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Credit By: Jack Stratten

The concept store has changed. Once it was about selling a certain lifestyle. The new retail concept store is a space where a brand is exploring a new direction, idea, initiative or concept – if you will.

These concept stores are a departure from the norm for the brands. They stand apart from the rest of the store portfolio. Or they’re an ecommerce brand’s wave-making new approach. They may be testbeds, they may be wildly different to the other spaces, they may be storytelling and engagement spaces. They may be permanent spaces or pop-ups or something in between. Some approaches have even been so well received they’ve been rolled out elsewhere.

We’ve scoured the world to bring together 47 of the very best new retail concept stores out there. These are the new, inspirational approaches to retailing that we think are redefining what the concept store can be.

1. AT&T (Seattle)

Tapping into Seattle’s coffee culture and booming tech scene, this space is a bold step for the global telecoms company. The concept is a space described as a ‘second living room’, where customers or non-customers can hang out, work, host events, browse various technology or enjoy coffee and food.

It also features a custom app that links to space, where users can order and pay for food and link to the in-store screens and tech. Customers can even shop and collect purchases in the space by receiving a custom QR code that links to a bank of lockers built into the wall. It’s an innovative space in an industry badly in need of new ideas for physical spaces.

2. Audi (Hong Kong)

Luxury automotive retailer Audi has opened an ‘innovation space’ in the Festival Walk shopping mall. Following the success of its pop-up store last year, this ‘experience store’ takes customers on a journey through the use of VR, allowing them to explore the full range of models.

Customers can also preview future car concepts which only helps to build brand loyalty. Over 40 models are available for customization here and customers can view every detail through a VR device and even take their newly designed car for a virtual spin.

3. Alexander McQueen (London)

Alexander McQueen’s store on Bond Street is a flagship with a difference. As well as displaying the latest collections from the retailer it also features archive designs as another way to drive footfall.

Photographs and artworks are displayed throughout the store and the space hosts talks and exhibitions to inspire students and hopefully foster new fashion talent. There are plans to refresh the interiors each season with fabrics from the Alexander McQueen studio. The focus on storytelling is apparent here, with the top floor entirely dedicated to showing the history of the brand, and the stories behind specific designs.

4. Balenciaga (New York)

Luxury fashion retailer Balenciaga has recently opened a flagship on Madison Avenue. The store focuses on the concept of space as a public domain. The theme here is Urbanism – where the environment is inspired by the city of New York. The benches and seats mimic the ones found in NYC parks and subway stations.

There is some good tech here too – with wraparound screens playing atmospheric videos. The space also features hyper-real mannequins based on 3D scans of real Balenciaga models.

The popular trend of displaying unique artworks in store is present here too. The silver sculpture by artist Tobias Spichtig takes center stage. For a limited time, there will be an on-site graffiti artist customizing customers’ Balenciaga bags – both new and old. There will also be a limited edition NYC shopping tote available here so there are plenty of reasons for Balenciaga fans to pop by.

5. Ba&sh (New York)

French fashion retailer Ba&sh has launched a brand new concept store in the Nolita neighbourhood of New York. The store is centred on customer experience and features a ‘dream closet’ where customers can choose some of the label’s signature items and ‘borrow’ them for 72 hours.

As a marketing exercise, there are plans to hold monthly events for influencers and their friends as a way of getting promoted on social media. It will also hold French lessons and pastry-making classes to draw more people to the boutique. This store has also honed in on its omnichannel experience with an app to make digital and physical shopping seamless.

6. Belstaff (London)

Luxury clothing brand Belstaff’s new flagship on Regent Street is an expression of its new community-first retail approach. The focus is on the ground floor, where customers can bring in old jackets to be repaired. This same space hosts classes on how to take care of leather and waxed clothing.

To supplement this, customers can enjoy an in-store coffee or a gin and tonic from its own bar. For a heritage retailer, this is a smart approach and it communicates its brand ethos powerfully.

7. Boots (London)

Health and beauty retailer Boots has launched a concept store in Covent Garden. The new space is the biggest makeover in the company’s 170 year history. The white marble tiled beauty hall is home to more than 300 brands and has its own YouTube studio and the Instagram area where shoppers can film or take pictures with their new purchases.

It is also tapping into the sustainability trend and has installed its first-ever water tap where customers can fill up water bottles free of charge. Other initiatives include a shampoo refill station and ditching plastic carrier bags for brown paper bags. The retailer is hoping to learn what people love about the store so it can be a blueprint for future stores.

8. Celine (New York)

Luxury fashion retailer Celine has opened a flagship concept store in New York. Located on Madison Avenue, it is another excellent example of the trend for discovery retail.

The artwork is adapted to the location, and the store’s aesthetic is very striking with a beautiful spiral staircase, framed with slats of glass and wood. The rest of the store is minimal which contrasts well with the art installations. As is the current trend in luxury fashion at the moment, the brand has also revamped its stores in Milan, Tokyo, and LA to better represent the label.

9. Chanel (Paris)

Chanel’s new flagship in Paris is essentially a test space for its newest digital initiatives. The luxury brand has partnered with Farfetch to trial clienteling tools that use data to create personalized shopping experiences.

For customers, these are accessed via the Chanel app – and the store is highly focused on its top tier customers. In fact the two top floors of the store are dedicated to VIP customers only, with personal styling rooms and a restaurant exclusively for private meals.

10. Cos (London)

Set in the new Coal Drops Yard shopping area in Kings Cross, H&M-owned fashion retailer Cos has a store that is more like an ongoing exhibition. This hybrid space works as both a special edit of their collection and a destination for art and design.

The unique brand experience hosts work from both established and emerging artists to entice customers into the store. As well as curating its own collection, it also offers limited edition prints, a selection of books and other products from brands with a story to tell. The addition of other products, all curated by Cos, gives customers a better insight into the lifestyle of the brand.

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