In the decade or two that the Shinsegae Department Store has been the fashionable face of South Korea’s booming economy, menswear retailing has been stuck in a landscape of international brands and vendors’ concept shops.
But the retailer recently sought to redefine the customer experience on the menswear floor of its huge Seoul flagship.
“In other Korean stores, the brands’ shops are the dominant aspect,” says New York retail architect and designer Jeffrey Hutchison. “We felt it was important to make Shinsegae the dominant voice.”
While Shinsegae dominates, there was no intent to mute the voice of the powerful brands – Armani Collezioni, Burberry, Gucci, Hackett, Hugo Boss, Jill Sander, Paul Smith and Tom Ford. Decorative dark bronze frames each designer’s space on the floor. Dividing screens, picturing a modern nature pattern, inspire a feeling of peering through trees.
The approach Hutchison took was away from overt luxury and toward something a little more modern but simple and younger, combining classic materials with a sleek, modern twist.
“We knew the space needed to be rich and visually exciting,” the architect says, “but it also needed to resonate with a younger customer. With this in mind, we designed a space that in no way felt like ‘your father’s old suit store.’ ”
Hutchison drew inspiration from early modern Cubist art and the designs of the De Stijl movement. “We felt that it was important to make the space feel sculptural,” says the designer, who often uses sculptural architectural elements inside the stores he creates for Barneys New York. “So we designed a wood wall and ceiling with large pieces of geometric shapes pulled apart to break up the spaces and add a modern twist.
“This is unique. Most other Korean department stores typically keep these elements neutral.”
The entire space has what Hutchison calls “a distinctive Shinsegae vocabulary in which the individual luxury brands can live.”
It’s also a distinctive vocabulary that assures the store's loyal customers can comfortably live there, too. Wherever they look, shoppers know they're in a Shinsegae store.
Retailer: Shinsegae, Seoul
Design: Jeffrey Hutchison & Associates LLC, New York; Jeffrey Hutchison, president; Jason Linde, associate, design director; Ana Canton, project designer; Betse Ungemack, project designer
Lighting Design: Schwinghammer Lighting, New York
Flooring: Stone Source, New York
Mannequins/Forms: Genesis Display, German
Architect & General Contractor: Kesson, Seoul
Photography: Shinsegae Corporation, Seoul