LONDON — Matchesfashion.com is getting ready to open the doors to its new Mayfair townhouse, at 5 Carlos Place here — and reimagine the shopping experience along the way.
The concept space – opening Tuesday and located opposite the Connaught Hotel and a stone’s throw away from luxury boutiques by the likes of Roksanda, Christopher Kane and Céline – presented an opportunity for the retailer to highlight what it stands for and offer a fresh take on modern-day shopping. And it’s all about personalized, intimate moments, inclusivity and a global outlook, according to Matches.
“Our door will always remain open. We’re saying welcome to everybody,” said Ulric Jerome, the company’s chief executive officer, during a preview.
The town house, which spans 7,000 square feet and five floors, is bringing together retail floors; private shopping suites; a kitchen complete with chef’s table that’s taken over by the Italian café Marchesi; a courtyard, and a new broadcasting hub, all under one roof — the idea being to create a space that lends itself to a range of experiences, from one-on-one shopping appointments to casual browsing, cultural events, culinary experiences and plenty of Instagram moments.
“Everyone is always searching for moments to create great content and we believe that 5 Carlos Place can generate a lot of these moments,” added Jerome, highlighting how every detail was thought out across the space, from the mirrored bathroom walls —which lend themselves to selfies — to the warm, monochromatic color palettes of the private shopping suites and the terracotta tiles along the staircase, an homage to Queen Anne whose love of terracotta bricks is reflected all along the buildings on nearby Mount Street. “This is a listed building, so we wanted to make sure that we kept to the original features and the spirit of the house,” the ceo said of the space.
Technology is another key element of the experience and is integrated throughout the building. The spiraling staircases, for instance, are dotted with art pieces that can be scanned to reveal video content, sharing the story of the artist behind them.
Tech is also used to enhance the work of personal shoppers: Customers can sign in by scanning a bar code at reception, which notifies the team of their arrival. They are then given a tour of the space before going to one of the suites, which is curated according to the items they have picked out, as well as additional ones, selected using data gathered from their wish lists, online baskets and purchase history.
Whatever is not available on-site can be ordered on the Matchesfashion app using its 90-minute delivery service, to then arrive back at the town house or at a private address.
“We use technology to amplify the experience and make it highly personal, but in a way that it’s not in your face,” said Jerome.
The company has developed an algorithm to generate future recommendations for clients and facilitate personal shoppers in suggesting new pieces or stylized outfits to their clients.
“We’re a technology business as well, so we built machine learning where we’re looking at your browsing history, we’re looking at your order history and also the family brands around the items you are buying, to make a selection through the algorithm and then push it through the recommendations section on the app. Stylists then go on to add their personal layer to it,” said Jerome, adding that the company plans to continue to develop new technologies that facilitate the conversation with the customer.
Having a flexible, multistoried space such as Carlos Place also provides a platform to partner with brands on a more experimental level.
Prada is the first brand to come into the space, marking the opening with an interactive installation and a 116-piece exclusive capsule for men and women.
“Prada was one of the first designers we really wanted to work with. It made sense, being men’s and women’s wear and a company that wants to work really collaboratively and be very much part of the creation of new ideas,” said head of men’s wear Damien Paul, pointing to a focus on technical pieces in bright new colorways.
The collaboration is presented over three floors and comes complete with flame-printed pinball machines, vending machines selling Matches x Prada branded highlighters and stickers, screens projecting quotes by Miuccia Prada and a lot of neon lights throughout the space.
Jerome highlighted that it’s important to work hand-in-hand with brands to create such concepts and showcase a clear point of view unique to Matchesfashion. “We want to give our take on a collection and something that makes sense with the rest of our offer. What brands are interested in working with us is the understanding of what would be our point of view on their collection. They see us as being very complimentary with what they do. They understand that we have a different way of doing things, that we have an audience that is different to their monobrand audience and they want to benefit from it,” he said.
Following on the heels of Prada, LVMH Prize-winner Marine Serre will move into the space, alongside “The Innovators,” a clutch of emerging names that will include Kevin Germanier and Ingy Stockholm, championed by the retailer’s fashion and buying director Natalie Kingham.
She said the aim is to involve a mix of established and new names and use the space and the accompanying events they plan to host with designers to educate consumers about the different ones the retailer is standing behind, their backgrounds and inspirations.
“It’s so great because it offers us a whole new platform to support a brand. Just like when we did our residences abroad and hosted talks with designers like Zandra Rhodes, who talked people through her inspiration from back in the Seventies. Customers immediately become more interested in the brand and its integrity and it does drive sales, too,” said Kingham, who often works up to a year ahead to determine the right brands to collaborate with, using data from the previous season and her personal instincts.
Future collaborators, who will also take residency in Carlos Place, will include Wales Bonner, Roland Mouret, Mary Katrantzou and Hillier Bartley, among others.
The collaborations are supported by a busy schedule of art, fashion and music events that customers can simply rsvp to through a new “What’s On” section, on the Matchesfashion web site. The highlights on the schedule include a book signing by Mario Sorrenti, an acoustic gig by Theresa Wayman, a supper club with Australian chef Skye Gyngell and a preview of 20th-century furniture auction pieces from Phillips Auction House.
“Everything is about the physicality. The space is open, it’s inclusive, it’s a first-come-first-served basis and all you have to do is rsvp directly online,” said Jerome.
For those outside London who cannot see the space or attend any of its events in person, the retailer plans to broadcast them via live-streams and podcasts, as part of its commitment to inclusivity and adopting a “global approach with physical events,” said Jerome.
“The beauty of this concept is that we can do something exciting in a physical space, but also use it to create amazing content that we will then broadcast to the world and reach millions of people. That’s the innovation,” he said. “We put good pressure on ourselves by organizing more than 40 events in the next two months, which will ultimately drive so much new content and new inspiration for the customer. Having this type of creative content is also in line with our vision, which is to be the most personalized shopping experience.”