Browns opening flagship of the future this month beside Claridge’s
Few British fashion boutiques have as much mystique as Browns, the central London emporium which will open in a swish new location at 39 Brook Street on April 12, with an uber-innovative redesign and a sustainable restaurant.
Founded in 1970 by Joan Burstein, a legendary retailer credited with discovering such talent as John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan, Browns has always been a hyper influential store. Expect that to be magnified in its new location.
Situated on the corner of Brook Street and Avery Row, the new Browns is a stone’s throw from the UK capital’s plushest renovated five-star hotel, Claridge's.
Though not much larger than the original store on South Molton Street, the new four-story, 850-square-meter space located inside a Grade 2* listed building certainly offers a radically upgraded customer journey, even if the mix of brands and designers won’t really differ.
There is also a rather fabulous looking sustainable restaurant called Native, boasting an interior courtyard garden, almost unheard of in Mayfair, with 100% recycled marble tables and recycled cotton blankets made in Cornwall; sun-lit bar and a natty terrazzo flooring.
Head chef Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Native directer and co-founder Imogen Davis plan a zero-waste restaurant with a selection of closed-loop small plates, natural wines and foraged cocktails. Their existing restaurant by the same name, on Osea, a tidal island on the Essex coast, already has cult status for its biodynamic and low-intervention cuisine.
Browns' new ground floor has a Focus area, concentrating on an exclusive capsule collections; while upstairs there is an immersive room, featuring original oil paintings of Roman empresses and centurions. Browns will invite in brands and artists for exhibitions. The debut installation is by self-portraitist photographer Juno Calypso.
Add in a Fragrance Corner; Shoe Room; menswear; fine jewelry section; style advisor and concierge and this is very much a destination store. Currently, there is also a Browns East store in Shoreditch – which opened 2017 – but given the likely impact of this new boutique one suspects more are in the pipeline. Browns was acquired in 2015 by Farfetch, making it the only physical retail space within the rapidly growing digital luxury e-tailing empire.
“I am thrilled to see us open our flagship, Browns Brook Street, as we kick off 2021. There is an overall feeling of optimism for this new year and I can’t think of a better way to honor our role in luxury fashion over the past five decades, as well as set the tone for our next 50 years by clearly placing our foot firmly in the future of luxury retail. Our new magical home will inspire customers as well as usher in a fundamental shift in the way people shop, as layered into this connected, tech-enabled experience is a thoughtful and human side –which is so crucial in the current landscape where personal and personalization is pivotal... The space is truly sensorial; sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – offering a unique experience through each visit,” said Holli Rogers, the chair of Browns, recently appointed chief brand officer of Farfetch.
There’s also a new Club floor, a one-of-a-kind space with three VIP rooms, for truly pampered appointments. What Browns calls The Residencies for visits to makeup and tattoo artists available. Cushy spaces named Jimi, after Hendrix, who once lived nearby; Nancy (Lancaster); and Joan, after the founder, who still retains her famed elegance at the ripe age of 96.
Above all there is a beguiling blend of mid-century modern lighting; floral Victorian wallpaper; steel shelving; Elettra chairs; neon lamps by Eileen Gray; and golden classical bannisters – juxtaposition design courtesy of Dimore Studio.
“This is such an exciting milestone for Browns and for the Farfetch’s vision for Luxury New Retail (LNR), which we believe is the future of retail. Our Farfetch Platform Solutions (FPS) and Store of the Future Teams have worked with Browns to bring Farfetch’s state-of-the-art omnichannel retail technologies to the store to serve the changing needs of the luxury customer - both online and in this incredible physical space,” added José Neves, founder and CEO of Farfetch.
All in a building that is almost as storied as the boutique.
A blue plaque on the front wall of the 1720 mansion shows it was once the residence of Sir Jeffry Wyatville, an early 18th century architect, who designed elements of Windsor and Longleat castles and Chatsworth House. Sketches portray him as right out of Bridgerton's central casting.
The building’s previous tenant was Colefox & Fowler, whose tastemaker and owner was the legendary Nancy Lancaster. In a curious piece of symmetry, she lost her first husband, an heir to the Marshall Field department store fortune, in the influenza pandemic of 1918, the last global health scourge to hit the planet before Covid-19. Before going onto become known as the woman with “the finest taste of anyone in the world.”
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