Harvey Nichols goes boutique
Harvey Nichols’ flagship store at Knightsbridge has unveiled a refurbished menswear department, brandishing an exciting new concept. Covering 28,000sq ft. the menswear section now presents 270 brands through a collection of boutique-type rooms.
Specialising in retail and hotel projects, Virgile + Partners is an integrated offer within the Imagination Group. Based in London, and established since 1990, Virgile + Partners typically carry out luxury retail projects and department stores, and clients include Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Burberry and Swarovski. The company operates not only in the UK, but also in locations such as Europe, Asia, Middle East, Russia and America.
Carlos Virgile, Director of Virgile + Partners, (and Director of Imagination) spoke to Premier Retail, revealing that:
“We started to work with Harvey Nichols around two and a half years ago, beginning with the Harvey Nichols store at Birmingham which opened last year as a first step into the repositioning of the brand. More recently we have been working on refurbishing the flagship store at Knightsbridge.
“The first part of the programme was the refurbishment of the two levels of the lower ground of Harvey Nichols, which has been dedicated to Menswear for many years.
“Our brief encompassed the idea of understanding and changing the concept of luxury, into something more fun, creative and exciting. That is what we visually implemented in Birmingham, communicating the first representation of what the brand is about.”
Harvey Nichols is undergoing an extensive brand transformation, shifting the overall concept from a department store to a large boutique. The whole concept is undergoing change from ‘a shop within a shop’ retail framework to a more generic approach with a different Harvey Nichols’ new signature style. Luxury interior fit-out specialist Portview acted as main contractor on the project.
“In Menswear we have tried to push the boundaries even further than in Birmingham – it was a complex project as there were two lower ground levels with a complicated customer flow. The idea was to create individual rooms and improve circulation as initially, it was very difficult for customer to find their way around this area of the store. Also, the introduction of new escalators intended to attract more customers to visit the second underground level.
“The concept was to create a specialised boutique in each of the six main rooms, with its own identity and character – a more unconventional approach that aims to break the conventional norm of department stores.”
One room yet to have been revealed to the public is set to open on 11th May, offering a café and bar that fascinatingly, will stay open past usual retail hours. This little gem is an added bonus to the new Harvey Nichols concept, ideal for customers who wish to indulge in evening cocktails or drinks after work.
Materiality was a key part of the design scheme, as the concept was about contrasting materials and creating an eclectic mix of finishes and textures. Marble, natural stone and concrete are complemented by less-refined materials such as copper and plywood, to produce a raw finish. Polycarbonate sheets were used in the ceiling of one of the main rooms to add an interesting reflective element.
“There is a noticeable amount of different materials and this makes the overall effect quite unique; each room has a variation of the flooring material, with bespoke furniture and fixture crafted specifically for the store.
“The main challenge from a design point was to create a new image of luxury with the Harvey Nichols male customer in mind but also to improve circulation making the store design flow, creating the right customer experience.
“Rather than just a place to shop, we wanted something more engaging, fun and exciting so that people want to spend more time in the store, almost like being part of a club – and I think that has been achieved. We have had amazing press coverage and the brands’ and customers’ feedback has been very good.”