Concept Store Colette and the Evolution of Consumerism

Concept Store Colette and the Evolution of Consumerism

This week renowned concept store and fashion institution Colette announced its closure. A haven for emerging designers, being stocked in Colette was an important vote of confidence which could solidify a brand’s reputation and subsequently lead to more orders from other stores. It was a rite of passage of sorts and for some brands such as Off White and Mary Katrantzou, it was their first stockist and big checkmark in the box: doing something right.

While the official statement from the company was “Colette Roussaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time; and Colette cannot exist without Colette.” I have to wonder how much of their decision was influenced by the changing retail landscape. With the mass adoption of online shopping and social media emphasising how limited our time is, the spate of closures of retail chain locations came as no surprise. Consumers are now more than ever attracted to specialist items with a strong brand story; expensive fast fashion just doesn’t cut it.

This leads us to the most surprising thing about the Colette closure. It was a concept store. Ostensibly more attuned to their specific sect of consumers, these stores offer curated selections from carefully chosen brands. An example of such specificity is Moda Operandi. Though they now offer seasonal shopping much like other online luxury retailers, the online store started out by offering direct access to items that would in the past be relegated to runway shows and editorials as ‘show pieces’, never to see the light of day on a store rail. So what does it mean when a niche store cannot (or chooses not to in Colette’s case) withstand the evolution of the consumer experience?

Perhaps it means that as communication and engagement get more technologically advanced consumers no longer have the patience to have to log into a store, online or otherwise to purchase an item. As consumerism becomes more a part of daily life individuals want no barriers in their shopping experience, no reminder that they are spending money on sometimes unnecessary items.

Glossier is one brand taking advantage of this and broadening the spectrum of online shopping. Innovative since inception, by making their Instagram account shoppable (or even Instagram testing this initiative on their account) they have removed even more steps in the shopping process, extending the ‘three clicks’ accessibility rule across platforms. The implication here for the shopping experience is that brands will need even stronger, continuous visual content to entice customers: a lookbook is no longer enough. This puts the onus for attracting consumers on brands and limits the reach of multi-brand online stores without a strong core concept. Retailers will be hard-pressed to create a lifestyle on Instagram when they stock thousands of brands at different price points with different aesthetics.

However, it could also mean that as ‘being creative’ becomes more valued and laudable in society consumers want to be the buyers, the designers – through customisation – and ultimately, the curators.


Written by Weruzochi Chinasa 

Fashion Editor

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