Brands are turning to stylish apartment-like showrooms for their merchandise in an effort to make a more personal connection to the shopper and provide an aspirational setting to display their wares.
In Manhattan’s trendy SoHo district, a store called The Apartment by The Line occupies a third-floor loft apartment. It’s decked out in expensive furniture and art, the closets are packed with carefully yet realistically placed clothes, bags and shoes, and everything on display is for sale.
Giving “Shop at Home” a Whole New Meaning
The Apartment is ornately decorated and beautifully furnished, from closets to living rooms to bedrooms. Everything within was hand-selected by the team at Assembled Brands, an alliance that works with member companies (including The Line) to strengthen their brands and get exposure for their products, as well as provide business services like finance, accounting and marketing.
Displaying purchasable products in a home-like setting immediately establishes intimacy. Many brick-and-mortar stores already seek to emulate the aesthetic or feel of a high-end apartment or loft, but ultimately it still boils down to items on shelves. Walking into a literal closet with clothes and accessories displayed as though the closet was in regular use instantly forms a bond of familiarity with customers.
Apartment by The Line, New York
Home-like Stores Give Customers “A Better Sense of Context”
Seeing items displayed in their natural habitat, if you will, gives shoppers a much stronger visual sense of what kind of look they can create for their own space. A living room store display with magazines on the coffee table or a claw foot bathtub with towels draped over the side paints a vivid and relatable picture. IKEA has incorporated this method for years, using mock-ups of stylish homes or apartments to showcase their merchandise. But now high-end brands are taking a similar approach.
Across the pond in London, brands like Moda Operandi, Sézane, Kitri and Peter Pilotto have opened boutique shops in similar “apartment store” settings, with items for sale on display surrounded by flowers in vases and interesting statuary, with plenty of open space for leisurely browsing and even lounging.
Katie Baron, head of retail at innovation research company Stylus, told Business of Fashion that seeing clothing or furniture in a domestic setting gives customers a better sense of context.
“While a few years ago it used to be about establishing an identity that you can roll out to numerous places, the point of apartment stores is a sense of localization and curation,” she said. “The key [to a successful retail store] is immersion, intimacy, and a sense of brands needing to offer a whole lifestyle.”
L’appartement Sezane, Paris
Moda Operandi, New York
Peter Pilotto, London