New Eyewear Destination - Selfridges, London 2018

LONDON — Job done.

This week, Selfridges became home to the largest luxury accessories hall in the world, a 60,000-square-foot expanse of large and small leather goods, gifts, jewelry and, now, eyewear. On Thursday, it revealed the final phase of a multiyear project, a one-stop eyewear shop, offering 2,200 eyewear styles from 50 brands and eye exams, too.

Located behind contemporary handbags and near the new Duke Street entrance, the optical area is the fourth and final phase of a 300 million pounds-plus overhaul of the store’s ground floor.

The optical destination, the largest of its kind in the U.K., spans more than 4,000 square feet, and is part of the overall accessories hall on the eastern end of the store, which makes up one-third of Selfridges’ ground floor and one-tenth of the 600,000-square-foot Oxford Street flagship. 

Alex Cochrane Architects designed the space, which has a sense of playfulness with pops of orange, green and blue, as well as a honeycomb-like display on one wall. The team worked with white terrazzo and marble, walnut wood and rosewood veneer, glass, brass and felt. The space celebrates geometry — and texture — and the design dovetails with the overall accessories space, which was designed by David Chipperfield.

Gentle Monster has opened its own boutique adjacent to the space, while Chanel has a dedicated area within the optical area, selling a special edit of optical frames and sunglasses. Linda Farrow sits near the entrance, while Gucci, Prada and Dior are among the brands that anchor the new department.

Designs from a variety of contemporary brands are displayed along the walls, and optical frames and sunglasses are merchandised separately in easily identifiable sections. Across from Chanel is a special selection of exclusive, vintage, limited-edition and one-off items from around the world. Selfridges said that area will be constantly updated and is meant to be the ultimate destination for eyewear connoisseurs.

The central space is divided neatly by rectangular display units, and there are mirrors everywhere. “Wherever you pick up a pair of glasses, you won’t have to journey across the store to find a mirror, you can simply look up,” a Selfridges spokesman said during a walk-through.

“We’re displaying eyewear in a novel way so that access to glasses will be much easier and quicker,” he added. “Traditionally, eyewear is presented in display columns with slots. At Selfridges, eyewear pieces will simply sit, unfolded, on display shelves, ready to be worn.”

Gentle Monster permanent space in Selfridges

Gentle Monster permanent space in Selfridges  Courtesy Photo

New brands exclusive to Selfridges include Fak by Fak and Projekt Produkt, while longtime staples such as Grey Ant, Retrosuperfuture and Thierry Lasry have created exclusive designs to mark the opening. Loewe sunglasses will also make a comeback, with a new collection sold exclusively at the store. The Californian label Blake Kuwahara will be sold for the first time in a department store, and children’s eyewear will be available from brands such as Ray-Ban Junior and Oakley.

Prices range from 40 pounds for Le Spec sunglasses to 22,700 pounds for a pair of sunglasses by Maybach. Selfridges said it is expecting triple the number of customers than in the past, when its eyewear destination was located on the fourth floor.

Unusually for a department store or even a specialty retailer, the new optical space is also offering eye examinations and consultations that take place in separate rooms. Selfridges is working with state-of-the-art equipment, including the latest Optical Coherence Tomography technique, which allows a highly accurate clinical analysis of the eye using two- and three-dimensional medical imaging.

On Thursday, Selfridges also tugged open the curtain on Progressive Edit, which is near the eyewear destination and is meant to be a cutting-edge edit of handbags, small leather goods and other merchandise. Labels include Medea Sisters, Nita Suri, Oberkampf — an exclusive to the store — and Una Burke.

Nearby, Dover Street Market has curated a dedicated showcase of men’s and women’s fine and costume jewelry, the first jewelry display to be situated outside of Selfridges’ Wonder Room.

The pieces, which are presented in custom-made David Chipperfield cabinets, are not arranged by brand, but by style, color and shape, encouraging the customer to see the jewelry in a different light.

The Dover Street Market display sits near the Gentle Monster shop-in-shop, which could not be more different, decor-wise, from the South Korean eyewear label’s new Argyll Street store. The Selfridges narrative revolves around volcanic gas below Lake Caldera, the Canadian crater lake, with images of priests and residents offering prayers to stop the impending eruption.

New colors in the brand’s popular Afix sunglasses line have been created to mark the opening and are exclusive to Gentle Monster at Selfridges. The futuristic frames have been created in rose pink and daffodil yellow.