LONDON — The Kering-owned Balenciaga on Thursday unveiled its biggest European flagship on New Bond Street, which has been under renovation since last summer. The store will open to the public from Saturday.
The three-floor store on the corner of New Bond and Conduit Streets with luxury neighbors including Burberry, Hermès, Chanel, Miu Miu, Loro Piana and Louis Vuitton was formerly occupied by British footwear retailer Russell & Bromley. It offers a full range of products, including womenswear, menswear and accessories that are displayed on metal shelves and cement countertops.
The brand also showcased some 22 key looks from the fall 2022 collection during a preview, which included a floor-length coat made with mushroom leather, a blazer that can be packed into a pocket and the already viral “trash” bag, made famous by Kim Kardashian’s Instagram Stories.
The Bond Street branch is the fourth Balenciaga store to be completed with brand creative director Demna’s new raw architecture retail concept, which has been rolled out in stores on London’s Sloane Street and in Berlin, and Shanghai’s iAPM mall, where the largest flagship worldwide opened last November. Art director Niklas Bildstein Zaar and architect Andrea Faraguna of the Berlin-based studio Sub designed the London flagship.
The decor — which exposes the inner structure of the building and leaves surfaces intentionally raw — is like a combination of high-tech architecture’s pragmatic way of pipe arrangement and the typical urban setting in a post-apocalyptic video game. The brand believes that this is a more sustainable approach to luxury retail as it involves fewer new materials.
The collaboration with Dutch designer Tejo Remy also aims to reflect the brand’s eco commitment. He designed a piece of sitting furniture made with Balenciaga deadstock fabric for the Bond Street store, as the brand’s Art in Store project. More of his creations will be placed in Balenciaga stores in Beijing, Berlin, Beverly Hills, London, Milan, New York City, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo in the near future.
With COVID-19 related rules scrapped, the opening of the Balenciaga flagship on New Bond Street signals a bigger shift that’s happening on the historic shopping street, which measures half a mile and links Piccadilly with Oxford Street.
Megabrands are migrating northward to New Bond as the big luxury groups, and property companies, snap up real estate on the Oxford Street end of New Bond. That end of the street is about to get buzzier, too, with the inauguration of the major train and underground network Crossrail this year, and the upcoming opening of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hanover Square.
Kering’s other star brand Gucci, for example, will be moving from its longtime corner site on Old Bond Street to 144-146 New Bond Street. It is expected to take possession of the 16,000-square-foot space, which houses the Halcyon Gallery, in fall 2022. Trophaeum Asset Management, which owns most of Albemarle Street, other properties on New Bond Street and chunks of prime space around London, purchased the retail block in February 2020 from a firm controlled by the banker Joseph Safra.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has also been sliding its brands like chess pieces into key positions on New Bond Street. Last November, Celine opened next door to fellow LVMH brand Loewe, which is located at 41-42 New Bond Street, and its luxury neighbors include Ermenegildo Zegna, Alaïa, Smythson, Chloé, Ralph Lauren and Delvaux.