While the online shopping boom shows no sign of abating, new concept stores pop up every day – especially in urban environments. Whether specialty coffee, manicures, organic cereals, or exclusive design objects, whether secret gigs or extraordinary exhibitions: Designed to dazzle and inspire us with bold, bright, and beautiful immersive experiences that transcend mere consumption and consumerism, these new design and fashion empires are all about setting new benchmarks.
Always ahead of her times, fashion icon Coco Chanel already knew that “fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with the ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Infused with this elusive, encompassing spirit, the latest generation of concept stores aims to conjure up entire brand experiences. By now firm fixtures in the world’s major metropolises, they have become almost ubiquitous – but only the best stand out from the crowd and manage to surprise customers with one-of-a-kind shopping experiences. Ideally, these concept stores eventually become living, thriving spaces that contribute to the city’s urban life. So, join us to explore the best examples found between Madrid and New York City.
El Paracaidista, Madrid
Tucked away in a grand palais in Madrid’s hip Malasaña district, El Paracaidista exudes a dream world appeal to both its creators and curious visitors. A dedicated team of trend scouts has filled the store with curiosities from around the globe, but all of the objects and products on display are distinguished by their sustainable, user-friendly design – and every single one of them tells its own story.
Each level of the store houses a different theme, ranging from café and exhibition space to a movie theater with charming vintage seats. On the first and second story, a shopper’s paradise awaits: Here, eagle-eyed magpies find a rich choice of clothing and accessories, homewares, furniture, cosmetics, music, books, magazines – all hand-picked to match the store’s eclectic standards.
Further up, a themed bar and beautiful patio await, stunning view across the quarter’s rooftops and beyond included. The ingenious twist? There is no need to lug a heavy bag or shopping basket around while you shop. Just use the store’s app to buy your finds and then decide whether you’d like to have these purchases delivered or whether you’d prefer to pick them up in one of the ground floor bars after a delicious cocktail (or two).
X Bank, Amsterdam
Housed in a former KAS Bank building, designed in 1908 by the architect F.W.M. Poggenbeek, X Bank is part of a new cultural center launched in the W Hotel back in February 2016. Already considered an epicenter of Dutch creativity, the 700-square-meter X Bank is located right in Amsterdam’s central red light district and attracts the best the country’s creative scene has to offer, including one of the largest and most exclusive collections of Dutch fashion with items by international art and design labels as well as products by up-and-coming talents.
Incidentally, the creative incubator was founded with a prime goal in mind: to serve as a hub for the city’s thriving art scene. Across four different spaces, it highlights a range of different aspects – a shop, an exhibition space, a gallery, and a meeting place – all dedicated to innovation and personalized shopping experiences.
After all, X Bank places great emphasis on customer interaction with exceptional service and those small signs of attention that underscore a sense of appreciation. While the store’s exterior was designed by the Winhov architectural studio, its interior was shaped by Alon Baranowitz and Irene Kronenberg. Together, they have crafted an eye-catching result that retains the space’s history and original structure, smoothly segueing into the surrounding cityscape: a true gem and treasure in the crown of the Dutch metropolis.
LX Factory, Lisbon
LX Factory, built on top of the ruins of an old factory on the banks of the River Tejo, perfectly pinpoints Lisbon’s vibrant, avant-garde-inspired spirit. At the same time, it is one of the world’s best concept stores, period. With its focus on young, local artists and designers, the brick complex brims with examples of the excellent graffiti and street art that thrives in the Portuguese capital.
If you get a chance to visit, don’t miss the Ler Devagar bookstore or the in-house La Cantina eatery, a former canteen for the area’s factory workers. With its lively atmosphere and huge, shared tables, it revives a welcome sense of community spirit.
Upper Concept Store, Paris
Located on the Île Saint-Louis, right in the heart of Paris between Pont Marie and Pont de la Tournelle, the Upper Concept Store not only offers a wide range of clothing and design highlights, but also invites contemporary artists and creatives from all parts of the world – as well as fresh local talents – to fill its dedicated art space with inspiring delights.
The modern, cozy store environment also houses a co-working space, a store for costume jewelry, leatherwares, and decoration, a cafeteria, and even an event space for a wide variety of uses, including master classes by iconic French directors like Olivier Mégaton (“Transporter 3”).
Snickarbacken 7, Stockholm
A former stable, built all the way back in 1800, now gets a new lease of life with Snickarbacken 7 – a concept store comprising a gallery, café, design shop, and restaurant. With its thick stone walls and extremely high ceilings, the space resembles a monastery hall, leaving generous room for the lovingly curated selection of homewares, jewelry, paper products, books, yoga mats, or delectable coffees on display. Hungry for more? Then head for the in-exhibition café restaurant for a tasty breakfast or lunch, prepped with premium organic ingredients.
Brooklyn Grange, New York City
Brookyn Grange is the brainchild of the entrepreneur Ben Flanner. In 2010, he started this store with a crystal-clear mission: to promote a healthy, organic diet. Now expanded to two NYC locations, his outlets not only serve culinary excellence to nature lovers and gourmets alike, but also grow more than 18 tons of local herbs and vegetables each year to please patrons’ palates.
The tiny empire’s HQ can be found in Queens, on top of a commercial building – where Brooklyn Grange has established the world’s largest roof vegetable garden covering an impressive 30,000+ square meters. Here, a crew of dedicated gardeners grows fruit and vegetables using innovative and strictly organic methods, fertilizing their crops with compost sourced from the city’s own organic waste.
For those who lack time for a leisurely meal, Brooklyn Grange also has a dedicated store selling homemade sauces, honey, and environmentally friendly seasonal products. An associated yoga space is also available for private event rental and urban farming classes. A win for everyone involved, since urban farming boosts the local economy, creates new job opportunities, and makes nutritious food available to more residents.