ARKET, the latest new H&M fascia to arrive on London’s Regent Street in the last week, opened its doors today.
It follows hot on the heels of the retailer’s Weekday store launch, and judging by the queues of shoppers outside – keen to get a first-peek glimpse inside the new store – this was clearly an opening that had been eagerly awaited by those in know for some time.
Whilst quality may be at the forefront of the ARKET label, within apparel the price point of is still very much ‘affordable’. But in contrast to its fast fashion parent company H&M, ARKET is a label that is less about this season’s trends and more about design classics that you build your wardrobe around.
The store features some interesting points of ‘newness’ for those already familiar with other H&M fascias, including an eatery, located on the ground floor, and third-party branded products that can be found in the homeware and gifting areas – the latter, like its sister store Weekday, introduces an Urban Outfitters-type sensibility to the store.
Shoppers are also introduced to ARKET ID – the label’s attempt to turn the humble SKU number into a focal feature. Quirky it may be, but whether its stated aim of making it “easy for customers to find and re-find products both in physical and digital stores” really adds any true value to the shopping experience is questionable.
The physical store reflects the ethos of the products; simple style that is curated to look premium but not untouchable. Space is a major talking point here; as one sales assistant put it, they have “focused on the negative space”. Despite the first day crowds, the store still had a light and airy feel to it. Nothing was claustrophobic, achieving an instore feel that was almost luxury boutique-like. The high-level displays are a good example of an area where it felt like something was missing, when in fact they had deliberately been left empty.
One interesting feature was the ‘exhibition’ of colour at the entrance to each floor. Created to bring attention to the focal colour story in Men’s and Women’s, it features dyed yarns hung from a hanging system next to jars of coloured pigment.
Overall though, there is little to truly inspire or take your breath away. One tone of grey is used throughout the design theme – grey marble, grey fixtures, grey walls, grey hangers – while colour-blocked apparel collections and minimal bustforms give a very simplistic, clean look to the store. But with nothing in the way of eye-catching creative treatment, the pared down Scandi style felt a little flat, despite the obvious quality of the brand execution, fit out and product range. That said, the very handwriting of this label (simple and classic) means that is ever likely to be a danger.