Sleek art deco curves, a pair of imposing doors, glossy lettering and lush potted plants dotted along the edge of the building: the flagship site of Timinis department store, in Cyprus’s capital Nicosia, is a masterclass in both architectural flair and the knack of enticing the customer before they even walk in through those (spectacularly tall) doors. The sheer modernity of the building belies the rich history that has seen it become one of Cyprus’s most eminent fashion emporiums. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine the humble beginnings of the brand when the rails inside are swinging with the world’s most directional and influential designers.
But humble those beginnings certainly were. It was in the late 20s that the young Michael Timinis was beginning to be frustrated at the lack of global and local style available in the island’s vibrant capital. Trade and industry was booming, so where was the high style? Across Europe, fashion was becoming not just a rarefied, elitist indulgence but something to which women everywhere were aspiring; Chanel’s boyish androgyny and the new, freeing silhouette she championed were a symbol of fashion reacting to social shifts. The pursuit of chic was reverberating all around Europe.
Against this setting, and with Nicosia’s booming export industry creating a new group of wealthy people who needed the finery to go with their new lifestyles, the young entrepreneur set up his own store in 1933, bringing together clothing from all over Europe along with local labels, and educating his clients about the designers on offer.
Today, Timinis boasts five stores across Cyprus, having reacted shrewdly to the boom in tourism from the 70s onwards to launch in Larnaca, Ayia Napa and Paphos. The labels on offer are all-encompassing and wide reaching, from youth-market-orientated Diesel to the quiet sophistication of Burberry, the high-octane glamour of Versace (perfect for cocktails on the terrace of Paphos’s renowned Annabelle hotel bar) and the easy accessibility of Armani Jeans. The stores now encompasses womenswear, menswear and children’s clothing, with fashion heavy-hitters Canali and Barbour on offer for the sartorially clued-up man-about-town, and even Ralph Lauren for children. German label Hugo Boss, the go-to brand for elegant, smart suiting, is one of Timinis’s most popular names, thanks to the Cypriot penchant for pared-back classicism, with last year seeing the launch of a store-within-a-store to house all the Hugo Boss brands in one enclave.
In an age of global expansion, internet shopping and fast fashion, not to mention the heady influx of labels that Timinis works with, it would be easy to forge ahead furiously and forget the importance of people. Not here, says director Michael Timinis, son of the founder. ‘People are our most important aspect. We believe in taking care of our staff and in offering the most extensive training in order for them to fully satisfy our clientele.’
Shopping as an experience is a key element of Timinis’s success. Attentive staff members are educated in the labels stocked and the seasonal trends that consumers are devouring, with clients able to be informed when their favourite designer arrives. Desperate for the latest pair of Diesel jeans? Timinis will alert you the second they arrive. The stores themselves offer a truly sensory experience: architecture that wouldn’t look out of place among the most cutting-edge edifices on Miami beach, say; stock intelligently edited and spaced out so that the shopper seeking respite from the world outside has ample room to consider and take time out; and plush areas devoted to relaxation amid the hubbub of the capital.
Today, the Timinis brand is set to expand even further, with the company turning its hand to property in the form of a collaboration with Curium Palace Hotel in Limassol, creating the same calm, minimal interiors for them that customers experience in store, along with working on designs for a series of luxury beach apartments in Paphos and Pervolia. Could founder Michael Timinis ever have predicted that his humble Nicosia store would one day be part of an empire spanning fashion, interiors and hotels?