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LONDON — A denim wave is set to wash over Selfridges, from food to beauty to women’s wear, to mark the launch of The Denim Studio, a space the store is calling the biggest denim destination in the world next Monday.
This story first appeared in the May 29, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Selfridges is aiming to raise the retail bar with a high-low denim offering that ranges from J Brand to Primark and services such as on-the-spot alterations and customizations, a personal shopping service and supermarket-style, self-operated tills.
The store has invested 6 million pounds, or $9.1 million at current exchange, setting up The Denim Studio, a 26,000-square-foot space that encompasses the former children’s department.
The vast corner area, which looks onto Oxford and Orchard streets, benefits from natural light and boasts windows and doors with original features such as leaded panes and moldings.
The Denim Studio will stock 100 brands and also house boutiques for J Brand, the label’s first; Primark; COS; American Apparel, and the British activewear retailer Sweaty Betty.
Selfridges will mark the opening with products and decorations ranging from blue cupcakes in the food hall, a range of blue nail polishes in the ground-floor Beauty Workshop and wash lines strung across the store’s main atrium, hung with bits of denim fabric.
Even the bronze statue of Josephine Baker on the ground floor will be clad in denim.
“We want to be the worldwide destination for denim,” said Sebastian Manes, the store’s buying and merchandising director, during a walkthrough of the space, which will also stock labels including Hudson, Citizens of Humanity and Paige, whose bejeweled jeans will be on sale for 11,000 pounds, or $17,000.
“Everyone — every age group — wears denim, whatever their style. It’s democratic. It appeals to locals and tourists,” he said, adding that a dedicated men’s denim space will open next year.
About 65 percent of the offer will be strictly denim — with 11,000 pairs on display — while the remainder of the merchandise will be casual staples such as jersey, knitwear and athleticwear, with brands including Rick Owens’ Dark Shadow and Adidas by Stella McCartney.
Labels including Stella McCartney, Erdem, Rupert Sanderson, Roland Mouret and Chrome Hearts have created exclusive designs to mark the opening. Their creations, part of a Denim Lovers collection, will hit the shop floor on June 24, the same day the store unveils its denim tribes windows.
Manes said the space has been in the works for two years and that the shop fit is meant to frame and enhance the product. It will feature light wood floors with a rough edge to them, wooden tables and cement or white walls. “We didn’t want anything competing with the color of the denim,” he said.
Manes’ team spent six months studying “how to push service to the maximum. There is so much space here and service is a priority. What we found is that there is a lot of choice with regard to denim, but the service is lacking,” he added.
To wit, there are 18 changing rooms, two of which will be reserved for Denim by Appointment, the area’s personal shopping service; and a Jeanius Bar with a digital, interactive table with denim-related content.
Inside the changing rooms, triptych mirrors will aim to offer an accurate view of fit and shape, while customers will be able to press a button that flashes blue to call for help from associates.
Nearby is a glass-enclosed workspace where tailors specialized in denim will do on-the-spot alterations at a price of 14.50 pounds, or $22, for a hem. The new space will also feature a haberdashery selling badges and patches.
For vintage denim lovers, there will be a temporary space for denim-by-the-kilo purchases where customers can measure out goods in a laundry basket, and another temporary space for vintage designer denim from the East End Thrift Store in London.
Primark, a division of Associated British Foods, which, like Selfridges, is owned by a branch of the Weston family, will have its own denim wall, offering jeans starting at 11 pounds, or $17. The space will also have a self-service checkout area.
The store will launch the space with a party on June 20 at the Selfridges hotel, with photographer Tom Craig shooting images of guests during the evening. Those pictures will be sent out virally the following day and form the basis of the ad campaign, which will be splashed across digital and outdoor platforms.