LONDON — Two years ago, the best-selling suit at Selfridges was gray — across all designers and labels.
Boy, have times changed.
This week, the store is unveiling a new men’s designer area, Destination: Men’s Wear, in the first floor atrium of the Oxford Street store. The 3,240-square-foot space will feature labels new to the store including Lanvin and Marni, as well as Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Jil Sander and Rick Owens.
The focus will be on fashion pieces, and straight-off-the-runway styles, according to David Walker-Smith, director of men’s wear. “Men are buying statement pieces, and color and print are being recognized. Today, men are dressing to say: ‘This is who I am.’ They are embracing fashion with confidence,” said Walker-Smith in his sun-drenched office at the store.
He said Prada men’s has been outperforming, with men preferring to pick up runway and catwalk pieces rather than classics and staples. With Tom Ford, the items featured in the designer’s lookbooks and advertising are the biggest sellers. “That business has been way above what we originally planned,” he said, referring to Ford.
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Overall, the men’s designer business at the store is witnessing double-digit growth, said Walker-Smith, with some of the biggest increases coming from labels such as Vivienne Westwood, Maison Martin Margiela and Givenchy. Walker-Smith declined to give any sales figures or projections.
The opening is part of a multi-million dollar redevelopment strategy for men’s wear and accessories. The architect Alex Cochrane has designed the space around three sculptural plinths. The floor is made from stones cut in a hexagonal pattern, while freestanding rails made from brass with a bronze finish are meant to invite the customer in to wander and explore. The overall feeling is meant to be organic and fluid.
There will also be a feature wall of highly polished steel at the back that will be used for brand-specific pop-up concepts. The wall will launch with an installation by Lanvin. “From the start, we challenged the conventional approaches towards retail design, luxury and display,” said Cochrane.“In essence, our approach was sculpture park meets retail.”
Walker-Smith added: “The space is simple so that the product can sing.”
The store has also turned much of its attention to the fitting rooms, which are done in cobalt blue, with gray tweed. The area will offer beer, coffee and tea and have a sofa for shopping buddies.
The new department is only part of the story. In November, Walker-Smith will oversee the opening of the nearby men’s shoe hall, a 10,000-square-foot space — double the size of the previous one — with brands ranging from Converse to Tod’s and Prada.
Designed by the Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen, the space will have three brand boutiques and two bespoke salons as well as a pop-up area for special projects.
There will be 250 brands on offer, and exclusives by Dries Van Noten, Givenchy, Kenzo and Lanvin. Walker-Smith said it would be a “total destination” that will be organized by category, such as driving shoes, made-to-measure, classics, collaborations and catwalk.