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The popular London store welcomes a new mix of designs for the teen shopper.By Sarah Harris
This story first appeared in the September 19, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
LONDON — Selfridges has just revamped its ground floor space, known as Spirit, to make it hipper and more diverse, with new labels, shop fits and concepts.
The 21,600-square-foot space at the London store, which traditionally carries young, fashion-forward brands, is aiming to appeal to a broader and older audience.
“Selfridges is about serious designer labels, Spirit doesn’t have to be,” said Luisa de Paula, buying manager for Selfridges contemporary division. “We needed to differentiate ourselves by making the area more fun. At the same time, we made it more grown up, with a stronger identity.
“We’re looking to attract new people, but also keep the ones we have. It’s great to be able to say that we have enough variety in Spirit now to attract three generations of women, not to mention providing them all with a little bit of fun.”
In addition to the new fashion offerings, there are 20 new, larger-fitting rooms, and a DJ booth. New brands were among the first subjects de Paula tackled.
“There were popular labels out there that we didn’t carry and it was time to address that,” she said. “It was vital to get Topshop in. It’s so successful, and it was noticeably missing.”
Spirit now carries Topshop’s eponymous top-of-the-range line, and its latest concept, called Boutique. There are other new brands organized by concept: Dress Up, Denim Street and Market Place.
“Spirit was a very hodgepodge department, so in order to make shopping easier, we had to create distinct areas,” de Paula said. “It immediately changed the pace and customers are now finding what they want more quickly.”
Dress Up features special-occasion wear, and brands include Bertie shoes, Karen Millen, Kookai, Oasis, Warehouse, French Connection and Ted Baker. De Paula said, “We wanted to retain the core business of Spirit, so therefore, we continued to carry these brands after the renovation.”
Denim Street is a jeans haven. Spirit now carries hip brands Fornarina and Miss Sixty, as well as Levi’s and Diesel. “Jeans are so big right now, the trend for denim is so ongoing and these are the brands that people are wearing,” she said.
Market Place reflects the new popularity of London markets like Portobello and Camden.
“Shopping habits have changed dramatically, even over the past five years,” de Paula said. “Before, to say you bought something off the market was seen as cheap. People wouldn’t wear second-hand clothes and the thought of Selfridges selling them was incomprehensible. Now people are vintage mad, they look at style icons like Kate Moss and aren’t afraid to mix old with new.”
Anchor brands include Boxfresh, Pepe, Firetrap, Pink Soda, Mikey and Tattoo. This season features a retro sports area with labels from Adidas originals to Fred Perry and One United.
Dolly Rockers, a brand that collects and sells vintage clothes, offers rails of dresses, skirts, jeans, velvet jackets and corduroys. Although prices are a little higher than what you’d find in a real market, each item has been hand-picked for its “cool” factor. Designed by London architects Soft Room, Market Place looks like an actual street market.
“The way the fixtures are positioned encourages the shopper to weave between, as they would in a real-life market, scouring through as they go,” de Paula said.
Banana Moon, a kooky, freestanding stall in the center of Spirit, offers kitsch housewares among other gimmicky objects. Items include a dustpan and brush decorated in plastic gems and priced at $18, Elvis playing cards at $4.50 and furry toilet seat covers for $44.99.
“We didn’t have a gift shop here, but we felt it was needed,” she said.
The concession, however, had a few problems with space allocation.
“We were going to have a bigger area here, but ended up with a space half the size,” said Niraj Jassy, owner of Banana Moon. “Things are a little cramped, but it’s worth it. It’s great for us to be part of this.”