Today’s customers are craving something different, and traditional brick-and-mortar stores no longer cut it. As a result, Concept shops are booming in popularity, and even mainstream brands have begun to emerge in this space.
Concept shops provide customers with innovative and inspirational retail spaces that exhibit carefully curated and unique selections of products that connect to an overarching theme (Trotter, 2018).
Concept Shops have been in existence since the early 1990s, with legendary Parisian store Collete being the first to open. In the past Concept shops were more of a cult fashion indulgence. There was only a handful in the world, and they were primarily known amongst Fashion insiders. However, with today’s love of curated spaces, concept shops are popping up all over the place. From Lagos Nigeria to Paris, France, here is my list of the coolest concept shops around the globe.
Corso Como 10, NYC
The Milanese born concept store has been a source of inspiration for fashion creatives for decades. Over the past several years, Corso Como 10 has opened up shops in Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, and now finally, the U.S. The New York location is located on Fulton Street in New York’s bustling South Street Seaport district adjacent to Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan.
The brainchild of former fashion editor Carla Sozzani, Corso Como 10, was created as an experiential space, launched with the vision to make a magazine come to life. The first Corso Como 10 was launched in Milan in the early ’90s and is named after its literal street address. Inspired by the Milanese flagship, Corso Como 10 NYC features the most Avante guard women’s and Menswear collections along with accessories, and fashion publications, all in a creative and inspiring space. When shopping at Corso Como 10, one can discover many rare to find pieces from designers such as Comme De Garcons, Junya Watanabe, Alaia, Dsquared 2, and many more. The shop carries its own branded and co-branded collections, along with collaborations and capsule collections. Much more than a retail space, Corso Como 10 is a source of inspiration and community for fashion lovers. Corso Como 10 NYC features a gallery space, a bookstore, along with an onsite garden in addition to an award-winning Italian restaurant. In keeping with the Milanese tradition, Corso Como 10 NYC hosts weekly apperitivos every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.
Gucci Wooster Concept Shop, Soho NYC
Launched in 2018, the Gucci concept shop is located at 63 Wooster St. in Soho, NY. The shop’s location acts as a tribute to the neighborhood. It takes its inspiration from the Soho of the 1980s, an iconic era in which the area was home to a creative class of artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers, and designers. The 10, 000 square foot space was launched as an experimental initiative to alter the mood in its stores to appeal to the millennial generation. As a result, the space functions as an immersive retail experience, where customers can design sneakers and handbags via augmented reality technology. There is a multi-sensorial space where customers can preview the latest collections from Dapper Dan, along with a screening room that makes use of 3D technology. Gucci Connectors are used to build an emotional connection with customers and inform them of the latest brand collaborations. The store is a change from the stiff and intimidating environment of luxury shopping. It has a playful, fun energy that can connect younger consumers with the brand.
Front De Mode, Paris
Front De Mode carries over 50 brands, all devoted to the same concept of uniting a variety of designers under one roof to promote an eco-friendly philosophy.
The eco –friendly concept shop was created in 2015 by Sakina M’Sa, a design graduate of L’institut Superieur, and a well-known name in French fashion. Font de Mode was founded on the idea of placing sustainability and eco –friendly fashion at the forefront. When one hears the term eco- friendly fashion, minimalism is what usually comes to mind. However, the collections carried throughout Front De Monde are anything but. Rich ethnic touches combined with hip street wear define the items that line the shelves of Front de Mode. All items in the shop are meticulously curated to pay homage to the creator’s design philosophy of bringing colorful exotic pieces to life. A section of the shop is blue devoted to the founders infamous Blue Collection. The shop carries Menswear, Womenswear and Unisex collections from both Parisian and International designers with an emphasis on Avante – Garde , Street wear and clothing made from recycled materials.
In addition to clothing, Front de Mode carries a unique selection of accessories inspired by the Bijoux. The eco-friendly concept shop also carries a range of beauty lines derived from all-natural ingredients. Front de Mode also has a section devoted to interior design and lifestyle in addition to food items. Front de Mode also features a workshop space.
Merci is a Paris must-see when it comes to concept shops. The shop has an interesting aesthetic and features a lovely courtyard with a vintage car parked in the front. Merci carries a variety of items from designer clothing to furniture, food, skincare , and stationery. The shop also features a restaurant, a vintage book store, in addition to an onsite cafe. To keep things exciting, every few months, Merci has a rotating theme, where new product lines are introduced along with a fresh shop aesthetic.
LECLAIREUR is truly inspirational when it comes to Parisian concept shops. Its shop at 10 Rue Herold was recognized in 2005 by Goldman and Sachs as the number one luxury shopping experience in the world. The Parisian chain of Concept shops boasts three locations in Paris in the heart of some of the cities most famous shopping districts, along with one Los Angeles location. Each shop has its unique concept and carries a curated selection of designers geared towards its theme. All but one of the shops carry both Womenswear and Menswear, along with contemporary artwork and Chic furniture collections such as Fornassetti. The Shops carry a wide range of Designers both Parisian and International. One can find many contemporary brands from Junya Watanabe to Chloe. The beauty of the brand is that each location provides a distinct shopping experience which varies from the other, in terms of different specially selected brands along with its unique design aesthetic and a custom shopping experience. For example, the LECLAIREUR Sévigné location at 40 rue de Sévigné, showcases Menswear and Womenswear collections which are hidden and revealed behind moving walls, which offers shoppers an interactive/dreamlike shopping experiences somewhere between illusion and reality. The LECLAIREUR Champs-Elysées at 26 avenue des Champs-Elysées, specializes exclusively in Menswear and carries both traditional along with contemporary Menswear collections. For a list of LECLAIREUR’s Paris Locations, please follow the links below.
Founded in 2014, Alara is definitely making a name for itself in the world of global concept shops. Located in the Port Victoria section of Lagos, Alara is Nigeria’s first concept shop. As a London native with roots in Nigeria, the shop’s founder Reni Folawiyo wanted to bring a sense of luxury to the city. Prior to the opening of Alara, the majority of Nigerians shopped abroad for luxury purchases. However, Alara stood out. The store’s concept lies in the fact that it carries a unique mix of African Luxury items combined with high-end collections from abroad.
One can find colorful eclectic one of a kind pieces with an artisanal twist from some of the countries most talented homegrown designers such as Maki Oh, Lanre de Silva Ajayi, and Tiffany Amber featured alongside brands such as Marni, Dries Van Noten, Stella Mc Cartney, and Valentino just to name a few. All items are carefully picked and each item tells a unique story. Alongside the amazing assortment of eclectic pieces, Alara also features one of a kind Artwork and inspirational design pieces. The Lagos jewel is becoming iconic and is in the same class as such notable concept shops such as one of my very own personal favorites such as Corso Como 10 of Milano, the hip Dover Street Market, and Paris legendary Collete. Alara has been featured in Vogue, Essence Magazine and B.O.F., putting it on the list of one of the world’s hottest concept shops. Apart from the store’s amazing assortment of items, the building is a definite must-see. Alara was custom designed by world-renowned Ghanaian- British Architect David Adjaye, the genius behind the African American Museum of History in Washington D.C. The contemporary designed building acts as the perfect space to showcase Alaras interesting assortment of items.
Galeries Lafayette Concept, Paris
Iconic Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette has opened up a new flagship store on Paris famed boulevard Champs Elysees. As the first of its kind, the new Galeries Lafayette is experimentation of sorts, the first concept store on the scale of a department store. The new flagship spans over four flours with each devoted to a different theme, carrying the most up to market collections in fashion, lifestyle, and beauty.
The department store carries over 600 collections, featuring emerging designers and luxury brands. To provide customers with a more customized shopping experience, Galerias Lafayette has taken high-quality service to the next level, with over 150 personalized stylists, specializing in different niches, such as streetwear, beauty, luxury and many more. The store has embraced the latest in retail technology by utilizing smart hanger technology to provide shoppers with detailed product information such as availability of styles and sizes.
The Store X Berlin
Located in Mitte Berlin, The Store X was opened in 2015. The Berlin concept shop offers visitors a unique and innovative shopping experience with one of a kind finds. The Berlin Concept shop spans over two floors where one can find a unique selection of items ranging from fashion, furniture and books, to music and art. The shop carries a distinctive mix of brands consisting of both national and international collections. The Store also features two onsite restaurant s Cecconi’s , and The Store Kitchen, in addition to hosting exclusive events and exhibitions at the stores onsite Studios..
No Wodka Berlin
Located in Berlin, No Wodka is a Concept Store and Gallery Space dedicated to polish design. The concept store prides itself on carrying well-crafted items with an innovate made in Poland twist.
No Wodka carries fashion and lifestyle collections, along with artwork from some of Poland’s most creative up and coming talents. The store has a section devoted to interior design as well as home fabrics and lighting. No Wodka also hosts regular events and workshops at its gallery space.
Forty Five Ten, Hudson Yards
If you are a lover of vintage fashion and eclectic pieces from Martin Margiela, then Forty-Five 10 is a must-see on your next trip to Hudson Yards. The Dallas based concept store, made its way to NYC last year with the opening of the massive retail space. Forty-Five 10 started in Dallas fifteen years ago with the idea of merging the worlds of fashion, art, and design. For its Hudson Yards space, Forty-Five 10 enlisted the help of retail design firm Snarkitecture to create an immersive ad engaging brick and mortar space where architectural details, contemporary art, and rotating exhibitions define the shopping experience. The store is 16000 sq. Ft., and has four individual sections, all of which are inspired by gallery exhibitions. Instead of traditional shelves and racks, installations by New York Based artists Greg Bogin are used to display products. Forty-Five 10’s four distinct sections house the latest in Menswear, womenswear, emerging, and home design. There is a vintage section where shoppers can find rare and collectible items such as fashion, handbags, art, books, jewelry, and furniture. An eclectic range of both American and International designers are carried throughout the shop, such as Jil Sanders, Marni, Rodarte, Margiela, and Marc Jacobs, along with exclusive capsule collections by artist Katie Stout.
Started in 2009, The Webster is one of the world’s hippest concept shops, with locations in Bel Harbour, NYC, Houston, Cosa Mesa, & Los Angeles along with the Miami Flagship that started it all. Founded by Laure Heriard Dubreuil, a former fashion merchandiser, the Webster was launched with the idea of creating a multi-brand luxury retail concept that mimicked the experience of residential space. The Webster took its name from the original 20,000 sq ft Art Deco Building constructed in 1939, in which the owners converted into a 3 level men’s and women’s boutique. The idea behind the merchandise is to mimic that of a personal wardrobe by combining High- End designers such as Balenciaga, Balmain, and Chanel, Lanvin, and Tomford with emerging brands, as well as introducing one a kind capsule collaborations specifically designed for the store.
Darial Concept Store Barcelona
Opened in late 2019, Darial is an absolute jewel when it comes to the world of Barcelona concept shops. Darial was conceptualized by Avant Guarde RTW designer Djaba Diassamidze and carries his collection, along with a variety of pieces from other well-known designers such as Loewe’s. Inspired by Art Deco, the mood and sophistication of 20th century cinematographic glamour can be felt throughout the space, along with hints of orientalism. The word Darial means gate in Old Persian, and can be recalled in the minimalist oriental arches that frame the aesthetic. Its golden palm tree pillars housed in an all-white setting make Darial an imaginative and one of a kind place. The massive 16,000 square ft. space features a section for RTW collections, a contemporary gallery space, a design-oriented bookstore, along with a restaurant Le Leopard, a modern brassiere that offers a combination of Spanish, French, and Italian cuisine.
Apropos Store, Germany
With locations in Munich, Dusseldorf, Cologne and Hamburg, Apropos is Germany’s premier concept shop. Apropos was founded more than thirty years ago by Klaus Ritzenhöfer and Daniel Riedo, with the idea that shopping should be a journey of self discovery. The concept stores carry a unique selection of items from around the world, with an emphasis on high end international designers, as well as beauty and interior design items.