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Shopwatch: Matchesfashion.com

Inspired by minimalist art, the new store from Matchesfashion.com is already proving its worth.

When Tom and Ruth Chapman decided to open a new store for Matchesfashion.com in Wimbledon Village - the birthplace of the designer business’s first shop 27 years ago - they were not inspired by other shopfits. Instead, they showed architects MRA Architecture & Design pieces of art and furniture as inspiration. Passionate about aesthetics, from art to mid-20th century furniture and architecture, Tom even sourced the 1960s three-piece suite on the first floor himself.

As such, the interior has been inspired by the work of artists including Donald Judd and Christopher Bruno, focusing on their pure forms and manipulation of shapes. On the ground floor, home to denim, footwear and accessories (and, on the day Drapers visited, brands including Balenciaga, Saint Laurent and Isabel Marant in womenswear, with Bottega Veneta, Valentino and Tod’s in menswear), this translates as flexible hanging fixtures set against a neutral background of terrazzo and toned timber veneer, with pops of teal and yellow.

Even on a cloudy, rainy day there is plenty of light coming through, thanks to the reconfiguration of the shopfront. Previously the site of an Italian restaurant, the new store has large windows to give it a better streetside presence and allow customers to see right through the shop. The Chapmans’ appreciation for vintage pieces was not the only factor in establishing the aesthetic and raison d’etre for the 3,445 sq ft store, which opened last month at 36 High Street - a desire to showcase the designer business’s digital credentials also played a major role.

Although it has 11 stores across London, Matchesfashion serves 195 countries via its website. So the Chapmans decided to bring together the physical and digital by shutting their four, smaller Wimbledon branches - two for women and two for men, which were in the process of closing as Drapers went to press - and open a larger store to house an edit of the 400- brands it offers online
across womenswear, menswear, footwear, accessories and jewellery.

“What is it about a physical store that draws people online and then back to the store again? Customer service,” says MRA director Anshu Srivastava, who designed the interior.

“And huge screens wouldn’t work here. We use iPads or smaller touch screens [for customers to browse the website] so it’s not so in your face,” adds Stephanie Srivastava, also a director at MRA.

The new store has no till point. Payment facilities are mobile-enabled so customers do not need to queue, and iPads are provided for customers wishing to browse the full collection.

Matchesfashion used a window display and a shop-in-shop to bring to life an edit of its online holiday shop, which is housed on the website 12 months of the year. Given that Matchesfashion is known for its international designer collections, it’s perhaps surprising that these ranges are on the first floor of the two-storey shop and not the ground, but there is a reason for this - the first floor is bigger.

“We needed to draw people upstairs, so we made a feature out of the staircase,” says Anshu. Indeed they did, including building a landing. The terrazzo stone staircase features aged brass fixtures and is lined with asymmetrically facetted birch veneer to create angular walls. A huge skylight with sculptural hanging screens lights up the walkway and the mannequins at the top of the staircase, with the help of artificial lighting during cloudy days.

Upstairs, womenswear brands such as Rochas, Nina Ricci, Dolce & Gabbana, Erdem and Mary Katrantzou and menswear brands including Lanvin, Moncler and Cerruti 1881 are hung on continuous perimeter rails amid Carrera marble plinths. Prices include Rochas’s Duchess flower devoré coat at £2,898 and a wild rose-print linen blouse from Dolce & Gabbana at £525 in womenswear, and Lanvin’s slim-leg jeans at £330 and jungle-print chino shorts from Moncler at £210 in menswear.

As well as a difference in product, the mood upstairs contrasts with the ground floor. Fully carpeted with a generous seating area - where Tom Chapman’s three-piece vintage suite can be found, together with a 1960s Sciolari chandelier - the upstairs space is intended to make shoppers feel relaxed and encourage them to linger. More iPads are available for browsing and shopping, together with copies of Matchesfashion’s seasonal magazines for men and women, now in their second editions.

Towards the back of the first floor, a screen denotes a change to the fine jewellery section. Pieces from brands including Fernando Jorge, Susan Foster and Elise Dray are presented in flat, glass-covered cabinets, lit up to allow the pieces to sparkle.

Tucked away in the corner behind this are the changing rooms, complete with silk wallpaper to match the silk-like carpet. The store has received numerous customer enquiries about where the floor covering can be bought from.

Early indications suggest the new store is performing well. According to a Matchesfashion spokeswoman, the plan was that the shop would achieve the same revenue as the four former Wimbledon stores combined. So far, the business is overachieving.

As for an overall verdict on the new store, Gino da Prato, director of distributor Fourmarketing, which supplies Matchesfashion, sums it up: “It’s a perfect environment for both man and woman to shop side by side. The shop is unique in a very aesthetically designed way, yet feels very independent and comfortable. All the staff were very welcoming and enthusiastic when promoting all of the collections.”

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