LONDON — It wasn’t William Sofield’s expertise at designing retail environments that got him hired to work on Belstaff’s new global flagship in London. Although, with feathers from Tom Ford, Gucci and Bottega Veneta in his cap, his credentials are impressive. No, it was for Studio Sofield’s residential portfolio.
“It’s called Belstaff House because this is our home,” said Harry Slatkin, Belstaff’s chief executive officer and vice chairman. “When you visit us, I want you to feel as if you are entering our home, a place that you could actually visit as opposed to shop. I’d rather you come in to visit us first and shop as a second thought.”
For all that hospitality, there’s plenty to buy in the new store. The full men’s and women’s collections, as well as the Goodwood Sports and Racing Collection by Belstaff, is available in the 3,500 square feet of sales space on the ground floor of the entire six-floor, 26,000-square-foot property. Just the ground floor and cellar (as back of house) are in use, but Slatkin confirmed he is “working on the plans [to expand into the rest of the store]. The building needed to be gutted and it was no easy feat opening one floor.” An additional 3,500 square feet of retail space on the second floor will be added as the brand’s collections grow, and there are plans for a Belstaff museum on the third floor.
“It’s funny because the London store was the first thing I did when we bought the business,” said Slatkin, for whom this opening represents a significant milestone in the two years and three months since the purchase of the brand by Labelux was revealed. “I remember when we bought the brand, we were just closing the deal and I was walking around London. I walked where we were on Conduit Street, I walked Bond Street, I walked New Bond Street and I walked Sloane Street. I knew we had to make a big statement because the brand lost its identity before we bought it, people didn’t even know it was British anymore. Was it German? Was it Italian? We are a British brand and we needed to send that message worldwide. We relaunched the brand worldwide and don’t think you can make a bigger statement than [this Bond Street store] because it’s a pretty big commitment to the brand and our history.”
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Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews