We’ve all heard it – ‘retail is dead’. And it’s not surprising either. The lives of Londoners are busier than ever, working hard to ensure we can afford London life, spending precious weekend time doing lovely things like brunching, visiting exhibitions and travelling. Brick and mortar stores may well be dead or at least dying. But there’s a different type of retail store that deserves a place in London’s shopping scene – concept stores. A visit to a concept store is an experience. Often brands create concept stores as a way of getting their customers involved with their brand, with experiential assets and attractive amenities to pull in shoppers who want more than just an in-and-out shopping trip. If you find yourself wanting to go on a physical shopping trip and want to experience a new way of consuming, visit one of the best concept stores in London and discover a new way to shop…
London’s Best Concept Stores
John Bell & Croyden
Not your average pharmacy. John Bell & Croyden, with a rich heritage and name as being the Queen’s pharmacy, has been dubbed ‘the pharmacy of the future’. Pop in for your pharmaceutical products (of which they have over 12,000) and stay for a facial and expert advice from the on-hand nutritionist. John Bell & Croyden, 50-54 Wigmore Street, Marylebone.
This concept store is all about reflecting the creativity of the part of London it resides in, Shoreditch. You can shop ready-to-wear and homeware from a carefully curated selection of brands, enjoy coffee from the cafe and take part in the in-store events which have in the past included talks from founders of the stocked brands, artistic installations, rum-tasting, and live music nights. Aida, 133 Shoreditch High Street.
The Shop at Bluebird
Having settled into their new home in Covent Garden’s Floral Street, The Shop at Bluebird is thriving once again. Here you can shop, eat at The Bluebird restaurant, get beauty treatments from Blink Brow Bar, enjoy art installations – this foliage-adorned store is a destination in itself. The Shop at Bluebird, Carriage Hall, 29 Floral Street, Covent Garden
Dover Street Market
Dover Street Market is the coolest department store in town. Enter on the ground floor and explore jewellery, then either walk up the wooden spiral staircases to other levels or take the old-school elevator and explore the brands, such as Comme des Garçons, Gucci and Bottega Veneta which are visually merchandised to look more like displays in art galleries than a normal shop. They install new spaces in the London store all the time, and the layout and creative design allow each brand to come to life rather than hang lifeless on a simple rail. Plus, the Rose Bakery on the top floor does great coffee and patisserie bits and has an array of independent magazines ready for you to sit back and read and enjoy. The perfectly unique accompaniment to a perfectly unique store. Dover Street Market, 18-22 Haymarket, Mayfair
Couverture & The Garbstore
You’ll find this creative conceptual store in a three storey townhouse in the heart of Notting Hill. It’s a place to shop independent homeware, accessory and ready-to-wear brands, alongside other quirky finds, laid out in an open layout which makes the discovery element of this shopping experience so much more interesting. Couverture & The Garbstore, 188 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill
Their flagship store in Shoreditch is the result of a host of pop-up concept stores back in 2013. Modern Society aims to connect with their customers, and their store is a pretty cool and comfortable place to do so. At the London store you can shop their eponymous, high-quality unisex label amongst many other fashion brands. The space, designed by Trend and Fayre, often hosts art and photography exhibitions, and there is also a cafe so you can shop and then drop in the comfort of coffee and cake. Modern Society, 33 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch
Whilst slightly off the beaten track, Bonds is well worth a visit. It’s compact and cosy and stocks artisan brands such as Earl of East candles and Austin and Austin organic beauty. It’s minimal without being cold, there’s a cafe area so you can fuel yourself whilst perusing the products, and you can even be in the presence of art being made – up the stairs you’ll find the studio space of resident KANA. They also put on workshops, such as how to make your own nude incense holder with artists Liv & Dom at their King’s Cross store, and multiple candle-making and blending workshops for beginners.