Why first flagships are so crucial in fashion



The big fashion story this week was undoubtedly the long-awaited opening of Victoria Beckham’s first flagship store. Located on Mayfair’s Dover Street, and measuring over 6,000 sq ft, the store is clearly a huge investment and an incredible boost to the brand’s high fashion credentials. Victoria Beckham shows how crucial flagship stores are to up-and-coming brands, too; it is hard to beat a new flagship as a statement of brand identity, and as a way to create buzz. What the new VB store also confirms is the renaissance of Mayfair (particularly Mount St and Dover St) as a true fashion destination. As we’ll see, Mayfair is becoming the dream spot for UK and international luxury brands!

Victoria Beckham’s store has not been flashy in introducing itself to Mayfair. There was no high-profile launch party, for instance, just a low-key first day’s trading this week. This echoes the launch of French label Céline , which opened its Mount St doors with no fanfare whatsoever. However, the store itself looks absolutely incredible. Teaming up with architect Farshid Moussavi has produced a space that is itself like a work of art, and the brand is set to be positioned at the forefront of innovative retail strategies too. There are no tills in store, for example, with all transactions taking place via iPad. The store will also carry all-new exclusive ranges, making it even more desirable to Victoria Beckham fans.

Victoria Beckham, Dover Street
Victoria Beckham, Dover Street

All this demonstrates how powerful a flagship can be as the embodiment of a brand’s creative inspiration. And a first flagship store is even more important when crafting the sense of a brand in the real world. Many designers nowadays start their careers through online retailing, which makes the eventual appearance of a store even more special. Céline, for example, took over a year to open its Mayfair establishment, heightening the intrigue of the eventual launch. Another label to have recently opened its first flagship is Roksanda. As a young brand, it will be fascinating to see how the launch boosts the label in terms of profile.

Roksanda’s new store, funnily enough, is also located on Mount St, just down the road from Céline. Mount St and Dover Street are fast becoming the epicentre of London’s fashion retailing world. Openings in the last couple of years include Pringle of Scotland and Nicholas Kirkwood, and Christopher Kane, one of the most exciting British designers in years, is rumoured to be gearing up for a Mayfair launch . I think that the attraction of Mayfair comes from the great mix of establishments you can find there – as well as fashion boutiques, there are top-notch art galleries, restaurants and clubs. This provides a greater attraction for luxury customers than other streets in London which focus almost exclusively on high fashion and couture. Mount St and Dover St seem to have it all at the moment.

I’m so excited to see Victoria Beckham’s new flagship myself for the first time. Can you think of any other fashion areas which are undergoing a renaissance, like that happening in Mayfair? Let me know at moira@thembsgroup.co.uk, and have a fantastic weekend.