Footwear companies are getting more creative when it comes to the in-store shopping experience.
For a trio of Spanish brands, that means enticing customers with innovative interior designs that seamlessly channel their DNA. However, planting flagships around the globe can still come with its share of challenges, whether it’s nearby competitors or sky-high rents.
After more than six decades in business, upscale men’s label Magnanni, based in Almansa, Spain, has finally taken the plunge into branded retail. Just last month, the family-owned company opened its first store, choosing a Paris address.
President Pascual Blanco told Footwear News that Magnanni previously has relied on retail partners such as Le Bon Marche for distribution, even though most fashion companies operate their own boutiques in the City of Light. Magnanni finally decided to follow suit with a store of its own after seeing success with a recent shop-in-shop in the luxury department store.
The brand’s new 1,076-sq.-ft., three-level space is in the Le Marais district, known for its hip restaurants, galleries and shopping. Created by Madrid-based architectural firm A-cero and Magnanni designer Luis Blanco, the store taps into the brand’s artisanal heritage by incorporating signature leathers for custom sofas and wall coverings.
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“We’re known for our work in leather,” said Pascual Blanco. “People coming into the store get the essence and feeling of our brand.”
The elegant shop takes the experience one step further with an on-site craftsman available to customize the leather color or finish for any shoe based on customer requests.
While Magnanni opts for a clublike atmosphere that speaks to its old-world craftsmanship, other Spanish labels such as Desigual and Camper prefer colorful, creative spaces that appeal to younger consumers.
A visit to one of Desigual’s 500 stores, for instance, is a virtual trip to an exotic bazaar. Its stores feature a mix of unique travel souvenirs, old-world style furniture, home accessories and artwork that offers an unexpected backdrop for its merchandise.
With locations in more than 100 countries, including the U.S., Indonesia, Denmark, Panama and Qatar, the Barcelona-based lifestyle brand prides itself on a colorful, avant-garde point of view.
“It all comes together in a bohemian jumble,” said Igone Bartumeu, corporate communications director, noting that an in-house team designs the stores. “We aim [for our stores] to be an unforgettable place, a relaxing oasis and dream world.”
For Mallorca-based fashion-comfort brand Camper, though, the emphasis is less on where the brand comes from and more about where it has gone.
“We’ve always been a diverse brand,” said Dalia Saliamonas, GM of the Americas, of the brand’s international perspective. “We like to explore and collaborate with the global community.”
Camper has roughly 400 shops worldwide, which account for about 70 percent of the brand’s overall sales.
Over the years it has tapped a number of renowned architects to create store spaces that are minimalist in look, yet convey a sense of humor. Two of its most recent architectural design partners have been Japan’s Shigeru Ban, who crafted Camper’s Soho store in New York, and Spain’s Fernando Amat.
“It’s part of our Mallorcan character — austere and simple, but with a twist,” said Saliamonas.
But the executive noted that crafting the right look is just part of the process. “Probably our biggest challenge is finding the adequate size [space] for our store,” she said.
And rent negotiations in major cities can be another issue. “They’re difficult for smaller companies,” said Saliamonas. “However, we make efforts and prioritize having premium retail spaces globally.”
While the company recently shuttered a New York location on Fifth Avenue (due to construction in the adjacent office building that blocked views of the store), Camper plans to open two new doors this year in Lower Manhattan — specifically, in the World Trade Center and on Bowery. That will bring its door count in the city to four.
Saliamonas pointed out that with a global retail presence, Camper’s branded portfolio is always in flux.
“We have closed some stores, opened others, and some [interior] designs have aged better than others,” she said. “It’s all part of the adventure that begins the day you start looking for a retail space.”