Retail's New Architects: OTHER Shop

September 25, 2012 BY CAPSULESNEWS


21 Kingly St., London

A new store in London is showing how the evolution of modern fashion boutiques into unique spaces that encompass so much more than clothes is what is shaping the retail scene today.

London-based Kirk Beattie and Matthew Murphy are setting the blueprint for the way we want to shop now. The duo recently closed their London boutique b-Store—a hybrid retail showcase and art gallery, and have evolved their business with a new shop—The OTHER, which opened in September on London’s Kingly Street and online at Christophe Lemaire, Opening Ceremony, Our Legacy, Peter Jensen, and AM eyewear are among the shop’s current brand roster. There’s also special product collaborations, and a house clothing label which the duo describe as “perfectly executed [wardrobe] staples” for men and women.

But there’s much more to OTHER. “We offer a different and more personal experience... and continue to build our network through projects that attract like minded people,” says Murphy. The store’s exhibition space serves as a platform to present exclusive projects, art shows, and film launches with emerging artists, designers and brands. In this space, “customers became collaborators and then friends,” he explains. A bookshop, OTHER/publications, is curated by contemporary artist Sam Griffin and a small interior products collection, created with frequent collaborator Dean Edmonds, will be based around small incidental products such as a plant pot holder made from steel.

The shop’s website and blog offer the kind of content that’s more editorial than retail driven. Short pieces on the local coffee shop, cool friends, and French cinema paint a picture of what the Other scene?is all about. Item-driven features, such as one about the store’s best sweaters, are beautifully photographed, and help address the business of selling clothing.

The store’s mission statement sums it up nicely…”OTHER is London’s premier space for contemporary design, art and fashion… But it’s not all about shopping. From the moment you enter OTHER, you’re part of that family. It’s service and attention to detail, without fuss or pretention that makes a visit to OTHER unlike anywhere else.”

We caught up with Murphy and asked him a few questions:

Retail seems to be less about selling clothes these days and more about offering a unique experience to a community of likeminded individuals. Do you think fashion retail is evolving? And if so, how so and why?

I feel with web magazines, blogs and content on shopping sites, everything has become readily available. the consumer has knowledge of everything at very early stages of brands and designers careers, which results in nothing being new! For the independent store to survive and continue to interest its customers, it must offer an experience that is difficult to emulate online. An artistic community and cross media projects are important, as well as knowledgeable, friendly and passionate staff. Private events and launches are key for us to build and personalize our relationship with ourcustomers. All this has to lead to selling product, it is just a new way to it, less formal, more personal and a way to target and reach like minded consumers.

What’s inspiring you and Kirk right now? What sort of programming and unique products will we expect to see at OTHER shop in the coming months?

We have an exhibition during London Fashion Week with young London based photographer Luke Stephenson. The title is FOYER FAUNA and is based around indoor plants and their mundane environments. To compliment the photographic exhibition, he has also created a short film, with the same title, on how to plant and propagate plants. Luke's use of color and whimsical feel have inspired both the installation and film. At the beginning of October we launch a shoe collaboration with T & F SLACK, a London based artisan shoe maker. The capsule collection, aptly entitled OTHER/T & F SLACK, is a 3 style unisex, androgynous shoe collection, comprising of classic English shoe styles, such as a chukka boot, monk and derby shoes. The idea was to create a modern shoe collection, so we have used traditional shoe shapes but with a pared back design and use of modern materials, such as a TPU sole. In October, we will also launch a small interior products collaboration with Dean Edmonds. We have worked with Dean for many years and he designed and built some of the furniture in OTHER Shop. The collection will be based around small incidental products such as a plant pot holder made from steel, a sundries and incense, carved oak dishes and small table lamp. The idea with exclusive projects/collaborations is to continue to add interesting products to the offering that both inspires us and our customers.

We like the way your mission statement on your site doesn't even mention fashion first, and that community is first and foremost on the agenda. How do you hope to build the community? And who is your target customer?

From an early stage we understood that the most important part of our success was the customers, without them there is no point to the store. For an independent to survive amongst department stores and big chain stores, we have to offer a different and more personal experience. What appears to be our success is our openness and the environment created by this. All members of the team have to be approachable; we realized the main way that we added to our creative community was from the shop floor, customers became collaborators and then friends. We continue to build our network through projects that attract like-minded people. We don’t target a particular demographic as our customers come from a broad range of ages, styles and type, the common link being taste.