Partying with Robyn, enjoying a series of electric, ever-changing art installations, fixtures fashioned from 100% recycled plastics: Browns East is the cult nomadic concept store you need to know breaking the mould in retail.
Nestled just off of Redchurch Street in Shoreditch, the overall vision was to create “colourful, free-standing elements all moveable that allows the store to be completely transformed in a matter of minutes,” Browns’ Fashion Womenswear and Menswear Director tells HUNGER.
Ida adds: “Designed in collaboration with London based architects, Brinkworth, the store is both an intriguing and playful environment that takes cues from the immense creativity and boldness of East London. Set over two floors – one which predominately houses ready-to-wear and the other dedicated to accessories and fine jewellery.” Check out our full interview with Ida below talking new gen talent, exciting trends to watch and the power of social media.
Hey Ida! Talk us through the philosophy behind Browns East? How is it different from Browns’ South Molton Street store?
Browns East is the first incarnation of the Browns nomad project, a pioneering take on semi-permanent retail. The philosophy is that the environment is tailored to the city and neighbourhood in which is resides in. It’s an entirely flexible space allowing it to change and accommodate the curated Browns edit. Much like our South Molton Street store it holds the distinctive Browns DNA however we see it as a gateway to the Browns universe – it has a gender-fluid approach as well as an insight into a world wider than fashion with art, furniture, fragrance and more.
How do you approach curating brands for the store? Are you conscious of spotlighting younger labels as well as bigger names?
The stores is a regularly-rotating edit of the best new in styles spanning ready-to-wear, footwear, bags and fine jewellery from both the womenswear and menswear buys. We rotate it around every 4 weeks and are constantly looking to highlight new designers alongside the more well-known brands. The idea of discovering and championing new talent in this way has been at the heart of the Browns spirit since Mrs B first introduced the likes of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano to the UK client many years ago.
How do you source new brands? Do you find you’re discovering new brands on Instagram?
Myself and my team are constantly visiting new markets and exploring new parts of the world to discover both young and established talent to bring them back and introduce them to the client – this could be something we have seen in the traditional way during fashion week or perhaps something we have come across via a platform such as Instagram. We are constantly discovering new brands on social media and are looking to championing talent that we find outside of the traditional show schedule. It is also a great way to understand the interest in the brand as they usually have a very engaged customer.
What are your five favourite trends set to dominate SS19?
Californication: if you know me you know I am impartial to a little neon or tie-dye so this trend has me hooked.
Craftsmanship: I love the return to a more feminine silhouette with textured fabrics, laces and crochets.
Pared back: simple yet sophisticated. Situationist and Wright Le Chaplin are doing this trend well.
Prom-Queen: I am all about bringing eveningwear in to your everyday wardrobe and love the looks from Preen and Simone Rocha for. Valentino is king of this trend.
Heads Up: headwear is back in a big way. Hats, headbands, hair-clips – anything goes!
And a few emerging trends spotted at AW19 you’re excited about?
Sharp tailoring; Checks in some form or other be it hounds-tooth, tartan or Prince of Wales; Tulle and crystals; Hats in all their glory, from bucket hats to gaucho styles. Seventies colour palette with camels, army green and browns; Chunky sole shoes.
As a buyer you end up travelling a huge portion of the year – what fashion city/capital are you really excited about right now and why?
I am particularly excited about Shanghai at the moment. There is so much interest in Chinese designers and I’ll be travelling there later this March to check it out. We also still have a keen eye on South Korea, Tokyo and Georgia.
What are some of your most extravagant purchases you’ve bought from the store yourself? How would you describe your personal style?
I have too many shoes to account for and have been investing in new styles from the likes of Amina Muaddi, Midnight 00 and I love the new Burberry print pump.
With the rise and rise of new media, do you think stores need to work harder to create a unique retail experience for customers? How does Browns do this?
At Browns we are truly multi-channel and are always looking at unique experiences for our clients both in-store and online. Our East London store has an immersive room, a focus area and entrance space where we are able to host a multitude of brands from various disciplines including fashion and art. We are also working with the tech brilliance of Farfetch and Store of the Future to seamlessly integrate the online and offline shopping experience with things like magic mirrors, infinite shelves and one-hour delivery to Browns East.
Finally, what’s up next for Browns?
There are lots of exciting new things coming to Browns – new brands across menswear and womenswear as well as category launches including a dedicated space for High Performance on men’s in April. No doubt you’ll also see us outside of the UK again with another Nomad and stay tuned for Browns 50th anniversary celebrations in 2020.
Discover Browns East on 21 Club Row, London E2 7EY, and shop online via brownsfashion.com. SEE HUNGER’ s Browns Fashion edit below.