Westfield Stratford City opened its doors this week and a number of retailers used the opportunity to offer customers a new, interactive in-store experience.
Containing more than 300 stores and restaurants, the new east London centre has created over 10,000 new jobs.
The space has been chosen by several companies as the perfect location for debuting concepts in the UK, with fashion retailers Forever 21, Zara and River Island all offering new designs on a number of platforms.
Regular announcements of innovative design concepts prior to this week’s opening led to a high level of competition from retailers and a number of stores delayed unveilings to ensure that the best example of digital integration and unique design was displayed.
Fashion retailer Uniqlo opened a 10,000 sq ft shop, the first in the UK to open in line with the new UNIQLOglobal standard for all shop fittings, fixtures, and digital panels.
It was important to the company that the space stood out from others and design concepts were included at the front of the shop to stop passers-by in their tracks.
A mezzanine floor creating an atrium at the entrance to the store allowing for an open, spacious appearance while a floor to ceiling 8m tall glass display tank at the front of the space emphasises this.
There are however, a great number of other stores showcasing new digital concepts, including clothing retailer Fashion Rocks.
Initially created as a high-end fashion charity event, the brand has sought to build a retail arm of its business following FR by Fashion Rocks opening at Sheffield’s Meadowhall centre earlier this year.
Commenting on the Westfield Stratford opening last month, Angus Morrison, Chairman of Fashion Rocks, expressed delight over the development.
“The UK and Europe is looking to the scheme to provide new innovative designs, ideas and experiences in the world of leading retail and leisure, and we feel Fashion Rocks can contribute strongly to this with its unique blend of experience and retail,” he said.
The store runs over two levels and features events and unique content including a catwalk to showcase the latest trends as well as a laser display of brand names found in the store.
Music videos will also be visible on video walls to complement the in-store shopping experience.
High street giant Topshop provides space for events in its store, and is complemented by a glass-free 70 metre frontage, which aims to create maximum impact and allows easy access from the mall.
Mannequins stand either side of a bespoke ‘fashion avenue’ that stretches through the middle of the store, and the space also houses an interactive public area for
Topshop to interact with its customers and host its renowned seasonal workshops and talks.
Fashion favourite Forever 21’s unit offers all sub-brands including its children’s wear line, Forever 21 Girls, in a change from ranges offered at its flagship Oxford Street shop.
Covering three levels, the store includes an area known as The Heritage Room, featuring custom-built cabinets and vintage theatre seats to hold a wide range of merchandise.
A tiered triangle platform showing off merchandise on three levels which lights up has also been installed to appeal to younger consumers.
On a more general level, Westfield created the Studio East Panel, including artist Tracey Emin, supermodel Erin O’Connor and retail expert Mary Portas, who have identified and awarded talent following a competition.
Entrants interested in art, fashion and environmental innovations put forward ideas for judging and winners’ designs have been commissioned and are currently being built throughout the centre.
It seems that such healthy competition has helped raise the bar and push the centre into a new retail age.
Speaking prior to the opening, Bill Giouroukos, Director of Operations for Westfield UK/Europe, hailed the site as the ideal place for modern, interactive offerings.
“Stratford City is keen to establish its own identity in east London with a collection of strong UK and international retailers,” he said.
“We are working closely with all retailers to encourage new innovative store designs.”