During the dog days of summer, European retailers are trying to lure shoppers with celebrity readings, themed evenings, teas, complimentary manicures and collaborations with artists. Here, a look at some of the innovative retail events taking place in the U.K. and on the Continent.
ANYA HINDMARCH: POP STARS
This story first appeared in the August 11, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Accessories designer Anya Hindmarch has introduced a series of temporary, miniature pop-up shops to her London stores in recent months, which have served to both pique the interest of passersby and pamper existing customers.
“Since the opening of our flagship stores in London, we have thought about ways in which we can work with the space and keep it fresh and exciting,” said Hindmarch. “We like partnering with other brands and products so we can introduce our customers to new experiences and show them things we love.”
Over the past year, beauty brand Cowshed has offered complimentary manicures in Hindmarch’s stores, while Chantecaille has given customers free makeovers. To celebrate the Chelsea Flower Show in May, ice cream maker William Norris set up in Hindmarch’s Sloane Street store for a week, while in October florists Scarlet & Violet created hand-tied posies for Hindmarch’s customers in the same space. Meanwhile, in mid-September, to coincide with London Fashion Week, the label plans to host a makeup artists’ workshop to teach customers how to execute a smoky eye makeup look.
Hindmarch said the benefits of the brands’ appearances to her business are twofold. “The success of guest appearances can be measured [both in terms of] boosts in sales to increased footfall [in the stores],” said the designer. “They have proved to be a wonderful way of strengthening our existing customer relationships and developing new ones.”
— Louise Bartlett
FRANZ KRALER MAKES CUSTOMERS FEEL AT HOME
Daniela Kraler said she and her husband, Franz, had invested more than 5 million euros, or $7.1 million, doubling the size of their multibrand store in Dobbiaco on the Italian-Austrian border, to better “pamper” their customers.
“We’re lucky in that we’ve had constant growth of around 15 to 20 percent year-over-year since we started 23 years ago,” Kraler said. “Who do we have to thank for this? The customer. We love our clients. They helped us grow and we wanted to repay them.”
The new 6,500-square-foot Franz Kraler boutique opened in July and retails clothing and accessories for all age groups from more than 70 international luxury brands.
Kraler explained the new store was designed to offer “a special welcome” not only to customers, but also to those accompanying them.
“We wanted to transform the journey through the store into a relaxing and engaging experience,” Kraler said.
This started with the use of glass and natural materials in the refurbishment of the building, which dates back to the turn of the 19th century.
“The shop is like a crystal castle,” Kraler said. “Clients come to the area to relax and have close contact with nature. The architecture of the shop reflects this.”
The “special welcome” extends to the layout of the store. As well as designated women’s, men’s and children’s ready-to-wear and accessories areas, the three-story boutique, which is wheelchair friendly, features a VIP area, a fireside reading area and a relax zone, where customers can order a coffee and something light to eat. There is also a children’s playroom, equipped with games and 3D videos and staffed by trained multilingual staff.
“We love our customers and their families and we want them to feel at home,” Kraler said.
Meanwhile, outside the store, there is a 21,500-square-foot garden, where customers can leave their dogs to be looked after while they shop.
“The well-being and the satisfaction of whoever enters the shop is and always has been the guiding principle of our business,” Kraler said.
— Andrew Roberts
MY SUGARLAND: SUGAR RUSH
My Sugarland, the north London fashion and lifestyle boutique founded by the former stylist Zoe Lem, has been a hive of activity this summer with themed nights, designer talks, workshops and special in-store events.
Last month Lem, whose store carries vintage clothing and labels such as Paul Smith, Betty Jackson and Eley Kishimoto, held a summer party with a cake stall, on-the-spot embroidery by designer Laura Lees and 20 percent off purchases.
Earlier this month, Lem held a Twenties-themed evening with a talk by Barbara Ann Kallaghan, founder of Kentucky’s Park Place vintage clothing museum. “Have you heard of the Beach Boys’ song ‘Barbara Ann’? Well, that’s her,” said Lem of Kallaghan, who talked through her top 20 tips for Twenties dressing during the evening. “She has so many stories to tell and the customers loved her,” said Lem, who provided complimentary wine and offered a 15 percent discount on all vintage clothing.
Lem said both events spurred sales at the store.
For fall, she is planning a series of talks, with speakers including Paul Smith, Betty Jackson and PPQ designer Amy Molyneux, and workshops to generate awareness of her fledgling designers, such as the millinery label Mary Jane Hats and jeweler Bernadette Deddens. “You turn up with an old pair of tights and leave with a hat,” said Lem, who plans to charge 30 pounds, or $51, for the millinery workshop.