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Lifestyle Stores: The Age of Experience

The newest stores are as much about community as they are about commerce.

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Beauty Inc issue 03/08/2013

NOSE

This story first appeared in the March 8, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Paris, France


The brainchild of seven beauty professionals, including Romano Ricci, Nicolas Cloutier, Silvio Levi and Marc Buxton, Nose is a newfangled hybrid online and brick-and-mortar player. Its strategy is centered on personalized fragrance diagnostics that are generated from a database that took two-and-a- half years to conceive. People need only to answer a few profile questions—including information on their three last fragrances worn—either online (www.nose.fr) or via iPads in the store.

 

Once done, an olfactive portrait is produced, as are recommendations for five scents. “Nose is about proposing to the consumer a way to decrypt the fragrance market in a fair and impartial manner,” says Ricci. “It’s a starting point,” says Cloutier, adding, “People are fed up with mass marketing.”
The idea with Nose is to have an entity that can speak for very qualitative fragrances, Cloutier says.
In-store, iPads are used to help people discover brands and the people behind them through elements such as video. Online, it’s possible to order samples of the suggested scents. Five cost 10 euros, or $13.40 at current exchange.

 

The idea with Nose is to have an entity that can speak for very qualitative fragrances, Cloutier says.
In-store, iPads are used to help people discover brands and the people behind them through elements such as video. Online, it’s possible to order samples of the suggested scents. Five cost 10 euros, or $13.40 at current exchange.

Nose’s two-level, 1,945-square-foot boutique on Paris’ Right Bank opened in June and carries a selection of more than 45 niche brands, including Diptyque, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Creed, Juliette Has A Gun, By Kilian, Aqua di Parma, Cowshed, Cire Trudon and Kevin Murphy. The shop’s décor mixes old and new. A large perfume organ occupies the left side. To the right and toward the back, products line the shelves. One section is like a bathroom, with a double sink dating from the Twenties. Nose’s aim, says Ricci, is to be the place to go “for people looking for alternative brands which they’re not going to find in broad distribution. The idea is really to be very focused on specific lines and not just take the product of the moment. —JENNIFER WEIL

 

20 Rue Bachaumont; +33-1-40-24-46-03

TOMS

Venice, California


Toms broke the footwear brand mold with its one-for-one initiative, giving away a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair bought. So, it was unlikely that the brand’s stores would be cut from standard brick-and-mortar stock. Instead, its first flagship, called Toms Casa internally, opened on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Venice in December, is as much a gathering place as it is a retail venue. “It was really important for me to create a community hub where people would not only be able to purchase our products, but a place they can have fun and hang out,” says Toms founder Blake Mycoskie.

Designed with L.A.-based firm Commune, the 2,200-square-foot indoor-outdoor store, which resembles a rustic, if very well-appointed, cottage, is the physical embodiment of the brand. Trinkets that Mycoskie has picked up during extensive travels are situated throughout, as are knickknacks from the desks of employees at Toms’ nearby offices. There is also free Wi-Fi, reclaimed wood shelving, signage speaking to Toms’ philanthropic mission and collages that tell the story of Toms’ efforts. “We wanted the space to feel like Toms has come to life in front of you,” explains Mycoskie.

The gathering aspect is helped by a café serving food from local purveyors including Cafécito Organico and Pressed Juicery. There are tables, seating areas and plenty of outlets for people who want to stay a while. Groups that want to use the store as a home base from which to organize for causes can do that as well. Activities including performances, craft classes and movie screenings provide another reason to drop by the store. For those who want to take a peek at what’s going on through digital media, Toms has a dedicated blog and Instagram account tied to its flagship.

 

The community has taken to the concept. “The store is doing really well,” exclaims Mycoskie, adding, “Never seem to find an open seat when I go for a visit.” — RACHEL BROWN

 

1344 Abbot Kinney Boulevard; 310-314-9700

CHANEL AT COVENT GARDEN

London, England


Why stand in the way of success? That seems to be the philosophy that Chanel is following with its pop-up Chanel Beauté store in Covent Garden, London. As of Feb. 27, the newly refurbished store—the only one of its kind in the world—has become a permanent fixture in the popular shopping destination.

It originally opened its doors last July, in time for the Olympics, and was scheduled to remain open only until the end of December. However, its popularity has led to a permanent home. Covering 60 square meters, the store sells the full range of Chanel Beauté, as well as previewing new color collections weeks ahead of other U.K. counters. Downstairs features London’s first-ever Chanel nail bar, with three chairs offering manicures. A booking fee of 30 pounds (about $47 at current exchange), redeemable against purchase, applies. Chanel is also launching a master class service whereby the downstairs space can be booked for a 90-minute makeup lesson for up to six people. It costs 50 pounds (about $78) per person, also redeemable against purchases.

 

Once upon a time, Covent Garden was a thriving flower market (Eliza Doolittle, the central character in My Fair Lady, sold flowers here), a fact Chanel is highlighting with its Flower Stall, which will run in March to coincide with Britain’s Mother’s Day. The “stall” will celebrate the flowers used in the house’s scents. Fragrance experts will be on hand to offer olfactive consultations, and customers who purchase a 100-ml eau de parfum fragrance will receive a complimentary hand-tied posy of flowers with a handwritten note by a Chanel calligrapher. While there are no plans to open more such stores in the U.K., Chanel Beauté pop-up shops are planned for Omotesando in Tokyo (in late March) and Antara in Mexico City (May through December). —JULIA NEEL

 

Covent Garden Piazza; +44-207-240-2001

P&T

Berlin, Germany


Paper and tea: To Jens de Gruyter, these seemingly mundane products represent “two of mankind’s most important inventions to spread culture and communication.” He’s put his money where his mouth is by making them the focus of his new store, P & T, which aims to piece of merchandise, like synthetic-free Agoniste fragrances, has a tale to tell.

 

Traditionally, tea stores operate on what de Gruyter calls the pharmacy model—a seller behind a counter serves each consumer individually, with the wares out of reach. Aiming to enrich the shopping experience and speed up the purchase, he’s turned the tables by making the tea in his shop touchable and testable.

 

“We’re presenting tea as people are used to learning about cosmetics,” he says. Small glass dishes of tea leaves placed in order of oxidation (white tea, yellow tea, green tea, Oolong, black tea) are displayed next to informative yet humorous cards. Customers choose their favorites, then take part in a tasting on the opposite side of the store. In the center, customers can explore an array of artisanal papers. Buying is simple: Teas are prepackaged in small, medium and large pouches; prices run from a couple of euros to more than 100.

 

De Gruyter’s godfather was a tea trader, and de Gruyter spent part of his career in the licensing industry, travelling to places where tea is revered. He hopes to change how people in the West view the drink; his customers are culturally aware, creative people, who appreciate fine things, he says. For de Gruyter, selling premium products is a lot about education—“having a differentiated dialogue around a product, why it’s good, how it is made, what the benefits are,” he says. It seems people are listening: Open since mid-December, P & T has already attracted global attention, including online customers from as far away as Los Angeles and Jakarta. —SUSAN STONE

 

Bleibtreustrasse 4; +49-30-9561-5468

NUMBER ONE/LE JUS

Dallas, Texas


Sipping and shopping has deeper meaning at Number One/Le Jus, where everything ingestible is organic and each piece of merchandise, like synthetic-free Agoniste fragrances, has a tale to tell.

 

The Dallas café-boutique is a joint venture of Brian Bolke, the impresario of Forty Five Ten, Dallas’ local temple of luxury, and juicing guru Dana Card, whose retail résumé includes cofounding A Pea in the Pod. She rules the nutrient-dense café that’s free of grains, milk and sugar; he lays the shelves with goods that marry design with simplicity, repurposed materials, local origin and/or spiritual messages.

 

“The whole concept of organic and gluten-free food and juicing has come into the forefront of people’s minds, so the idea of combining the retail and food was to have synergy and a seamless transition between the two,” Bolke says. “People understand the environment the minute they walk in the door.”

 

Number One/Le Jus (the “s” is silent) is Bolke’s second new concept to open in the last year in Dallas. Its apothecary—think Aesop bath goods, Flower Road aromatherapy oils, Le Feu de L’Eau candles—has been a standout since the shop opened last November on a corner of tony Highland Park Village. Number One/ Le Jus also emphasizes casual, American-made wares by Herff Christiansen, Greg Lauren, Lady & the Sailor and Number One’s own collaboration with 88 Orange, plus leather bags by B. May and Newbark, among others. “People get in there and they are very interested in the story,” Bolke says. “If you are paying for something that is creating jobs in this country and has less of a carbon footprint, that makes a difference.”

The clientele ranges from globe-trotting 2-percenters to the city’s growing number of transplanted executives and their families. The challenge is to overcome the product-retail-Web overload that’s desensitizing them to shopping.

 

“In bricks and mortar, women are looking for a complete 360 experience,” he says. “That is really the difference today.” —HOLLY HABER

 

1 Highland Park Village; 214-520-0101

GENERAL STORE

San Francisco & Venice, California


Call it the antithesis of fast fashion. The artisanal movement has tapped into consumers’ longing for things local and authentic. The General Store is a retail outgrowth of that movement.

The concept originated a few years ago when artist and former Mollusk Surf Shop manager Serena Mitnik-Miller and her then- boyfriend, now husband, architect and artist Mason St. Peter noticed a vacant storefront near their home in San Francisco. They began to ponder the sort of store that would be the perfect complement to their Outer Sunset neighborhood, and General Store was born. Opened in 2010, the store has a mishmash of merchandise from ceramics to beauty products, and provides a platform for craftspeople whose wares will most certainly not be found on the shelves of big-box retailers.

 

In October of last year, Hannah Henderson, a friend of Mitnik-Miller and St. Peter, brought the General Store to the Los Angeles enclave of Venice. “I knew the community would love it,” says Henderson. At 1,400 square feet, the new store is quite a bit bigger than its San Francisco counterpart, which is less than 1,000 square feet, but Henderson emphasizes the vibe is the same. “It definitely feels different from other stores. It feels almost lived in,” she says. “It doesn’t feel contrived at all.”

The assortments in the two stores are similar as well. A lot of what’s stocked is made by pals of the owners or bought from artisans at craft fairs. A few of Henderson’s favorite lines include TW Workshop ceramics, Luke Bartels’ woodwork, Kkibo hand-knit sweaters and skin-care brand Earth Tu Face. “People are just getting tired of things that are mass- manufactured,” says Henderson. “You can buy something that is really cheap, but it falls apart. In our community in particular, they care about where things are made, who is making them and having something that will last and is special.” —R.B.

 

San Francisco: 4035 Judah Street; 415-682-0600

Venice: 1801 Lincoln Boulevard; 310-751-6393

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