As a resident of the Upper East Side, a stroll down Madison Avenue always makes me stop and look past Gabriela Hearst’s flagship store. While still gorgeous, it’s not the clothes that catch my eye, but the sparkling collection of crystals that open up on a front table in plain view of the street. Reflecting the second half of the rainbow, each mineral is completely unique from its counterparts. Ragged or smooth, clear or opaque, large or small. From my perspective, the collection serves as a kind of portal to Hearst’s spirit and creative process, sometimes even more than the fashion itself.

The proof lies in her designs where you will find belts adorned with trench agate and sheath dresses adorned with crystals. This love affair with minerals and stones even led to the discovery of American icon and art dealer Hester Diamond, who was a huge influence on Hearst’s Spring / Summer 22 collection. “Nature always offers the most breathtaking beauty human eyes can see,” Hearst said in her performance notes. It therefore seems entirely appropriate that the designer displays these passions in her store, comparing the space more to a museum or at least a creative experience than a simple transactional atmosphere.

Photos: courtesy of Gabriela Hearst

gabriela heart
gabriela hears

In the vein of museum-like artifacts, pedestrians on Dallas Main Street (in Dallas, Texas) might think they’ve stumbled upon an art gallery rather than a fashion store as they walk past the multi-brand retailer Forty Five Ten. Before buyers even cross its threshold, they are greeted by the kinetic and wind sculpture Lucea, commissioned from artist Anthony Howe.

Beyond their sartorial offerings (whose tastes range from Dries Van Noten to Saint Laurent to Erdem), the goal of the design process can be summed up as an effort not to overshadow but rather to complement or frame fashion. “The most daring design moves are found in museum-quality artwork and sculpture by Jose Davila, Ugo Rondinone, Tony Tasset, Ryan Nord Kitchen, Aaron Curry, Rainer Judd and many more,” said President and COO Anne Wallach. “We are looking for luxurious finishes and, when not personalized, furniture from designers like Bertoia and Frank Gehry. Other interior features include ceramic tiles by Ceramica Suro, Arabescato marble, and a custom ornamental glass staircase.

forty five ten

Photo: Courtesy of Forty-Five Ten

Art, a form of creative expression not far from fashion, is often a major concern, as is the case with the location of Another Tomorrow’s West Village with an enduring spirit. “The art is a combination of our personal collections,” says founder and CEO Vanessa Barboni Hallik, “art includes the first major piece of photography I bought in my twenties, that of Alessandra Sanguinetti Necklace, as well as a number of [creative director] Jeanne [Chung]’s own framed editions of artist Wolfgang Tillmans’ Neue Welt wallet. The books are also ours, from The whole Earth catalog, a deep personal reference of mine since childhood, to Vivane Sassen, huge inspiration for Jane, books on climate science, indigenous architecture and the work written by a number of women that we have described through our Women of tomorrow series. “

These stores allow founders, especially those with direct-to-consumer storefronts, to say a little more about themselves without using words at all. “I find a store to be a wonderful opportunity and a design challenge because it has to express a cohesive story, while welcoming a much wider range of humans to engage in a somewhat specific set of experiences that need to be. be functional and pleasant, ”adds Barboni. Hallik, noting that the store’s goal is to both inspire and tell a story.

another tomorrow

Photo: Courtesy of Another Tomorrow

In designer Mara Hoffman’s first flagship store, you’ll find an assemblage of plants that rival any ready-to-wear collection. Instead of an interior designer or architect, Hoffman partnered with trusted landscape designer Kari Elwell of Mingo Designs to organize a botanical oasis right in the middle of SoHo. “I think my design sensibility always leads to plants,” the designer tells us. “I feel like they’re medicinal just existing.”

The other more traditional components of the store (ie clothes racks and displays) orbit a century-old light fixture: a tall palm tree named Gloria, an “epic mom” as Hoffman describes it. An architectural step-like element at the rear of the space serves as a home for the cascading planters. “I wanted to create a space that you come in and feel things in as opposed to this commercialized experience where you get to gain more things.” The store is also home to a rotating series of like-minded artists to better encapsulate the brand’s ethics.

Mara hoffman

Photo: Courtesy of Mara Hoffman

We came across another intriguing collection not to sell in Beth Bugdaycay’s Foundrae store. In addition to the fascinating exhibition of fine jewelry available, old books that littered her apartment now line the walls of her boutique on rue Lispenard. I am so inspired by the books, ”reveals Bugdaycay. “I love them for their design and the content is also a big part of my research.” Like a library, visitors have the option of viewing the books. “There’s a reason they come in and out without feeling like they have to buy something.”

Customers and, more often than not, those accompanying them need a place to rest their tired souls – read: soles. Beyond the eclectic (and specific) collections come the furniture and decoration. “Everything in our store is a personal item that I cherish and collect,” adds the co-founder and creative director. “I have antiques, vintage pieces, works of art and sculptures by contemporary artists.”

found

Photo: Courtesy of Foundrae

“Everything in the store speaks of influences that have inspired all of our different collections,” says Marlo Laz designer Jesse Marlo Lazowski. “It’s almost a glimpse into my mind and how I collect travel, art and design memorabilia that end up turning into jewelry designs.” The Bleecker Street store is home to Marlo Lazowski’s personal collection, including a Sottsass mirror, a favorite rug acquired on a trip to Marrakech years before, and a vintage Platner chair upholstered in historic Venetian fabric.

When organized by the same spirit as the designer, items can often fit into current collections. “The wall lights in the second room in our store are from the Italian period, and when I saw them, I was immediately drawn to the shape of the eyes that came to me. While not that obvious, to me they were the perfect nod to our Eyecon collection.

mario laz

Photos: courtesy of Marlo Laz

mario laz
mario laz

In an unsurprising discovery, these stores were all curated by someone who views space as something akin to a house. More than anything, we want our customers to feel comfortable, so placing interesting seat vignettes, fresh flowers, music, art, sunlight are all things people love in their own home, ”reiterates Forty Five Ten’s Wallach. Highly conceptual stores are living and breathable modules that evolve with fashion. “Just as we rearrange the decor and rooms in our homes for a refresh, so do we here, moving and repositioning elements to give the space and clothing a new light and perspective. “

The common pressure to buy something is meager compared to the desire to be inspired. It’s no secret that bricks and mortar offerings often look to experience to attract customers, but these spaces aren’t relying on the latest bait from AI or Instagram. Instead, they allow consumers to peek inside their creative processes, an effort made with unsigned items for sale. In essence, a store shouldn’t look like a store anymore.