Concept stores are multifunctional stores for the presentation and sale of women’s brands. Ideally, to update collections every two weeks, selling everything from underwear to outerwear. The store’s collection is formed very carefully, there should be no random things in it. This format is not very common in our country, but it is quite popular in Europe. The fundamental property of a concept store is the clarity of the idea that this store promotes. Important for the concept store is a well-thought-out number of brands sold, a certain balance between “a lot” and “a little”, so that there is fullness, but at the same time the store does not turn into a department store, a combination of well-known and unknown brands, luxury and more democratic. The conceptual idea of domestic concept stores often turns out to be difficult to define and blurred, especially since they really like to call everything by the overseas name “concept store”: if more than one brand is sold in the store, then here’s the “concept” for you. The concept of a concept store appeared on the fashion market in the 1990s. But attempts to create a special retail space have been known since the 1960s. In 1967, Italian stylist Elio Fiorucci, who came up with the idea to transfer the atmosphere of swinging London to Italy, opened the first concept store in the center of Milan, although the term “concept store” did not exist then. Among the traditional Italian luxury brands, he began selling completely new clothes for that time: outfits made of plastic, fabrics of bright acid colors. His store was different from everything else around. In the 80s, American designer Ralph Lauren opened several concept stores, the interior of which resembled a residential apartment. Paintings of dogs and horses on the walls, leather armchairs, vases with fresh flowers. In the shops you could buy classic men’s clothing in the spirit of the famous shops on Savile Row in London, riding clothes, clothes traditionally used by young people living in university colleges, as well as books, furniture and interior items, suitcases, jewelry and even bed linen and kitchen utensils. Lauren created stores in which interior items and household goods were united by a love of a certain aesthetic. In 1991, the famous Italian concept store Corso Como opened in Milan, which completely changed the traditional ideas about the clothing store. In one building there was a department with clothes and accessories, and women’s and men’s fashion are not separated from each other, perfumes, interior items, a music department, a restaurant, a bar, a bookstore, as well as an art gallery, which regularly hosted exhibitions. What united all these seemingly completely different items of trade was a clear and definite style determined by the taste of the creator of the concept store.
The term “concept store” was fixed in the late 90s, when a new principle of operation of multi-brand boutiques was formed. The main idea was to demonstrate a certain “lifestyle” in general. Examples of such retail spaces are Paris Colette, Berlin Quarter 206, Milan Corso Como, New York Moss. They promoted the format of total shopping “total shopping”. For the consumer, this opened up the opportunity to take advantage of the taste of the store owner, an expert in the field of “beautiful lifestyle”, and, without wasting time on a long shopping trip, buy everything at once. Many people have embraced the new retail space with great enthusiasm. English journalist Jenny Dalton wrote: “In a concept store, the objects themselves and their presentation are strikingly different from everything you see around you. The way these products are displayed is much more important than they are. The quality of the time spent in the concept store is important. Most people come here not for shopping, but for inspiration and atmosphere.” Kristina Adolfson, an employee of Swedish Elle, spoke about unusual stores as follows: “A concept store should expand taste horizons, otherwise it is not a concept store.” Italian journalist Marco Bozzer noted that these stores offer emotions, not goods: “The style of shopping in the concept store is exactly the opposite of what happens in regular stores, where the general feeling of comfort and fuss encourages quick impulsive purchases. The atmosphere here is soothing, but not numbing. As a result, a person buys exactly what he needs.” But there were also skeptics. French designer Nicolas Genel noted: “The role of the concept store is to present an alternative to the surrounding style. A different context should be suggested, social and even geographical. It’s hard to immediately name such designer goods that would deserve to be in a concept store, because there is no serious alternative to the current lifestyle. We need to imagine a space that would change our vision of everyday life.”