Street Clothes

London’s Warehouse channels “the energy of the city” with a dark, urban-inspired design
Posted June 26, 2017

When you step off Argyll Street in London’s West End and into the Warehouse flagship, you feel as if you’ve stepped right back onto the street. The British fashion retailer, which has been outfitting groovy gals in the U.K. since 1976, intended the two-level, 2700-square-foot shop to act as a continuation of the outside cityscape – as if the shopper is strolling between two buildings. The vibe centers on urban and industrial, with elements such as branded manhole covers, dark and moody hues, concrete floors and bright street markings layered throughout.

It’s all part of Warehouse’s newly launched brand mission, “Warehouse curates the city,” which Leicester, U.K.-based design agency Checkland Kindleysides channeled in store to highlight the fashion brand’s latest collections. The concept was introduced at the Argyll Street locale and is slated to roll out to additional locations in the U.K. and internationally.

The store’s perimeter walls are a mix of real brick slips as well as polycarbonate sheets adhered to a timber structure – both are illuminated from within via lightboxes. Industrial galvanized steel roller shutter doors mingle with a black-and-gray color palette to “recreate the shadowy effect of a city skyline,” notes Cuong Phan, senior designer, Checkland Kindleysides

Looking skyward, digital screens suspended from the center of the ceiling display a graphic sky filled with flocks of birds flitting from one screen to the next, encouraging the shopper to follow them through the space (these screens can also be updated with seasonal campaigns). Additional displays are found peppered throughout the store and showcase city scenery and skylines to further reinforce the theme and help break up the merchandising.

“Being a split-level store with a ground floor that has a relatively small footprint meant that we had to think of original ways to draw the customer in,” Phan says. “We created a linear journey, encouraging [her] to experience both levels and the different touchpoints along the way.”

To create that journey, the design team revised the original layout, including the dog-leg staircase (a flight of stairs that ascends to a half landing before turning 180 degrees), which had initially descended to the 1900-square-foot lower level and dead-ended directly into the fitting rooms. The new single-run staircase, complete with a yellow handrail that’s a subtle continuation of the yellow wayfinding street markings found on the concrete floor, helps guide shoppers to explore the merchandise first, before reaching the final leg of their journey: the fitting rooms.

“It’s a deliberate amplification of urban visual language,” Phan says. “Literal in one sense, but bold and direct in another, to really reflect and elevate the energy of the city.”