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VF creates bespoke London showcase to immerse retail buyers in its brands

VF, the parent group of ‘maker brands’ that include The North Face, Vans, Timberland and Dickies, has opened a digital showcase space – called Axtell Soho - in central London.

The five storey space, just off the retail heartland of Regent Street, has been conceived as a business-to-business brand showcase that will immerse retail buyers into the world of each VF brand. It is arranged like a series of stores, with each brand benefitting from its own visual merchandising style: the Kipling, Eastpak, Napapijri, Icebreaker, Smartwool and Altra brands are also featured.

Customers will be guided through the spaces in small groups, ensuring they have time to explore ranges in depth.

The building, owned by Estates & Agency Group, has been renovated by architect Darling Associates. The VF Axtell Soho showcase has been designed by Design Laboratory, with VF investing in a ‘multi-year’ lease. The company considers London to be a key ‘megacity’ location in its expansion across Europe.

Technology has been given high priority at the venue. As well as large digital displays, surround sound, and curved screens integrated into wall corner units, the spaces feature avatar-based virtual mannequins that show key looks in 3D. The avatar units also allow customers to design their own unique specifications for products, allowing retailers to create unique and exclusive product lines.

Design Laboratory has used a user and narrative design-centred approach, to create an augmented, experiential space that sees to inspire, educate and engage retail partners. Some of the fixtures are available to retailers who wish to emulate displays in the centre.

“At VF, elevated design is at the heart of our brands’ strategy and product creation. This, along with our company’s purpose and commitment to sustainability, drives all our business choices,” says VF EMEA group president Martino Scabbia Guerrini.

“Having our experiential brand showcase for retail customers in the centre of one of the top fashion capitals in the world will help our brands to innovatively develop and support our company growth in the years to come, including recruitment of the industry’s best talent.”

VF opened its first retail store on nearby Carnaby Street in 2003, and the UK is now VF’s number one market in the EU, accounting for around 20 per cent of its revenue. It has 57 company-owned stores in the UK.

Axtell Soho provides a total of 1,486 sq m (16,000 sq ft) of space, offering four brand experience floors, office space, a showcase space, a digital innovation and design studio, and a landscaped roof garden.

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