiorucci, who conceived the idea of transferring the atmosphere of swinging London to Italy, opened the first concept store in the center of Milan, although the term “concept store” did not exist then. Among the traditional Italian luxury brands, Fiorucci began selling completely new clothes for that time: outfits made of plastic, fabrics of bright acid colors. His store was different from everything that was around.
In the 80s, American designer Ralph Lauren opened several concept stores, the interior of which resembled a residential apartment. Paintings of dogs and horses on the walls, leather chairs, vases with fresh flowers. In the shops, you could buy classic men’s clothing in the spirit of the famous Savile Row street shops in London, riding clothes, clothes traditionally used by young people living in university colleges, as well as books, furniture and interior items, suitcases, jewelry, and even bed linen and kitchen utensils. Lauren created stores in which interior items and goods were united by a love of a certain aesthetic.
In 1991, the famous Italian concept store Corso Como opened in Milan, which completely changed the traditional ideas about the clothing store. In one building there was a department with clothes and accessories, moreover, women’s and men’s fashion are not separated from each other, perfumes, interior items, a music department, a restaurant, a bar, a bookstore, as well as an art gallery, which regularly hosted exhibitions. What all these seemingly completely different items of trade had in common was a clear and definite style, determined by the taste of the creator of the concept store.
The term “concept store” was fixed in the late 90s, when a new principle of multi-brand boutiques was formed. The main idea was to demonstrate a certain “lifestyle” in general. Examples of such retail spaces are Paris Colette, Berlin Quartier 206, Milan Corso Como, New York Moss. They promoted the format of total shopping “total shopping”. For the consumer, this opened up the opportunity to take advantage of the taste of the store owner, an expert in the field of “beautiful lifestyle”, and, without wasting time on a long shopping trip, buy everything at once.
Many people took the new retail spaces very enthusiastically. English journalist Jenny Dalton wrote: “In a concept store, the objects themselves and their representation are strikingly different from everything you see around you. The way these goods are displayed is much more important than them. The quality of the time spent in the concept store is important. Most people come here not for shopping, but for inspiration and atmosphere.” Kristina Adolfson, an employee of the Swedish Elle, spoke about unusual stores as follows: “A concept store should expand taste horizons, otherwise it is not a concept store.”
Italian journalist Marco Bozzer noted that these stores offer emotions rather than goods: “The style of shopping in the concept store is directly opposite to what happens in regular stores, where a general feeling of neyut and fuss makes quick impulsive purchases. Here, the atmosphere is soothing, but not numbing. As a result, a person buys exactly what he needs.”
But there were also skeptics. French designer Nicolas Guenel remarked: “The role of the concept store is to present an alternative to the surrounding style. A different context, social and even geographical, should be offered. Right off the bat, it’s hard to name such designer goods that would deserve to be in the concept store, because there is no serious alternative to the current lifestyle. We need to imagine a space that would change our vision of everyday life.”