Celebrating the opening at a party Friday evening, the company’s UK and Europe managing director, Gary Bott, also talked about its Selfridges concession opening Monday and detailed plans for further stores in the EMEA region, including Paris and Dubai.
The company is riding an eyewear wave in which sunglasses and frames are one of the most dynamic growth categories in the fashion sector at present. Gentle Monster is known for its unusual frame designs and its powerful creative collaborations and that’s a compelling USP.It needs to be compelling too as it’s in a location with plenty of competition.
The flagship opening, on Argyll Street, puts it in a prime retail and tourist spot (it’s a stone’s throw away from Liberty and is exactly opposite the London Palladium.) And the Selfridges concession sees it taking its place as one of the anchor brands in the latest phase of the Accessories hall.Its UK (and later on, its European) expansion comes on the back of news last September that L Catterton Asia invested in IICombined, the owner and operator of the brand.
The new Argyll Street location underlines just why the brand is so appealing to retailers such as Selfridges as it concentrates on the retail experience as much as the products. Bott said: “We are very much focused on creating a sensory experience for the customer, even down to the individual fragrance for each of our flagship stores.” With this in mind, the London flagship follows a completely different design scheme to the brand’s other stores and ‘experience’ really is at the heart of the layout. The firm’s in-house robotic’s team created the concept that mixes aliens with martial arts, focusing more on the visual appeal of Kung Fu than on its ability to cause serious physical damage. The idea is that extra-terrestrials were “captivated by the beauty of Kung Fu, presented in the most unexpected client point-of-view throughout the two floors”.