Storefront secures Marylebone store for global eyewear brand, VIU
Established in 2013 in Switzerland, VIU is a recognized leader in disrupting the eyewear market through a unique offering of cutting-edge design and superior quality. VIU customers have the added advantage of being able to select up to four frames to trial at home, free of charge, before making their purchasing decision. It is this level of service, as well as the quality of the products, created using Italian Acetate, robust Japanese Titanium and 3D-printing technology, that sets it apart from the competition.
On the success of these values, VIU now has over 50 stores across Europe and Scandinavia and felt that the time was right to introduce its superior products and service offering to the UK market. First to launch was a Soho store which opened at the end of August and most recently, a 1,700 sq. ft store on London’s exclusive and vibrant Marylebone Lane.
This was procured by Storefront, the global expert in short term pop-up retail spaces, used by brands that want flexible retail environments to test out physical retail shops and new markets. This flexible retail is ideal for brands such as VIU, which started as an online retailer.
Why online retailers also need a physical space
“It is crucial for us to have physical stores. The journey for our customers starts online, but it leads them to visiting our stores and coming face to face with our brand and experiencing our high level of service,” says Stefanie Eifert, Head of PR & Communication for VIU. It is this level of interaction which cements the customer relationship with the brand, and cannot be replicated to the same extent by pure play retail alone.
Location is everything
Eifert explains, “We searched for a long time for a second store location, before enlisting the help of Storefront. A few years ago, we did a collaboration with Monocle eyewear in Marylebone and loved the area, so when Storefront suggested this location, we were thrilled!”
The area is surrounded by flourishing shops, galleries and restaurants, which compliment the VIU store and creates an optimum and vibrant environment for its customers. “Community and being in the right location are essential,” says Stefanie. “It’s all about engagement and being at the heart of the VIU demographic – something that the Marylebone location truly offers.”
Pop-ups allow for flexibility and experimentation
The Marylebone store will also serve as a creative and collaborative space and will host regular events, workshops and discussions with bright thinkers of London and beyond. The beauty of the pop-up space is that it allows for a modular and flexible retail design, which is ideal for experimentation and an opportunity to create multiple experiences. “We are looking to host dinners and events and partner alliances in the new store,” adds Eifert. “This has the power to go beyond retail and allows for powerful content generation and other far reaching benefits for the brand.”
The essence of the VIU brand is infused within the physical retail space and encourages the notion that pop-up stores are more than just temporary spaces. “There is symmetry between our online brand and the store design, in that everything is very clean and elegant and simplistic,” Stefanie elaborates. “Although all stores have the same set up, with the use of walls and frames, these are very flexible and we have looked at changing the materials from location to location, which aligns it to the local people and their surroundings,” explains Eifert.
Integrating the essence of a brand in the store design
The curator of VIU’s brand essence is Creative Director Fabrice Aeberhard. Under his guidance, the VIU design team working on the Marylebone store has preserved most of the original features of its Victorian building, which includes an extensive glass store front. The store space’s pre-existing exposed brick walls and stone flooring have been preserved to create a natural symbiosis between VIU’s distinctive design elements and the building’s original architecture.
The style in which VIU’s design DNA has been infused is subtle, natural and sustainable. Stacked box shapes used to display the frames, have been manufactured by fully recycled black compressed paper board. They are supported by wooden frames that are crafted from solid construction timber; a material that yields a minimal waste percentage of 2-4%. The flexibility of these display materials also allows the retail concept to evolve as time progresses.
Comments Eifert, “The VIU brand is about being conscious, simple and honest. With the Marylebone store, we have created a retail experience with minimal waste, maximum transparency for the consumer and ultimate functionality of every design element.”
As Charlie Farr, UK Director adds, “Helping VIU to find the optimum location has been really important to us. At the heart of our service offering is delivering temporary retail space that truly compliments the brand and we felt that the Marylebone area offered the right mix for VIU and the direction in which they are going. We are delighted that we were able to source and secure the Marylebone store for them in a tight two-week time frame.”