DUBAI — The world’s largest shoe store, Level Shoe District, opens its doors today in Dubai Mall.
“This is a place for people who are passionate about shoes, who are addicted to shoes, who are obsessed about shoes,” said Patrick Chalhoub, chief executive officer of Chalhoub Group, the store’s parent company.
With more than 96,000 square feet of space and a selection of up to 15,000 different styles at any one time, Level is double the size of the world’s largest shoe floors including Selfridges in London and Macy’s in New York. The store is divided into four areas: women’s designer, women’s contemporary, men’s and trends and has 40 designer concessions, including anchor tenants Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci.
Chalhoub described the store as a “milestone” for the family-run company, which operates more than 450 luxury retail units in the Middle East. “In the many ventures in which we’ve been associated, we’ve been a franchisee trying to have the perfect execution of what the franchisers were giving,” he said. “In this specific place we’ve had to create the concept. The challenging part was to be a house of brands rather than the execution of one specific brand.
“Its very complex for our buyers because we need to give people the depth of choice but also things that are adapted to many different tastes,” said Chalhoub.
The store will have the spring collection of Louis Vuitton four to six weeks before anywhere else in the world. Aside from the selection of designer brands, Level will feature a concept store called The Zoo, featuring Middle Eastern brands, providing a launch pad for regional talent. Merchandising for Level was very complicated, said Chalhoub, as the idea is to offer “something for everyone.”
That includes a VIP room where dedicated shoe stylists can receive customers who prefer privacy. For men, Level has an in-house master cobbler, a graduate of the prestigious French Apprenticeship Les Compagnons Du Devoir, making bespoke creations.
“Women in the Middle East are perhaps more attached to shoes than anywhere else in the world,” said Chalhoub. But he is not banking on that alone, adding that the large amount of retail tourism in the Emirate is crucial to success. “With 10 million visitors coming to Dubai, it creates a booming retail environment,” he said.
The idea for a dedicated department store for footwear, he said, was based on qualitative market research. “Footwear is one of the fastest developing in luxury,” he said. “We are in an era where people are paying much more attention to the shoes they wear.” Despite the wobbly global economy, Chalhoub said business has stayed on track. “It’s a growing market and has been developing even throughout the crisis because people do not stop dreaming,” he said. “People aspire to a better life, people aspire for luxury, for quality.”
While Chalhoub would not reveal investment figures, he said this is one of the company’s biggest undertakings to date. “I’m not an entrepreneur if I do not take risks and don’t take challenges,” Chalhoub said. “For us it’s a question of looking at what customers want and delivering the best experience. What we don’t know for sure is how long it will take until we have a return on investment. Will it be five years, will it be 12 years? What we are sure of is our commitment to make it work and happen.”
Level is still in soft opening stages, but nearly 80 percent of the store is complete. The Vogue Café (operated by Condé Nast Restaurants) will open by December.
@pantone announced their Color of the Year 2018: Ultra Violet. Nearly 20 months after the musician Prince’s death, fashion is having a purple moment. Varying shades of purple appeared on spring or fall runways, from @christopherkane to @calvinklein. @gucci’s Alessandro Michele bathed his fall runway in ultra violet-colored light at one point. Pantone 18-3838 is meant to “push the boundaries of what inspires us to look upward and outward to the future.” #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@badgalriri’s @fentybeauty launch in September was a massive success on social media, powering $72.9 million of earned media value, according to Tribe Dynamics. The brand’s foundation offering sparked conversations about diversity in beauty, launching the growth of emerging influencers and propelling the brand’s support on social media. Today, #fentybeauty won Launch of the Year at the WWD #BeautyIncAwards. (📷: Chema Moya/EPE-EFE)
@marianna_hewitt has become one of the most influential content creators in the beauty space, with almost 800,000 Instagram followers and a newly launched skin care line called @SummerFridays. Today, she was awarded Influencer of the Year at the WWD #BeautyIncAwards. (📸: @sophiachabbott )
As shopping behaviors evolve, the retail experience must follow. Head over to retail experts @colliersinternational’s Knowledge Leader series to read more about the shift in our shopping era. #colliersretail #lovecolliers
@prada opened a pop-up club, called Prada Double Club, in collaboration with German artist Cartsen Höller at @artbasel Miami. Last night, guests – including @youngparis, @ritaora and even Miuccia Prada herself – gathered in a former ice factory where the pop-up is housed for a performance from @wyclefjean. Go to WWD.com for full coverage on all the exhibits, parties and more at #ArtBaselMiami. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
@louboutinworld and @disney are making magic once again, creating a set of shoe designs for the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Louboutin designed a pair of shoes for each of the film’s four female leads: Rey (@daisyridrey), Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (@lauradern), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Rose Tico (@kellymarietran). The shoes will debut on Saturday at the L.A. premiere of the latest episode. #wwdfashion
Today at the #BeautyIncAwards 2017, WWD will be joined by beauty leaders from around the world as we honor this year's most innovative people, products, brands and places. Follow along here and on Twitter for live coverage from the exclusive event. #wwdsummits (📷: @elizaflorendo)
Exclusive: Beauty superinfluencer @marianna_hewitt is launching her first-ever skin care brand with her business partner @laurengores. Their new line Summer Fridays, which will be sold exclusively at summerfridays.com starting in January, is launching with just one product – a hydrating cream Jet Lag Mask. “We wanted to focus on one product that was amazing,” said Hewitt. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Michelin star-rated chef PJ Calapa marks his first solo endeavor with today’s opening of @scampinyc –– the new Southern Italian restaurant located in Manhattans’ Flatiron District. The upscale yet welcoming environment matches the menu, which includes two types of scampi: traditional Italian langoustines in butter and the Americanized version with shrimp over pasta 🍤 - pictured here. #wwdeye (📷: George Chinsee)