GDR reviews… the new Warehouse flagship

Sep 21, 2016

British women’s fashion brand Warehouse has opened a new flagship store on London’s Argyle Street. Taking the company in a new direction, the space has been designed to celebrate the brands heritage and to reflect its recent, radical rebrand. GDR Innovation Researcher Lamorna Byford went to find out if it had worked…

As a British millennial in my late twenties, I have long been the target customer for women’s’ fashion brand Warehouse. However, I have never shopped there. Their line felt irrelevant to me, often in the right ballpark, but never quite selling clothes that I actually wanted to wear. It was always a little too old, a little too lilac or a bit too fussy.

Over the last few years, brands like Cos, & Other Stories and Zara have come to be the favourite of the young, urban, professional woman. Warehouse has reacted by implementing a radical rebrand that is, reportedly, an attempt to pull itself into that space. The brand describes itself as “making fashion that captures today’s urban spirit and attitude, with a polished eccentricity that could only be British now”. Its clothes have been over-hauled, with a focus on high quality fabrics and contemporary, edgy cuts. To reflect this, the London flagship store has been re-designed by British retail design agency Checkland Kindleysides. So, has the brand pulled it off?

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The new space is certainly a statement. Accentuating a desire to appeal to the young, urban woman, the store is constructed from concrete, wood, corrugated plastic and white tiled walls, achieving a slick, metropolitan aesthetic. The bold yellow handrails and floor lines throughout are supposed to mirror the yellow lines on London’s roads, whilst the stone grey colour palette reflects the hues of the city. To me, this isn’t a distinctly British space, as the marketing material around the opening claimed, but, nevertheless, it is a striking space that utilises the visual semantics of urban life to great effect.

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The strongest design feature, however, is the ceiling. A white light box dotted with the black silhouettes of birds flying from the store entrance and down the staircase pulls customers into the lower retail space. The connotations of migration, compulsion and travel all seep into the feel of the store. This is clever signposting that leads the consumer straight to the product and the checkout area.

If opinion among us in the GDR office is anything to go by, Warehouse is achieving its aim of appealing to the audience it should always have connected with but didn’t. This flagship has succeeded in physicalising their brand vision. Warehouse is pulling itself back into the mainstream from the bleak space inhabited by a few ‘lost’ retailers in the British fashion landscape. Provided the product continues to appeal, this reboot could be a good lesson to others who are still out in the cold.

 

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