Switzerland typically takes a measured approach to retail reinvention. Rather than jumping on fast-moving trends, the country’s style leaders prefer to watch and wait patiently for a movement to prove successful before championing it on the shopping streets. Take, for example, the concept store. These one-off boutiques have become part of the Swiss shopping scene only in recent years and the universal high quality of these new additions shows that sometimes a more considered approach pays dividends.
Stores such as Correspondances and Concept Sud in Geneva offer diverse fashion options for the city’s most stylish residents. Menswear concept store Correspondances aims to revitalise the appearance of the city by breaking with tradition. ‘Towns in Europe tend to look more and more similar – same shops, same brands – so it becomes very repetitive and boring,’ explains the store’s owner Nicolas Trannoy. ‘People are tired of seeing the same thing and are looking for a more genuine approach. Geneva is a wonderful place to live and we felt it deserved a better shopping landscape. We look for the most interesting, relevant brands and make them available here.’
The store offers a mix of modern menswear, high-end sneakers, music and cookbooks and aims to highlight the connections between its diverse product ranges for its visitors. ‘If you are able to understand and appreciate the savoir faire in menswear you are most certainly able to appreciate music or photography with a similar approach,’ Trannoy explains.
Concept Sud, Geneva
Bertram Seitz, owner of Concept Sud, also wanted to challenge conventional retail models when he opened his Geneva-based store. ‘I wanted to shake the place up by bringing something different, an alternative to the luxury environment in Geneva,’ explains Seitz. ‘I’ve created a very personal space where people can discover avant-garde and timeless designers in a niche boutique that celebrates slowness, happiness and identity.’
Seitz co-owns the store with his wife Maha Daoudi Seitz and the pair aims to promote contemporary designers from a range of fields, from fashion and jewellery to art and interior décor. ‘We have products on offer by between six and eight designers and we strive to renew the selection every month,’ says Seitz. ‘At the moment Maroc ’n Roll luxury leather goods and Said Mahrouf are two of the most popular labels. Nothing is more special than owning a unique designer piece with its own story.’
P25 boutique, Lucerne
Even in smaller cities such as Lucerne, concept stores are on the rise. P25 boutique was one of the first to open. ‘We saw a great opportunity to combine all our passions and present them to an audience here,’ explains owner Uriel Koller. ‘Although Zürich and other cities in Europe are easily accessible, we want to offer something to locals and visitors to our great city and we believe we can keep up on the national and international stage.’
P25’s selection of high-end womenswear is focused on brands that are newly established or have limited availability. ‘We give young entrepreneurs, including Viu and Dillysocks of Zürich, a platform in Lucerne, and we also work with local artists and creatives,’ says Koller. ‘We want to make you feel right at home and encourage you to dream.’ For spring/summer 2015 the store is aiming to extend its already impressive range beyond fashion. ‘We increasingly want to put our focus on accessories, books, curios and furnishings,’ Koller explains.
Zürich’s concept store offering has recently been bolstered by the opening of menswear boutique AP&Co in September 2014. Co-owners Jeroen van Rooijen, Reto Caprez and Nico Pesko spotted a gap in the menswear market and developed the idea from there. ‘We felt there was a missing link for men who look for heritage, quality and spirit, not just fashion brands, a place where you can find specialities,’ says van Rooijen. ‘We have a strong history in made-to-measure and felt it would be good to give it a contemporary environment, bridging the worlds of business and leisurewear.’ The store offers a diverse selection including knitwear and shirts by Nico Pesko, neckwear by Friday Tieday and made-to-measure by Alferano.
Zürich’s women will find an array of delights at No 2. Co-owner Adrienne Purkert, who runs the store with Dominique von Albertini, describes it as a little wonderland. ‘There are two storeys filled with menswear, womenswear and accessories. Next door, in an old garage, you’ll find an atelier with an eclectic mix of vintage furniture, books and candles by Astier de Villatte. You have to work your way through the labyrinth,’ says Purkert. It looks likely that 2015 will be a big year for the store. ‘We've opened a new shop at Neumarkt 20 in the Old Town in Zürich. In spring, we go live with our new e-shop and we’ll have another big project in the summer,’ Purkert explains. ‘This is the year to visit Zürich – and us.’