As London prepares to emerge from lockdown and retailers reopen their doors on April 12, Browns is betting on a brick-and-mortar revival and pent-up demand for shopping.
The storied retailer is opening a splashy new flagship on Brook Street in Mayfair as it relocates from its original digs on South Molton Street.
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Set over four floors, the new space features a zero-waste restaurant called Native at Browns and a courtyard — and celebrates the history of 39 Brook Street, a building that dates back to 1720 and formerly housed decorating firm Colefax and Fowler. Some areas have been left completely untouched.
“There is an overall feeling of optimism for this new year and I can’t think of a better way to honor our role in luxury fashion over the past five decades, as well as set the tone for our next 50 years, by clearly placing our foot firmly in the future of luxury retail,” said Holli Rogers, chair of Browns, part of Farfetch, which is helping infuse innovative tech into the store.
The store will play up experiential retail and personalized shopping experiences. For example, “The Club” on the top floor is geared to the retailer’s prime customers — it includes a bar space, “The Parlour,” and three personal shopping suites.
Here, Ida Petersson, womenswear and menswear buying director for Browns, talks about making a strong retail statement and how shoes will play a starring role in the new space.
Why is now the time to go big with a physical store?
Ida Petersson: “People in the U.K. have been confined to their houses for over a year so the urge to go out and explore is already within all of us. Browns Brook Street with its multi-layered experience is our way of capturing a hungry customer who wants more than just a product. The store is an experience in itself, with an ever changing line up of product, and experiences both physical and multi-sensory, as well as a lovely courtyard to relax with a drink. It’s the perfect antidote to the current groundhog day feeling we are all experiencing.”
Take us inside the shoe mix. How did you make a statement?
IP: “Giving our customers a vast assortment of choice when it came to shoes was key. For us, we really wanted to mix it up on all of the different floors and create a one of a kind experience. On the ground you’ll get your unisex sneaker fix, where it’s really all about the look rather than gender. You’ll have your pick from Dior’s latest logo sneakers, through to the latest collaborations from Nike and Adidas, coupled with an element of discovery — be it the newest sustainable sneaker on the block or just something we discovered on our (virtual) scouting of the globe. On the women’s floor, you’ll have your pick from the hottest hype brands like Mach & Mach and Amina Muaddi, mixed in with your true luxury brands such as Bottega, Prada, Céline, Gucci with a bit of fun thrown in from brands like Paris Texas and Ancuta Sarca. For men, a more formal and exclusive approach can be discovered on the second floor where you’ll find brands from the likes of John Lobb and Tom Ford through to Grenson and G.H. Bass.”
We’re starting to hear more designers and consumers get excited about the return of heels. What’s your take?
IP: “We already saw women en masse dress up for their regular night out last summer so we are expecting a similar uptake when the restrictions are lifted. As well as high heels, we’ve invested in kitten heels like Raf’s first runway pumps [for Prada], and Mach & Mach for those of us who will need a bit of practice before we step back up into our 100mms and beyond.”