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A new era for stores: Retail trends from Milan Design Week

Retail stores will no longer have merchandise in full view on hanging rails or on shelves, but concept stores will aim to offer the best possible shopping experience with the use of technological support and home delivery in order to realise ever greater integration between online and offline sales. These are the retail trends which emerged during the Milan Design Week, which took place in the Italian fashion capital from 3rd to 9th April.

The concept store selects stimuli and products from other sectors, as the godfather of denim, Adriano Goldschmied, explained to FashionUnited a few weeks ago: “I’m working on a small store concept where customers can find top products. I don’t believe in the total look, as doing everything well is mission impossible. This is why I decided to solely concentrate on denim since the end of the 1980’s.”

A new era for stores: Retail trends from Milan Design Week

Physical shops and online showcases are now increasingly integrated

The seminar organised by Elle Decor and Altagamma, the association which brings together the luxury goods elite, highlighted that living trends and retail distribution are merging, with the showroom becoming the ‘theatre’, where the biography of the products on display are recounted, whilst the digital elements expand, support and amaze the customer.

Francesco Morace, Chairman of Future Concept Lab, proposed a new consumption scenario, based on the extension of the comfort concept, allowing the consumer to feel at ease, to be recognised and feel gratified. From the pure and simple perception of individual comfort, we move onto a full quality of life experience. In essence, we are a long way from the time when acquiring selling spaces to witness a boost in revenues was sufficient. "The era of easy growth created by new spaces and price increases is over. Shops are no longer a display of dimensions and materials, but a way for brands to express and confirm their own values and uniqueness,” according to the key trend emerging from Fondazione Altagamma’s Retail evolution study conducted by Luca Solca from Exane Paribas.

A new era for stores: Retail trends from Milan Design Week

According to Remo Ruffini, Chairman of Moncler, we are moving towards a differentiated retail strategy by country, with a different purchasing experience in every city. “The purchasing process is multichannel, fast and digitally friendly,” which means we must take the new generations born with a smartphone in their hands into account. For instance, Julipet, an underwear/lingerie brand utilised this approach by launching its first store in the fashion quarter during the Milan Design Week. “We decided to consider Julipet as a start-up and that even the cash desk in the store would revolve around e-commerce. There’s a high degree of integration between online and offline, for us, sales take place through a single channel which merges web and offline,” explains Clemente Germanetti, the brand’s Manager.

The store features a floor covered by vicuna rugs, eco-leathers on the walls, cream shelves and bronze wall panelling finished off with “pink gold” displays and a movable counter which also serves as a cash desk. All of this is illuminated by a selection of LED lights. The external showcase is a captivating display of lights, “opens” the space within the store and invites customers to enter, with a big video wall opposite the entrance becoming the focus point, telling the world all about Julipet, alongside an installation of a man in pyjamas by the artist Nando Cripps.

If digital is indeed an essential element for the physical store, references to the world of art and to the inspiration which drives sculptors, photographers and painters, is a trend at sales points. Frankie Morello hosted an exclusive installation during the Salone del mobile furniture trade fair, in collaboration with LondonArt, the UK's largest online gallery of contemporary art, to showcase its “rebirth” collection within its flagship store in Corso Venezia.

A new era for stores: Retail trends from Milan Design Week

Brooks Brothers resurrected the display cases in their own Flatiron store, a 1937 square foot space spanning over two floors in the heart of the Milan Brera district, with new design objects, created by reusing shapes and materials deployed in the installations. This is the first time the Circular Design concept has been applied in the world of retail and luxury goods, with designer Andrea Favoni, Art Director at Marangoni Design and author of this first edition of Circular Design, looking to complement the Brooks Brothers collection with a double helix, using linen as an accessory element on the furnishings. Designer Paola Lenti executed exclusive versions of several products in the collection at the La Tenda store in Via Solferino, combined with vintage pieces in a creative game of contamination, inspired by the colours of the island of Cuba, burnt by time but still brilliant. Moving from the hottest yellow to the deepest red, from the nuances of turquoise which shift from green to blue, the designer has recreated a sunlit environment which is serene, free and full of life.

A new era for stores: Retail trends from Milan Design Week

Aspesi marries arte povera

Arte povera, the contemporary art movement which literally means ‘poor art’, is the protagonist of Aspesi’s store, a label recently acquired by Italian private equity firm Armònia sgr, which decided to display a single work in its showcase in via Montenapoleone by one of the leading exponents of this movement, Mario Merz. Arte povera was born in Italy during the second half of the 1960’s in an open polemic with traditional art, whose techniques and media it rejected in order to specifically draw on ‘poor’ materials, such as earth, wood, iron, rags, plastic and industrial scraps, with the intention of evoking the original structures of the language of contemporary society after having corroded its habits and semantic conformisms. “I am very happy to be able to offer a broad and heterogeneous off-salon audience the opportunity to admire this work. Alberto Aspesi has always appreciated and been involved in the art world, with a distinct preference for arte povera, well represented here by Merz’ work. The iconic concept of essentiality is indeed an element it has in common with the brand’s collection style,” said Fabio Gnocchi, Managing Director of Aspesi.

In conjunction with the Salone del mobile of Milan, Massimo Dutti entrusted the decoration of its flagship store in Corso Vittorio Emanuele to one of the best artists, Rossana Orlandi. Inditex invited the Milanese artist, who won the latest edition of the magazine Ad’s prize, to embellish the showcases of its Milan store with works by artists derived from its gallery. The specific artistic project which the gallery owner organised for the showcase of the store included a selection of iconic pieces, such as Damiano Spelta and Nika Zupanc’s armchairs and a large-scale graphic portrait of Rossana Orlandi. As a further tribute to Orlandi, there was no shortage of dummies of the iconic spectacles, which identify the owner of the gallery.

Originally published by Isabella Naef for FashionUnited Italy

Foto: Julipet press office, FashionUnited, Massimo Dutti press office, Frankie Morello press office, Brooks Brothers press office

Paul&Shark opens first UK store

Italian lifestyle and fashion brand Paul&Shark is to open its first UK store at St James’s Market, Regent Street, London today, April 27.

The London flagship spans 2,000 square foot and houses the brand’s men’s and women’s collections across its sportswear, smart casual and luxury lines.

The store is located in a Grade II-listed building that has been restored as part of a joint venture between The Crown Estate and Oxford Properties with the interior combining classic Italian elegance with modern elements, said the brand, with a large open space teamed with minimal soft furnishings to allow customers to “feel at ease”.

Paul&Shark opens first UK store

A focal point of the store is the feature wall of digital screens that aims to provide an ever-changing backdrop, showcasing the brand’s content and concealing two fitting rooms and a customer service area.

In addition, the flagship features bespoke fixtures in polished stainless steel to complement the modernity of the space along with plinths and shelving in the same steel blue used on luxury yachts, in tribute to the brand’s heritage.

Paul&Shark opens first UK store

Paul&Shark has more than 250 stores across 73 countries including in Milan, Paris, New York, Beverly Hills and Shanghai.

Images: courtesy of Paul&Shark

Amazon launches new local-weather personalised shopping service

Amazon has launched a new personalised shopping service which is set to offer products to shoppers based on their local weather conditions.

The new service, which launched on Tuesday and is part of Amazon's #NowItsSummer campaign, focuses on offering useful and fun products depending on weather conditions - such as sun cream, sunglasses and bathing suits on a sunny day and umbrellas, anoraks and rain boots on a rainy day. The service was developed by Amazon based on previous seasonal sales research. It uses new technology which studies weather data as part of an algorithm to suggest weather appropriate items based on the consumers current location.

The online retail giant hopes the new service will help them better understand when British consumers start making their summer purchases. In the past, the majority of British shoppers hold off on buying summer-related products, such as flip-flops and sunglasses until the first Sunday of June, which is three days after the official start of British summertime.

Photo: Amazon new personalised shopping weather service

Luxury spenders defy Japan's tight-fisted reputation

Tight-fisted shoppers, unsteady economic growth and a shrinking population: Japan doesn't exactly fit the image of a spending powerhouse these days. But you would never know it in Ginza -- Tokyo's answer to the Champs-Elysees or Fifth Avenue -- where a new 13-storey upscale mall is proving that Japan is still a whale in the luxury business.

The country logs some 22.7 billion dollars in annual spending on top-end goods made by brands including Chanel, Dior, and Prada, ranking it as the world's number two luxury market behind the United States. "Luxury products may be more expensive, but they are very well-made," said 79-year-old Toshiko Obu, carrying her longtime Fendi bag outside the Ginza Six building, which has been drawing big crowds since last week's opening.

Japan is renowned among the world's priciest retailers for its discriminating clientele -- Chanel tries to keep local customers physically separated from tourists packing more cash than class. "You shouldn't forget that a big portion of the luxury clientele is here in Japan," Sidney Toledano, chairman and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, told AFP at the opening of the 241-store building. "It remains a strategic market for luxury and, I'd say, true luxury."

'Biting their fingernails'

Dior is counting on Japan's luxury market to rise this year, while rival Chanel is also expecting an upbeat 2017, after global sales of personal luxury goods barely grew last year. "We did not lose our character," said Richard Collasse, head of Chanel in Japan. "There are brands that are suffering -- the ones that at some stage stopped investing in Japan because China was the new El Dorado. And today they are biting their fingernails.",

Few brands predicted that deep-pocketed Chinese shoppers visiting Japan would support its luxury market -- tourists account for about one-third of top-end spending. Japan is hoping to land 40 million visitors in 2020, the year that Tokyo hosts the Olympics. Last year, some six million Chinese visited, compared with 2.4 million in 2014.

"Historically, (Japan has) been a very insular luxury market where 90 to 95 percent of the spending was by locals," said Joėlle de Montgolfier, Paris-based director of consumer and luxury product research at consultancy Bain & Company. But now some 30 percent of sales are generated by foreign visitors owing to tourism, she added.

A stronger yen dented visitors' purchasing power last year, with luxury sales down one percent, after a 9.0 percent rise in 2015. Dior's Toledano said it is an opportunity to refocus on Japanese clientele. "We don't ignore tourists, of course, but we're not a duty-free shop," he added.

'Touching everything'

Some other Chanel shops in Tokyo have a separate cosmetics and perfume section reserved for top Japanese customers, in a bid to keep them away from the nouveau riche crowd. It also tips off local clientele about the expected arrival time of tourist buses so they can avoid them.

"The loyal Japanese clients tend to run away from customers who were not very well raised and are wearing whatever or lying all over the sofa, touching everything," said Chanel's Collasse. Dior's haute couture show at the new mall's opening featured Japanese-inspired dresses, underscoring a focus on the local market. But warning signs lurk behind smiling clerks and glitzy interiors at the new property on one of the world's priciest shopping streets.

Japan has struggled to reverse a decades-long economic slump while a falling population continues to shrink its labour force -- and the pool of future luxury consumers.

Younger people, many on tenuous work contracts, don't have the money or the same interest in luxury brands anymore, especially since top-end goods can now be rented online instead, said Naoko Kuga, a consumer lifestyle analyst at Tokyo's NLI Research Institute. "When you look at consumer purchasing behaviour, younger people put less value on luxury brand products" than previous generations, she said. (AFP)

Photo: The Dior flagship boutique in the upscale Ginza shopping district of Tokyo. Credit: By Christopher Mann McKay, via WikimediaCommons, Attribution 2.5 Generic (CC BY 2.5)

The retail apocalypse

The retail landscape is changing at such a speed brands are evidently failing to keep up. Perhaps that is why in the US in the first three months of 2017 there were nearly three thousand shop closures. That is nearly triple the 1,153 store closures that occurred in the same period in 2016.

Retail bankruptcies, deathly quiet shopping malls, deserted high streets and shrinking store portfolios could almost make you think retailers are on the verge of extinction or a retail apocalypse.

And this is not just occurring in America. Around the world consumer spending is shifting to that of experience. Buying clothes is no longer a priority. Fast fashion fixes for goods we don't need have been replaced with experiences that bring a different type of satisfaction. Traveling, eating out and socialising have become priority purchases for millenials and generation z.

The retail apocalypse

Like fashion, retailers are being forced to reinvent themselves

Retailers are therefore forced to reinvent themselves and the reality of the in-store environment is changing to incorporate a new shopping experience. The traditional brick and mortar business is becoming obsolete.

Retailers like Farfetch are setting a new precedent. Their first physical store is much more than a shop - it is a retail platform that uses customers' online purchase history to inform shop clerks.

Other examples of innovative retail experiences include in-store customization, like 3D printing , a service offered at Ministry of Supply in Boston. Nike is now operating stores that have football fields and basketball courts on their premises.

Amazon, too, remains one of the most innovative companies on the retail landscape. The internet has changed the way we buy everything from clothing to automobiles to holidays, but what started as an online platform for selling books has morphed into a company that can deliver a box directly to your doorstep, rethinking logistics as we know it. Their new store fronts are check out free, with all purchases being registered by an app in your phone.

Ecommerce is no replacement for the experience of shopping in store, touching a product and being able to try before you buy. People still prefer to shop in stores, but stores are failing to meet consumer demands and rival the online experience.

The retail apocalypse, source Quartz, photo credit: www.theatlandtic.com, Farfetch store of the future

Transport for London (TFL) has unveiled new plans to revolutionise one of London’s busiest shopping destinations, Oxford Street, which could see taxis and buses banned.

The plans have been unveiled for consultation in a bid to reduce congestion, enhance hit quality and improve road safety for shoppers.

“We want to create a better environment, address poor air quality, support its cultural heartland and thriving business district and deliver improved neighbourhoods,” said TFL in the public consultation paper. “The introduction of the Elizabeth line in late 2018 provides a once in a generation opportunity to tackle these challenges and make the district into the world’s best outdoor shopping experience and an unrivalled place to live, work and visit.”

TFL added: “There are lots of issues. Unless we take action now, these issues will worsen as London continues to grow, threatening the success of Oxford Street and the surrounding district.”

Under the plans, TFL is suggesting pedestrianising what it calls the busiest stretch of Oxford Street, between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus. In addition, the plans include banning black taxis, reducing thew number of buses, allowing night-time deliveries only, as well as a consultation on whether to allow cyclists to only use the street at night.

41 percent of trips on Oxford Street are currently made by bus, while taxis make up almost a third of the traffic on Oxford Street, however, 56 percent of trips are made on foot and the volume of buses restricts pedestrians.

TFL has already confirmed the number of buses that use Oxford Street will be reduced by around 40 percent.

The eight-week consultation closes on June 18.

Online shoppers prefer next day delivery over other options

Online shoppers in the UK prefer next day delivery over other delivery and returns options, a new report has found.

According to ecommerce agency Ampersand, over half of British consumers would opt for next day delivery if it was an option at check out, yet 18 percent of retailers fail to offer the service.

A survey conducted by YouGov substantiates the findings, as it reported 52 per cent of consumers would favour next-day delivery over any other option, and if it were offered at a price they were willing to pay.

According to the Retail Gazette this is the second time Ampersand has conducted this research, after looking at the delivery offerings of 185 of the top UK multichannel retailers in April 2017.

The first study, from May 2014, revealed similar results and reaffirmed the need for more work retailers needed to do.

Comparing the 2014 and 2017 surveys, consumers still prefer next-day delivery over other methods including click-and-collect and same-day delivery.

The percentage of people who preferred same day delivery, if it was at a price they were willing to pay, nearly halved since 2014 – from 21 per cent to 12 per cent, while preference for next day delivery has increased from 46 per cent to 52 per cent between the two surveys.

Out of the retailers that do offer next-day delivery, more than 40 per cent offer it at a price which 89 per cent of consumers would be unwilling to pay, which was over 5 pounds.

Only six retailers surveyed offer next-day delivery for free, which includes Jimmy Choo, Sunglass Hut, Apple and COS.

Harrods and Diesel’s next-day delivery services are the most expensive, ranging from 12 to 20 pounds according to the research.

Meanwhile, 65 per cent of retailers in the UK offer click-and-collect, but only 18 per cent of consumers consider it their preferred method of receiving their goods from online shopping.

Photo credit: Net-a-Porter delivery van, article source: The Retail Gazette

London sees surge in luxury shoppers

London as a prime destination for luxury goods has seen a return of high spending tourists, with Russian tax-free spending up 88 percent and American shoppers up 116 percent last month, according to London Luxury Quarter's latest report.

The quarter, which includes the historic area of Mayfair, St James’s and Piccadilly, is anchored around New and Old Bond Street, an area synonymous with world-class luxury and leisure. It is also home to the most luxurious retailers and services in the world.

Russian and American shoppers have returned to London

The fall of the sterling post Brexit referendum has brought Russians and Americans back to the UK, which according to the report saw a 39 percent rise in tax free shopping in the the January-to-March period.

In the past few years Russians have largely remained absent from London after the devaluation of their currency and economic woes kept them home. American visitors in comparison accounted for 11 percent of London Luxury Quarter’s international tax-free shopping market.

“The steady growth of U.S. spend and the bounce back from Russian visitors brings diversity to London Luxury Quarter, which has been dominated by Chinese and Middle Eastern visitors for some time,” said Mark Henderson, chairman of London Luxury Quarter. “Brands welcome the mix as it promotes their names in visitors’ home markets and supports their global success, rather than relying on a single market.”

Mayfair and its luxury surrounding have also been a draw to Chinese visitors, which saw a rise of 68 percent, where as visitors from Saudi Arabia and the UAE accounted for 45 and 24 per cent respectively.

The London Luxury Quarter represents 53 streets and 4 shopping arcades. The initiative was founded in 2010 and is supported by New West End Company and Heart of London Business Alliance. London Luxury Quarter is positioned as global destination and is marketed worldwide with an estimated 3 billion pounds retail spend per year attracting visitors from a multitude of countries.

Photo credit: Google Map

The British Retail Consortium has launched its post-Brexit Tariff Roadmap for the next Government, highlighting Britain’s current import trade relationships, as well as the short-term risks and long-term opportunities for the UK’s global trading relationships.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium chief executive said: “Ensuring the journey ahead is positive for both retailers and consumers and requires an orderly and sequenced Brexit process.

“The first step is to mitigate the risks by securing the continuation of tariff-free trade with the EU, to avoid further upward pressure on food prices. Next, is the need to replicate the EU’s existing deals with developing countries. Only then, should the Government look to realise the opportunities presented by new trading relationships with the rest of the world.”

Created as part of the trade body’s ‘A Fair Brexit for Consumers’ project to support the next Government in ensuring a fair deal for consumers in the EU negotiations, the report argues neither for a hard nor soft Brexit but rather a “smart Brexit” calling on the government to lead an “orderly and sequenced Brexit process”.

Its ‘tariff roadmap’ offers a number of recommendations including placing “tariff-free trading” with the EU as a top priority to ensure that consumers receive the fairest settlement. In addition, it states that the “cliff edge” should be avoided through a transitional arrangement that recognises all goods in free circulation.

It also recommends that existing benefits of EU preferential trade agreements should be secured before pursuing new trade deals and that a UK Generalised Scheme of Preferences should be introduced that is at least as generous as that currently offered by the EU. In addition, it adds that the UK Government should define its independent trade policy early in consultation with UK businesses.

Cartier has entered into its first partnership with Net-a-Porter for an e-commerce exclusive that will see the launch of a pop-up shop to welcome its Panthère de Cartier watch, a timepiece from the early eighties.

The newly reinstated collection will comprise of 12 models across yellow gold, rose gold, white gold and stainless steel variations, with and without diamond bezels. A further two creations have been directly inspired by the emblematic spotted panther motif, in rose gold and black lacquer as well as white gold and diamonds, both of which are limited edition.

The collection will be available through a dedicated Cartier pop-up shop, created exclusively for the launch of the Panthère collection for one month only, where Net-a-Porter will produce specific content for its platforms and social media channels to pay homage to the feminine jewellery watch.

“I am delighted that Cartier has chosen Yoox Net-a-Porter Group as its first online retail partner to sell the Panthère watch. This partnership with the renowned French jeweler and fine watchmaker for this exclusive pop-up is a major success and marks another milestone in our long-term strategy,” said Federico Marchetti, chief executive Yoox Net-a-Porter Group. “Our discerning customers love to shop for the very best in luxury and we are thrilled to give them access to this magnificent collection. Looking ahead, we have ambitious plans to expand our fine jewellery and watches category and bring more iconic hard-luxury brands into a global online world.”

The Cartier Panthère collection will be available on Net-a-Porter from May 2 until May 31, 2017. Following this, in all Cartier boutiques and authorised watch dealers. Prices range from 3,200 to 133,000 pounds.