Upscale multi-brand Chinese retailer Zuczug commissioned Kooo Architects to create a Shanghai boutique that would reduce barriers to entry for a wider demographic of shoppers. The architects took inspiration from public parks and playgrounds and found that doing so can be a valuable tool for offering more welcoming forms of retail design.
Shanghai – While a vast majority of apparel purchases happen in brick-and-mortar stores, a 2017 Oliver Wyman apparel consumer survey revealed that consumers tend to buy more online. The survey also found that DTC brand stores and website sales generate revenues that are 86 per cent higher than purchases in multi-brand stores.
The findings imply that multi-brand retailers need to set themselves apart by offering compelling in-store experiences to audiences that don’t have their needs met at traditional department stores, brand stores or online. In the Park, a new multi-brand lifestyle boutique from upscale Chinese retailer Zuczug, is meeting this benchmark.
The Shanghai concept store is modelled after a public park: Kooo Architects, the makers behind the space, first took to the city’s very own to get a better idea of open-to-all design at its finest. Then the team went to competing multi-brand stores, to understand the limitations that overdone high-end retail spaces can pose. The resulting boutique lets the visitors, not the space, decide who it’s for.
It’s a space in line with the current need for profitability of retail that appeals to and invites in a more diverse target audience. Earlier this spring, French fashion house Balmain installed an in-store VR experience in its Paris flagship with the aims of attracting a younger generation of luxury shoppers. But the interiors remain gilded, bedecked in marble and other fineries that scream about the exclusivity that this particular echelon of brands are notorious for. It’s not exactly the kind of environment that draws in the otherwise potentially turned-away consumer from the get-go. In the Park, with its unimposing, friendly façade, is exactly the kind that can.
Zuczug and Kooo’s goal isn’t just to tether 20-and-30-somethings in, but those of all age groups and consumer interests – and their children, too. Kojima Shinya and Kojima Ayaka, lead architects of Kooo, even anticipated for the future games of hide-and-seek the offspring of shopping parents often play. ‘Most of the recreational facilities [like a seesaw, slide and springs] are in irregular forms set up in different locations throughout the park,’ they said. ‘For the children who always look for them in excitement.’
Set up high and down low in the space, those features act as multi-functional merchandising tools. The use allowed Kooo Architects to experiment with spatial scale and to insert a sense of playfulness in the product-discovery process. The layout reflects this attention to user friendliness. It’s ‘a slightly messy shop,’ in Shinya and Ayaka’s words, that satisfies a range of in-store behaviours.
Multi-brand retailers have to up – and diversify – the shopping experience to survive. Creating a spatial balance between playfulness and sophistication can attract an audience from baby boomers to Gen Z.