Promotion: Sarah Andelman, co-founder of Parisian concept store Colette, has discussed the unexpected approaches needed to succeed in the future retail landscape in a talk hosted by Dezeen and brand retail experts Liganova during Milan design week.
Andelman was in conversation with Dezeen's chief content officer Benedict Hobson at brand and retail experience company Liganova's Salone Club, a live event held in a lounge overlooking the rooftops of Milan.
The event explored the topic of the future of retail and how brands can create relevant and meaningful experiences in stores through curation and collaboration, with Andelman drawing on her decades of experience helming Colette alongside her mother, Colette Roussaux.
The Paris boutique – opened in 1997 and widely considered one of the most influential stores in the world – brought together fashion, streetwear and beauty products. The space also included a gallery, bookshop, cafe and "water bar" serving more than 100 varieties of bottled water.
Mother and daughter kept things fresh by changing the windows and displays every week, and Andelman said that it was the fact that they would always "renew ourselves" that meant people would come back to see what's new.
"We would always push and try to introduce things we haven't seen yet, and this permanent renewal," she said. "It was a mix of brands and mix of events. I think this energy helped create what Colette was."
Colette closed in late 2017 when it was almost at the height of its popularity and Andelman says going out on a high when the time felt right was "the best decision we took".
Andelman considers collaboration one of the keys to current and future retail success but says it has become harder than ever to make an impression in the space.
"Now there are so many unexpected collaborations that you're not surprised anymore," she said. "It's really everywhere."
"We had so many collaborations of brands with artists, brands with brands, I think now maybe we'll talk to writers, to architects, to hospitality, to find new ways of developing a new format of collaboration to bring a new dimension to the classic collaboration," she continued.
Curation is also key according to Andelman, who urges curators to embrace their idiosyncracies without fear. It is something she and Roussaux were known for at Colette, which presented high-end labels alongside undiscovered emerging designers.
"For a good curator I think you need knowledge, you need to know what exists, you need to be super curious, to have to go to multiple trade shows, showrooms, anything," she said. "You hear, you read, you follow information, you really just follow your instinct, to not try to duplicate something you have seen somewhere else."
In the future, she believes the real world and metaverse will come to intersect in the retail space, requiring continuity of approach from brands.
At the same time, there will continue to be a place for bricks-and-mortar stores, especially "retail experiences" that capture the senses and are almost museum-like in their approach.
"I think bricks and mortar are here to stay if there is this extra touch to make it the opposite of the internet, this human service, maybe a drink, this extra service that you won't find online," she said.
"I think it's fantastic for brands like Jacquemus to have a concept like its pop-up at Selfridges," she said. "It's a focus on one bag. You feel the water, you hear the sound."
"In an experience, I think you need all of these: the sound, the smell, the touch and the fact that it's not a system that they will duplicate in Tokyo, New York, but they really take the time to design something different for each market," she continued. "The challenge is to keep it short and to renew and do something completely different next time."
To learn more about Liganova, visit its website.
Milan design week 2022
Salone Club took place on 8 June as part of Milan design week 2022. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.
This article was written by Dezeen for Liganova as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.