I’d slip my toddler feet into anything I could reach. Almost every visit, my mother would have to fetch me from security after a friendly sales assistant took me by the hand and delivered me there. I was never scared, because I never felt alone. That’s why I’m convinced that, despite the convenience of an online click and “proceed to purchase” flash, there is no beating the allure of a shiny big department store. Or rather, a “multi-brand retailer.”
Flannels – widely known as the biggest British luxury retailer you’ve never heard of – must agree: its 18,000sq ft flagship opened on London’s Oxford Street this week. “With online, luxury shopping is no longer limited to the big cities, but we want to ensure all of our customers can enjoy the experience of choosing their pieces in a beautiful store environment, too,” says Michael Murray, head of elevation at Sports Direct Group, the conglomerate which owns Flannels.
Situated in the middle of Europe’s busiest shopping street and at the edge of Soho, the £10m concept space is designed by Italian studio Pconp (the people behind the covetable interiors for Gucci, Tom Ford and Saint Laurent) in partnership with the artist Riccardo Previdi. Think polished gold étagères, parquet wood and herringbone marble floors strewn with colourful kilim rugs. A mid-century chandelier by Gaetano Sciolari looms large over Seventies-era leather sofas and potted glossy green ferns. The four-floor emporium houses brands from Balmain to Burberry, Versace to Vetements, Gucci to Ganni. In addition to ready-to-wear and accessories, shoppers will also find technology and home accessories – in a practical spin, the fitting rooms boast charging points.
Expansion plans aren’t halting at London. “We have several really exciting openings in place, which will see us take Flannels to a national scale,” says Murray. The retailer has opened 17 stores within the last two years, including shops in Oxford, Newcastle, and Chester, and they plan to open another 16 stores across the country within the next year, tapping into customer bases in smaller towns such as Watford, Sutton and York.
But, back to London – where to really lose yourself? Head to the Flight Club space. In celebration of the opening, the store will play host to the US-based sneaker store famous for its rare and one-of-a-kind designs from the world’s biggest brands. As per, that’s where I’ll be parking my feet. Except this time, I’ll be able to find my size.