The rise of the mono-brand boutique is a phenomenon which shows no signs of slowing down in the luxury retail world. Brands rightly want to control the total customer experience and, moreover, increase their share of voice - many have complex stories to tell and cohabiting with other brands just does not 'cut the mustard' ! That does not mean that the creation of dedicated brand environment is easy or painless. Is an expensive proposition and that's assuming a brand can secure a credible space in one of the world's prime luxury retail locations. However, even with the digital experience growing in relevance and influence, the physical manifestation of a brand is essential.
And so it was a perfect start to the week that I chanced upon Bally's new flagship boutique on New Bond Street in London between meetings. Over three floors Bally have excelled in every criteria, they have created an environment which is so true to this Swiss brand that you feel you are part of the very fabric of the company from the second you step over the threshold. This is a true brand "cathedral". You may come to buy but you are certainly going to leave having paid tribute to the craftsman and designers current and past.
What makes it so special ? Words or the few pictures I quickly snapped do not do the experience justice but I will try.
This boutique caresses the senses from the first breath you take in the space. That heady smell of leather leads you by the nose from display to display. The lightning and decor are all about showcasing the merchandise to the best possible effect whilst, at the same time, using a degree of whimsy to encourage contact with the items. Bally is meant to be worn and that means touching - this isn't a museum. Felt pads and light wood ensure this is an environment without a trace of artifice. The detailing is as extraordinary as it is effortless. This speaks for a confident brand embracing modernity without compromising heritage.
The architecture is 'spare' and 'modern' but with a Swiss 'warmth'. This is not the aloofness of Scandinavia but a hybrid of efficiency and indulgence - the leather tape wound round all of the stair banisters, a perfect grip but yielding and a reminder of the craft that runs through every product in-store. The stairwell made me feel like I was moving between the floors of an Alpine resort. The Gentleman's Corner on the 3rd floor begs you to linger and get to work on a bespoke item - the only thing missing was a glass of something more appropriate for the early evening.
I would instruct other brands to look at how Bally have succeeded but that would be pointless - this creation is "so Bally" there is only one lesson to take away, be utterly true to your brand and you'll deliver the perfect retail experience.