A Home Away From the Home Page
Posted September 16, 2018 5:15 p.m. EDT
LONDON — In an era of luxury e-tail dominated by digital-first brands, how can a website be given physical expression?
From the Moda Operandi town house in London to the RealReal flagships in New York, and the FarFetch-owned chain Browns’ first international venture the Nomad 2.0 store in Los Angeles, which opened earlier this month, that has become the question of the day. Now, just in time for London Fashion Week, the latest — and biggest — virtual vision to find bricks and mortar form has arrived in the shape of 5 Carlos Place, a five-story, 7,000-square-foot offering from Matchesfashion.com.
Situated in Mayfair, a stone’s throw from the Connaught hotel, Phillips auction house on Berkeley Square and the cluster of red brick fashion stores that line Mount Street, the town house, designed by the architect Philip Joseph (partner of the designer Erdem), is laden with shoppable furniture and art and manned by discreetly attentive staff.
Yet, said the chief executive, Ulric Jerome, looking out at the small, manicured garden: “This house is not so much about product as it is about creating memorable experiences.”
Well, OK. But what does that actually mean?
The first two floors are retail space, with layouts and brand offerings that change fortnightly. The inaugural installation, done with Prada, features wall-to-wall exclusive men’s and womenswear pieces offset by quirky brand-themed vending and pinball machines, and floor-to-ceiling video streams of past Prada collections. (Next up: a collaboration with the French designer Marine Serre.) Upstairs are spacious private shopping suites with lacquered walls, soft lighting and plush carpets, while beyond that is a top floor cafe that will also host culture and lifestyle talks and workshops, all livestreamed. A regular podcast will be available on Matchesfashion.com.
The feel is that of a very trendy members’ club, but behind the scenes there is the constant hum of state-of-the-art technology quietly guiding shoppers to the checkout. At the entrance guests can swipe their phones on QR codes, activating their Matchesfashion app and sending personal shoppers a customer bio and a record of their wish list and recent purchases. The full product range can also be delivered on-site within 90 minutes, whether you are a first-time shopper or seasoned customer.
“Just like online!” Jerome said cheerfully.