LONDON — An experimental concept shop that’s set to open in London’s Belgravia next month is channeling the multiple zeitgeists sweeping through fashion and design: Experiential retail, the sharing economy, sustainability — and community.
The store, called 50m, will launch with 10 emerging labels on May 24 at the Eccleston Yards development near Victoria Station, WWD has learned.
Created by a socially minded, London-based collective called Something & Son, 50m aims to tackle the problem of high shop rents in London, support new design talent and build a creative and commercial community.
The store, which spans 2,420 square feet, will allow emerging talent to showcase their wares in a space that will also include hot-desking and events areas, a café and a social meeting spot.
Launch brands include men’s wear designer Daniel Fletcher; women’s wear designer Faustine Steinmetz; women’s wear designer Ryan Lo; Kepler, a clothing line founded in 2016 by Alexandra Hadjikyriacou and Jaimee Mckenna; London College of Fashion graduates Laundry Service; men’s wear designer Ka Wa Key; the creative director of Simo Markus Wernitznig; women’s wear designer Luke Anthony Rooney, London College of Fashion graduate Bethany Williams and the jewelry studio Räthel & Wolf, run by Sari Räthel and Ricarda Wolf.
Any designer can apply to join the 50m retail community, and if they’re chosen, they’ll receive a dedicated rail space from which to show and sell their work in exchange for a fee. They also hand a small percentage of their sales to 50m.
The space will be able to accommodate up to 30 designers at any time and offer a shared working space and a place to hold meetings with potential clients, much like a trade show, but for longer and more flexible periods of time. It will also be open to the public, not just members of the industry.
The name 50m comes from the 50 meters (164 feet) of clothes rail that will run along the inside walls of the unit.
The 10 launch members will be able to stay in their respective spaces for six months. Going forward, the business model will remain flexible, with some designers remaining for a day, others for a weekend, and others for three months or more.
The store also plans to offer a program of workshops and talks aimed at giving advice and support to emerging designers. Members will have access to nearly 30 industry and business mentors including the photographer Peter Yip; Jeff Skinner, executive director of the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at London Business School, and the London-based pattern cutter and designer Arena Page.
Paul Smyth, cofounder of Something & Son, said high London rents are locking so many emerging and small designers out of brick-and-mortar retail.
“I’ve always been interested in how the little guy gets started, and I think the world has increasingly become hostile to entrepreneurs — regardless of the sector you’re in,” said Smyth.
“Every year, hundreds of talented young designers graduate in London and many remain at the whim of the fashion industry, often getting priced out of the city,” he said, adding that the space is meant to foster a community where designers can cooperate, collaborate, and share their experiences.
The project is supported by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, a multibillion pound business belonging to the Duke of Westminster that owns swathes of prime property across central London.
Smyth said 50m has a 10-year lease on space, and he hopes to expand to 10,800 square feet in a few years’ time.
The Eccleston Yards development is set on 80,000 square feet of previously unused space between Belgravia and Victoria. It’s part of Grosvenor’s 2020 Vision to create flexible, open and experimental spaces for brands and events.
Eccleston has been conceived as a creative and wellbeing hub, with tenants such as Barry’s Bootcamp fitness and Central Working, a U.K.-wide shared workspace provider. Food, fashion, beauty, and well-being brands will also be in the mix.
“In Eccleston Yards we have created a new destination that showcases and champions creative, independent talent,” said Joanna Lea, director of retail leasing at Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, said, adding that “50m will deliver a pioneering concept store that offers a platform for emerging designers, which completely embodies the entrepreneurial and energetic spirit we aim to foster at Eccleston Yards.”
Something & Son is an activist-led collective that works across art, design and architecture to create socially and environmentally conscious environments. Its projects include the FARM:shop, an urban farming project in east London; Makerversity, which provides low-cost space and tools to a community of 300 makers in London and Amsterdam, and the Barking Bathhouse, an experimental community spa on the eastern outskirts of London that is now owned and run by the local community.