In a city as eclectic as Barcelona, whose vibrant culture can be seen throughout its art, food and architecture, it’s perhaps no surprise that the city’s shopping scene is witnessing an eruption of creative concept stores. Filled with carefully curated products from the worlds of fashion, homeware, art and dining, these inventive boutiques are revolutionising the retail experience, aiming to provide an experience rather than a simple transaction
Trait Store opened in 2014 on Carrer del Parlament in the heart of the hip Sant Antoni district, and stocks a carefully selected range of workwear-inspired streetwear for both men and women, along with watches, sunglasses, bags and footwear.
Visitors will also find magazines and books, plus an ever-changing roster of unique items that have caught the eyes of founders Gabriel Ortiz and João Novaes. ‘For us, a concept store is more than a simple store,’ explains Ortiz. ‘It is a place where you can share different products that inspire you: perfumes, clothing, shoes ... Almost everything can have a space here if it fits in with the selection.’
‘I think Barcelona is rediscovering new cool spots in the city such as Sant Antoni, where we’re located,’ continues Ortiz, who believes that the evolution of some of the city’s oldest areas is fuelling a revolution in retail. ‘Old neighbourhoods are totally different now because they have new and vibrant businesses. Those spots are the perfect places for new concept stores that want to build a new story with brands and products in the city.’
Visitors to Trait Store will discover a melting pot of local and international brands, including Catalan fashion label Rita Row, Barcelona-based Verdugo, Parisian menswear brand Bleu de Paname, American streetwear specialist Carhartt WIP and Swedish denim expert Nudie Jeans. But while the selection of brands available is vast, they all fit with Ortiz and Novaes’s aesthetic vision for Trait Store. Keeping true to that vision is of the utmost importance for the founding pair, Ortiz explains. ‘If you want to add something extra to the customer’s experience, you need to offer a way of life rather than a simple product.’
Another store that transcends traditional retail divisions is Be. With three locations across the city, it has quickly become one of Barcelona’s leading concept-store names. Its branch on the city’s famous Avinguda Diagonal best captures the spirit of concept shopping.
Visitors will find a selection of fashion for men and women, including the team’s own range of small leather accessories, as well as interior design pieces, beauty products, books and magazines. The space has its own coffee shop and an idyllic garden, filled with flowers available for purchase, where customers can relax on reclaimed vintage garden furniture and day beds.
Award-winning designer Jaime Beriestain has been responsible for some of the city’s most captivating interiors, and his eponymous concept store has become something of an institution in Barcelona. Here Beriestain feels he can share his passions with his clients. ‘This space is an extension of my house and the objects I like to surround myself with. Here I can show everything that, for lack of space, I can’t have at home,’ he explains.
Reflecting Beriestain’s own diverse tastes, the store stocks an astonishingly varied selection of items under the Beriestain brand, from furniture and interior design pieces to candles, stationery, sunglasses and bags. There is even an in-house florist. ‘I consider it a laboratory that allows me to create and test the results of my experiments,’ he says.
Adding to the store’s multifaceted appeal is the adjoining restaurant and cocktail bar. Decorated to emulate the designer’s home, the Café and Showroom feature art from his private collection, including works by American conceptualist Peter Halley, British painter and sculptor Jason Martin and Barcelona’s own Yago Hortal, among others. The feeling of being at home extends to the menu, as Beriestain explains. ‘I am involved in every detail of my restaurant: the choice of food, the selection of small suppliers … I also bring lots of vegetables from my garden to be able to offer the quality I look for and the authenticity of each product.’
Perhaps the success of such stores in Barcelona can be best explained by the way their individuality adds to the city’s eclecticism. As Beriestain notes, ‘The good thing about every concept store is that each one has its own personality. In the end, we are all complementary because we are all different.’