January 13, 2012

Once Upon A Boutique

Recently, we talked about large retailers in our blog, “That’s How The Cookie Crumbles” so today we would like to discuss in contrast, a new boutique mindset hitting everything from design to restaurants to tradeshows to store design and product assortment. We are beginning to move away from globalization towards this idea of a bespoke way of doing business. Things are getting more “boutique-like” tailored to individual locations and customers.

With this in mind, why go to a mass retailer or high-end designer shop whether you are in NY, LA, Europe, or Asia when the styles are the same? When traveling, don’t we want to see different merchandise and a different store that embodies the culture and style of where we are visiting? A new niche type of market is beginning to emerge that differentiates product range, curates, encourages “buying local,” and connects emotionally with customers through more interesting forms of merchandising. As a general token, we want to buy things that are more meaningful and unique.

To all mass retailers out there, "the times they are a-changin" and some brands are beginning to catch on. For instance, Esprit which in 2010 opened the largest store in the world in Frankfurt, has just opened a new, more modern looking "lighthouse store" in Cologne with no window displays at all and instead curtains to create a living room effect. The international brand has taken on this new concept to create a homey, minimalistic atmosphere with neutral color schemes, exposed brick, and plants that take you back in time to the late 60's when the label originated in San Francisco. Think Anthropologie meets Aritzia. 

Levi's, another brand originating in San Francisco, has gone bespoke with it's new shop in Amsterdam. The two-level store combines the label's historic knack for denim with recycled decor ranging from old church benches, steel pipes, and bikes found in Amsterdam's canals. The space will also be used to support local artists in the form of workshops, exhibits, and performances. What better way to understand your customer base than promoting authenticity, craftsmanship, and creativity right within your own walls? 

photo via NY Times

With winter coming (possibly!), the perfect place to get warm, functional clothing for the working men and women of the world is the Dunderdon Workshop in Soho. What started out as a Swedish workwear store for craftsmen, has now evolved into a place of highly innovative, trendy, and crafty articles of knits, coats, pants, shirting and a plethora of accessories that all serve a chic but purposeful existence for blue and white collared workers alike. With a combination of great design, a helpful staff, and a cozy yet modern boutique vibe, this shop is fit for all who look for practical, well-made, and timeless pieces with a touch of down to earth sensibility.

photo via Ilay Tekstil

This past week at Premiere Vision New York, we had the opportunity to meet with a representative from Ilay Tekstil, a Turkish textile company that produces custom digital prints on silks. This is a new trend hitting textile suppliers as "specialty" and "handpicked things" begin to stand out more and more. Basically, this digital science can take any image, in any color way, and print it on fabric. With this, there are not only less minimums, but you have the opportunity to "think unlimited" as they put it and what better way to think than that? 
photo via Bond No.9

Also following in suit, or rather scent are such perfume labels as Bond No.9, Creed, and Molton Brown which work to not only offer custom fragrances, but also tell a story. Each Bond no. 9 scent, based right here on Bond Street in New York, represents the different neighborhoods the city has to offer in women’s, men’s and even unisex flavors. Meanwhile, Creed perfumes, which has been passed down through the Creed family for seven generations is hand produced using natural ingredients making the perfume label "the world’s only privately held luxury fragrance dynasty.” Ever care to travel to the likes of Egypt, China, Indonesia, Kent, or Canada? Well now you can with Molton Brown’s collection, “Navigations Through Scent,” which takes customers on a fragrant journey around the world. 

photo via snackny.com

From retail to fragrances to digital printing, it's probably about time for a snack, right? With two locations in both SoHo and the West Village, Snack is a quaint Greek restaurant offering the most delicious mediterranean salads, sandwiches, and entree dishes. Not only are the number of tables less than double digits, but the restaurant is family owned and operated. In addition, they sell dips and spreads made of natural ingredients at local markets in the New York and Massachusetts area.

As same store design begins to diminish, a shift in individual store concepts will start to flourish among those retailers interested in conserving their history while simultaneously evolving with the future. This humble attitude of change is everywhere as everything is changing ever so quickly. Sameness will no longer be accepted. In order to stay in business, companies are going to need an exciting plot, an interesting setting as well as an excellent understanding of the characters of each story. The End.

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