Designer Spotlight: Get With The X(IAN)

Social media might have you believe that the best part about of working in fashion is dressing up and attending events. For us, it’s being apart someone’s journey. We have had the pleasure of working  with Montreal-based designer Xian Wang for several seasons and we are so proud of all of his accomplishments.

We caught up with Xian to learn more about his ss18 collection, what keeps him motivated, and what we can expect from his fashion-forward menswear label.

Photographer: Che Rosales

What was the inspiration behind the ss18 collection?

As XIAN’s goal was to achieve a comfortable ready to wear collection, which is simplistic for the modern man just to pick up and go with other elements in his closet, suitable for our urban city lifestyle. Behind this SS18 Collection [RUSH], my own life is always in flux and states, “with our current environment lives busier, and with such a fast pace, we have to relate our clothes to real life.

When I made this collection, I related this collection to my personal life. I needed my clothes to be functional and keep up with me with coordinating pieces that can work together or separately with other items you own, so there is always functionality in the garments.”

Can you take us through your design process?

I normally start with sketching the silhouettes, just being myself and feeling the mood. One thing I find interesting is that my subconsciousness always plays a big role in my initial designing stage, because so many things happen during each season and I like to see how they transform into clothing. Then from there, I cross check with the current trend to add or eliminate some ideas for the target market, and make sure that they are appealing to my ideal costumers and still have the XIAN’s look.

At this stage, I would finalize a few key items for the collection and come back to make more modifications to create a strong concept and cohesion.

Who is the Xian customer?

XIAN’s customers are the guys and/or girls who have passion for fashion in a metropolitan environment, but at the same time they know well what they are looking for to express their own identity. They want to wear something subtle but luxurious, and dress effortlessly stylish. They are wild at heart, even though some are not working in the creative industries.

XIAN’s products have the characteristics to offer the costumers a day-to-night transition.’”A banker takes off his/her suits and put on XIAN to rock & roll at the underground punk party in Berlin.”

How do you like unwind after each collection and runway show?

Nothing special to be honest. Just take everything as easy as possible, catch up some sleep, watch videos on youtube, play my favourite radio station, and most importantly, enjoy tons delicious food with my loved team and friends.

Fill in the Blank: I cannot live without___________

XIAN (my line, not myself lol)

Photographer: Gabriel Di Sante

As a young Canadian designer, how does it feel to get recognized by international publications like GQ?

It felt like a dream comes true. I always buy British GQ and check that they have in every issue, and finally I see my designs are featured, printed and sold world-wild in 3 monthly issues. I never imaged it, but hey here they are. It also motivates me so much to create more and delivery better and better products in the future. Pressure is on, and I am ready to take it.

Fashion is a tough business, What keeps you motivated?

One is the passion. I remember reading this article, basically it says nothing big comes easy, and we will suffer. If that’s something we love doing truly, we can’t and won’t stop at the suffering stage. To a point we get use to it and it becomes a daily routine. Despite the complains we need to vent once awhile, we will still come back and continue doing the same thing. I love what I am doing, to a point even in my personal life, 90% of the things I do serves a purpose for the brand. I think I am possessed by what I created.

Another one is the people, as the team is growing, more people are putting more effort and time into the brand. I also feel the responsibilities to my team, family, friends, supporters, and fans. They are hoping more from the brand and always here to support. They are happy for me for what XIAN has become, but I know there’s still a big distance to what I wanted it to be. As long as I am capable of designing, I won’t stop no matter how tough it is.

What can we expect for Xian in 2018?

We are planning to get into more retail relocations with more available styles for the current seasons, and to be ready for getting into the bigger market, as well as some extremely exciting collaborations already at the finalizing stage. There are also some potential celebrities wearing XIAN on stage, and so much more. 2018 will be a another great year!

A Conversation with Designer Natalie Dusome


Designer, entrepreneur, mother: Natalie Dusome is a woman that wears a lot of stylish hats. Her accessories brand Poppy & Peonies was launched in 2016 and her fashionable and functional handbags have garnered her a huge following and well-deserved brand recognition since.

I had the opportunity to speak with Dusome one evening in Toronto, where she appeared in a whirlwind of warmth and positive energy. I asked her about starting a business, growing up in a small town, and why finding your old designs from school is actually a good thing.

Natasha Grodzinski: When did you first discover a passion for designing?

Natalie Dusome: Honestly, I’ve always loved fashion, since I was a little girl. I come from Penetanguishine, which is this tiny town, there’s 700 people. I was always so different than everyone else. The other kids int the town weren’t into fashion at all, and I can remember begging my mom at seriously, eight years old, to buy fashion magazines! What kid does that? It was just this fantasy world. I would open up the magazines and it would take me somewhere else. Of course, I love where I’m from and I’m so grateful for where I’m from because it has kept me very grounded and humble, and I had a great upbringing. One of my grandmothers loved to sew, the other one loved to draw and my dad is a carpenter. With all of these different influences my life, I was led to fashion design.

NG: That’s a very creative environment to grow up in, and it’s you putting your own love into it.

ND: My grandmother would always be making us clothes for our Barbies and I would sit there and cut the fabric with her. I didn’t realize at the time, you know I was four years old, what an impact that would have on me. Even my dad, he would design all of these things: furniture, kitchenware, he even made his own barbecue. He would come up with his own idea and then go into the garage and would bring it to life. I think that being in that environment groomed me for what I want to do.

NG: It’s really nice to hear about a creative home like that where you feel like you’re able to grow and express yourself.

ND: Yes! And what was really awesome is my mom works at a hospital and my father’s a carpenter so they did not know any kids who were into fashion, but they didn’t care. They said, “If this is what you want and this is your dream, we’re going to fully support you.” I find that’s rare.

NG: I know you went to Ryerson for fashion design and then went the corporate route. What was that transition like, to go from small town to big city?

ND: I took a minor in marketing when I was in school. I was always interested in the business side of fashion. I was always fascinated by it. We had students in our class who were so creative that they never wanted to make anything that someone could actually wear. I was interested in something wearable but with an edge. For me, working for companies like Abercrombie or Fossil was so cool because I was able to see, okay, this is what people actually like to wear. This is what people are buying. In fashion design, you can make such crazy, out-there designs, but at the end of the day people want simple with a twist. They want wearable or functional but with a little something different. The experience I had in that commercial world really helped me towards what I do today.

NG: It seems like a perfect marriage of interests to start your own business: the creative side with the marketing side.

ND:  Yes, because our bags are trendy and affordable but they also have the functionality. That’s something different we have for the product.

NG: I actually wanted to ask about this: as a businesswoman and a mom, I imagine function came into your brain when you were conceptualizing the brand.

ND: That’s really where it came from. Before, I was living in New York and it was always fashion first for me. I was a huge fashionista. I would run around New York in heels until I had blisters!

NG: I know about that!

ND: And you do it. You’re like, “I don’t care, this is fashion and I look good.” When you become a mom, it’s like, oh God, I can’t be running around with heels and this baby. You need to still find ways to express yourself and your fashion, but do it in a wearable way that has functionality for your new life. That’s really where it came from; I became a monad realized my old style wasn’t working with this new part in my life. Looking around I realized a lot of people were just like me and needed the same things.

NG: It’s akin to how I was a little happy when sneakers became cool again. I’m gonna save my arches.

ND: Yes, exactly! And the thing is when you’re out of school and getting into your career it’s the most important thing. But you realize there are ways to look good and still have function and comfort.

NG: When you did decide to start your own brand, was the accessories the first place you went to? Or did you play around with other ideas?

ND: I’ve always done handbag design. It’s a bit funny, I created this line of handbags when I was 16 years old. I approached a local boutique to carry my bags and they must have felt sorry for me because they did carry them. They were these wire, beaded bags and I look back and just howl because they were so funny. When I did my collection at Ryerson, it was very denim, wearable, which got me my job at Abercrombie but I also designed these handbags, which were pretty nice considering I was young and in school. I’ve just always been passionate about handbags and accessories.

NG: Do you ever pull out one of those ones from school?

ND: Oh my god, I howl! You know how mom’s always store your stuff from school? My mum said to me, “Nat, I need to clean out some of this stuff, please help me.” And we were rolling on the floor laughing about the stuff I had made at Ryerson. My dad was always so supportive and I had these metal plates he engraved ‘Dusome,’ my last name on so I could make little labels. We had this little press so I could make the labels. It was so funny.

NG: I used to write creatively a lot in high school and some I read back, I think, ehhhhhhh.

ND: Exactly, but it’s cool to see how far I’ve come. I found some old handbag sketches from school and think, wow. It’s the progression.

NG: When you made that decision, was it terrifying?

ND: It was terrifying. At the time I had been working for Aldo for five years. I was their head designer. I was travelling to London, Paris, China, Italy, it was a dream. From the time I was little girl, I would see these editors, designers and socialites, these high-powered women and I would dream about being one of them. I worked so hard and became one of those designers at a reputable, amazing company. Not only did I reach my dream, but I loved my boss and the work I did. So, to leave my dream job to start my own company scared the shit out of me. It really did. But I knew in the long run, for the sake of my family and for me always wanting to start my own company, it was now or never.

NG: You have always wanted to start your own business then?

ND: Yes, and it’s funny, back home a lot of us are parents now so we had this high school party where we got sitters and acted like we were in high school. I found my old yearbook picture and it asked, what are you goals and whatnot. Under “What’s your goal?” it read, “To build a million-dollar global brand.” And that was in Grade 9. Laughs. But I did it! I mean, we’re not quite at that level but we’re well on our way.

NG: The brand really is blowing up right now.

ND: It’s been amazing. We’ve had so much support. It’s unbelievable. The influencers, the press and everything we’ve had has been unreal.

NG: When you see one of your bags in the street…

ND: I love it. People must think I’m nuts because I’m staring at them. Even in our town, a small community, everyone is so supportive. I’ll be having a crummy day, I’ll go to the grocery store and see five women wearing my bag and I think, how can I have a bad day?

NG: That must feel so good.

ND: It’s really cool. Not all of the customers who buy bags will recognize me, of course, so once someone was in front of me in the coffee line and I said, “Oh, I really love your bag.” She said, “It’s Poppy and Peonies, it’s a local brand,” and I don’t want to embarrass them so I play it off. Sometimes I say it and sometimes I don’t.

NG: It’s that validation for all the hard work.

ND: It’s so rewarding, especially at places you don’t expect it. I’ll be at Pearson or in other cities and I’ll see it. It’s so nice to make a product that people like and excites them.

NG: For any other young designers thinking about starting their brand, do you have any advice for them?

ND: I think loving what you do and being passionate are the most important things. Sometimes things get so tough that you want to give up and the passion is all that keeps you going. If you don’t have that, it would be easy to let something go. It takes determination, perseverance and a positive attitude to get you through those difficult times. You need to love it so much that you would do it for free, you would stay up until four a.m. doing it, you would do it on vacation. Trust me, there are days where it gets so tough. If you really love it, you’ll succeed at it.

Interview has been condensed for print.

You can visit the Poppy & Peonies website here and follow their Instagram here.

Robin Fitzsimon at Etsy: Made in Canada 2017

Robin Fitzsimon, the founder of Fitzy, a brand dedicated to modern leather goods, opened her business by simply creating a new item every day for a year. The 365 project first turned into an Etsy shop, then it became Fitzsimon’s full-time job. Sharing a studio in Toronto with paper artist Ali Harrison, Fitzsimon makes modern leather backpacks, bow ties, cord keepers, and more. Her new green and gray leather items will appear in Etsy: Made in Canada show at the MaRS building on September 23.

Robin Fitzsimon

Sveta: Robin, your 365 project sounds really inspiring. Tell me how it helped you to start your business.

Robin:  It was kind of crazy, but also really good. I made something every day for a year, and I posted it online by midnight. I did drawing, painting, sculpture… I started doing jewellery and working with leather. And then I started doing leather jewellery. Because I was posting every day, I had friends and family following. So they knew if I didn’t get it done on time.

I had a lot of people saying, Oh, your stuff is really great! You should start selling it. I never thought that I would own my business. I haven’t been to a business class or something like that. But with Etsy, it’s so easy to start your own shop, and I was like, Why not? I opened my Etsy shop in 2013. And then I sell my pieces online, I sell to stores mostly in North America but some overseas as well. It just kind of snowballed, and then it became a full-time.

S: Were you still at school at that time?

R: No, I had finished school. I went to OCAD, and I have a BFA in Sculpture and Installation. I was looking for a way that’ll bring some spontaneity back to my art work ‘cause when you are making art for school, it always has to be very well thought out. It takes a long time. So I missed doing stuff like quickly and not overthinking things. That is what the 365 project was for me. I only had until midnight and couldn’t overthink – I just had to get it done and not worry about it too much. And sometimes I made the stuff that was not really great, but sometimes it was really great.

S: What is the hardest and what is the best thing in running your own brand?

R:  The hardest part is just making sure you have enough money to pay your bills and buy materials. You make more money in different times of the year. You have to account for that. That’s may be the one thing that you don’t love. The best thing is…I don’t even know. I love being in charge and making my own schedule. It’s just me, so I can decide how I wanna do it. Being able to work with your hands every day and make your own things is really amazing. It’s really cool to be like, I made that from start to finish. It’s a real sense of pride in doing that. It’s also really fun to be surrounded by creative people.

S: What was the first item you sold and how did you feel about it?

R: The first piece I sold was a green leather bracelet. It was in that moment when my business finally felt real.

S: Do you always make your pieces by yourself?

R: I make everything myself in the studio except for the screen printed pieces. I have a printer that does the screen printing for me.

S: Where do you get your materials from?

R: Lots of different places. All our hardware is a manufacture of the States, and all of our leather is from local suppliers.

S: What is the main element of your style?

R: I always try to use really nice hardware, and especially in my purses I like to use copper rivets, so they add an interesting colour to the piece that you don’t see everywhere.

S: And what makes the rest of your pieces unique?

R: I think it’s the aesthetic. I try to go for something very clean and minimal. Everything is there for a reason. I don’t want any extra pips and bows and things like that. A lot of my pieces are stuff that you’ve never seen before.

S: Do you organize your pieces in collections?

R: I’m just trying to design items that people will really love and that will last for a really long time. So I try to do less but better. I don’t want to come up with a new piece all the time – I want to make sure that everything I’m making is done very specifically. Like I’m trying design a bag in a way that makes sense for what the bag needs to be.

Though, I’m starting to do kind of seasonal colours. The dark green leather and the grey leather are both brand new for fall [points at freshly-made backpack and bag hanging on the wall of her studio]. And for the first time you’ll be able to get them at the show. It’s been fun to work with the colour rather than do just black and brown, which are nice classic leather colours, but people seem to really like the colour.

S: How would your describe your customers?

R: Usually, urban women 25 to 35 who really appreciate handmade. Generally, creative types looking for something cool but also want to spend their money on something they really need.

S: I know you’ve participated in One of a Kind and Makeology craft shows. Is it your first time at Etsy: Made in Canada?

R: I always do Etsy: Made in Canada show. It’s so good. I wasn’t actually there last year, but I had my sister running the booth, and it went very well.

S: What do you like most about shows like that?

R: It’s only one day, and all the customers are so good. Everyone is really excited ‘cause everybody likes that scene. It’s like our perfect target market. It’s kind of going to a summer camp. You get to see all of your maker-friends. You only see each other at the shows because everyone is working. Usually craft shows that’s when the community comes together.

S: Are there any designers/makers who inspire you?

R: I wouldn’t say I have one favourite designer. It’s always nice to look to other makers to get an advice and inspiration. Like Arounna Khounnoraj from bookhou. She’s been my mentor. She’s so generous with her help. She came up to me during One of a Kind show. She’s very successful in a Toronto scene, and she gave me all that amazing advices.

S: How did you used those advices?

R: I used to hand sew before I made bags, when I just made little accessories. And she was just like, Why don’t you have a leather sewing machine? You could make stuff so much bigger because hand sewing takes so long. And then I did, and it was a game changer. It was so much better, I started making bags. It’s great to be able to make stuff so much faster than before.

S: What else besides new leather colours should the attendants expect from you?

R: We’ll also have the brand new large backpacks and Toronto T-shirts. It’s like a spin on the ways people say “Toronto”. So you know, if you are from Toronto, you don’t say the second “T”.

S: Any special plans for the near future?

R: I’m trying to do more teaching. I teach leather workshops too. I’ll be doing one at the show. I have an online workshop through Skillshare. I want to do it more often.

S: What is your favourite Fitzy item right now?

R: It’s a mini backpack, the little kind of triangle one. That is new from spring. I try to ride my bike as much as I can in the summer, but regular purses don’t work very well when you riding your bike, so I wanted a cute little backpack that worked well as a purse, but that was hands-free. Right now it’s my favourite, but it will probably change in a few months.

Etsy: Made in Canada is happening on September 23rd at MaRS Discovery District. Continue following our fashion and lifestyle coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

5 Designer Instagrams you should be following!

Since the birth of social media, designers have been looking to online communications as one of their most important tools in their arsenal for reaching a desired audience and clientele in real time. Unlike traditional runway and print formats, social media allows fans of the designer and brand to see collections, personal photos, and designer inspirations as they move through their day to day lives, creating the feeling of a more personal experience for the viewer. However, sometimes brands can, unfortunately, fall into the bad habit of using their social media accounts as a static means of showcasing their products and nothing else, taking away from the intimacy and personal connection that apps like Instagram can offer their fans. Luckily, we’ve found 5 designers whose Instagrams go way beyond the realm of merely showcasing their collection and give a glimpse into their lives for all of their fans and followers to admire and partake in. Here are the 5 designer Instagram accounts you need to be following!


Photo: @jacquemus

If there’s one thing designer Simon Porte Jacquemus does best, is finding beauty in the everyday. With his signature triple posts, this French designer has found the perfect formula for keeping his Instagram account looking sharp, interesting, and personal. Rather than just showcasing images of his collections or celebrities who’ve worn his creations. Jacquemus instead posts triple images all relating to the same thing to achieve one of the most visually appealing Instagram accounts out there. These triptychs range anywhere from posts thanking magazines for using his work in their editorials, branded content, thanking celebrities for wearing his creations, editorial work, collection previews, and best of all, personal images from the designer’s everyday life. Which perfectly showcase the joie de vivre that the south of France (his home and muse) is so well known for.

Christopher Shannon

Photo: @christopher_shannon

Oh, honey! The shade, the shade of it all! Not many designers working in the world’s great fashion capitals are brave enough to call it like it is out of fear of creating negative press. But not Christopher Shannon. The menswear designer’s Instagram account is on one hand, beautiful to look at, chock full of bright images that showcase his creations. But on the other hand, Shannon’s Instagram account has an indiscreet sprinkling of posts where he posts little comments on the fashion industry. Most are up for interpretation because they tastefully comment on current situations without naming names, while some others speak directly about some of the shady and underhanded moments in fashion that we’re all thinking about, yet too scared to talk about. This makes Christopher Shannon’s Instagram the perfect little sip of industry tea that we’ve all been waiting for.

Jonathan Anderson

Photo: @jonathan.anderson

Loaded to the brim with personal influences and inspiration, fashion’s beloved Brit designer, Jonathan Anderson has managed to put together one of the most genuine and pretty to look at social media accounts on the internet to date. Boasting a plethora of soft black and white nude images, vintage photography, art, and work from his J.W Anderson and Loewe collections, Jonathan creates a sensual atmosphere that pulses with raw sexuality, art, and brand content that really is a pleasure to behold. Unfortunately, Mr Anderson rarely posts pictures of himself, but that’s all the more reason to follow his stunning account. You never know when a surprise selfie might pop and sweep you clean off of your feet.

Gareth Pugh

Photo: @garethpughstudio

Gareth Pugh is one of those designers that the fashion industry has sadly typecast. Since his designs are all relatively avant-garde and futuristic and push the limit on what the rest of the fashion industry considers fashion, Pugh has been labelled a “gothic” designer, which is all well and good. But here’s the interesting part. What Pugh presents on the runway is only a facet of who he is as a designer and as a person. A quick look at his Instagram page shows that the dark and serious side of him that’s seen on the London runway is merely one part of who he is as a person. Countless posts about everyday happy moments, life in London, and political protests paint a multifaceted picture of the brilliant designer. Recently, Pugh sent a collection down the runway during London Fashion week which accurately portrayed the current US government as a hellish fascist regime, creating conversation over whether or not designers should take the chance and protest current political climates around the world. But Pugh made it clear, his collection wasn’t merely a stunt to grab attention during fashion week. His feelings toward the US government extended to his personal life and countless of his posts on his Instagram are there to show it.

Mary Kate & Ashley Olson / The Row

Photo: @therow

Twin sisters Mary-Kate & Ashley Olson have had lives completely dominated by the media since their early childhoods and we would imagine that they’ve done everything they humanly can to break free from the image their childhood work has cast on them. Fast forward a decade later and the Olson sisters are now the driving force behind one of New York’s most innovative and well-respected fashion powerhouses. The Row represents artistic simplicity and raw power, all tied neatly into one beautifully designed package. And it’s safe to say that they’re Instagram page is one of the most beautifully curated profiles on the internet. With not a selfie in sight, the Olsons perfectly translate their quiet and put together private lives as designers into the digital world. With a mix of their work sprinkled about countless pieces of artwork and day to day inspiration, The Row’s Instagram page looks as if it could be printed out and hung in the MoMA itself.

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International design visionaries Diego Burdi and Paul Filek of design studio BURDIFILEK have been at the centre of luxury retail, with nearly 25 years of experience transforming retail spaces such as Holt Renfrew to a series of Neiman Marcus stores across the US. These design partners have won over 150 internationally recognized awards for creating shopping experiences all over the world from New York to Korea. 

It is true that social media and online shopping have changed the way retail works, but we asked Burdi and Filek about how retail space design has evolved in the last two decades and their take on what designers need to consider when creating retail spaces. 

Helen: How did Burdifilek get started?

Diego: We met as design students. We stayed in touch after graduation and eventually started Burdifilek.

Describe your personal design aesthetic.

D: Classic modern with an unexpected, almost eccentric twist.

Paul: Minimal, modern, pared back.

Can you break down your design process?

D: Our design process starts with understanding the real problem at hand and identifying the opportunities within the project from a global point of view.
P: Our studio designs holistically as a team, which means the designers aren’t broken into specialized groups by sector. We find clients benefit most from the shared learnings across our studio.

How do you balance personal aesthetic with clients?

D: We design spaces to reflect the quality, sensibility, and performance of a brand and its product. Since no two brands are the same, I strongly believe a good designer appreciates every form of design and understands how to bring the appropriate design language to their clients. Our clientele is drawn to this design approach and sensibility in our work, so while my personal visual aesthetic does not extend into my client’s point of view, the principles of careful consideration and editing that underscores my personal aesthetic does resonate throughout the work.

P: I agree – the principles of consideration are shared across my aesthetic, Diego’s aesthetic, and client’s aesthetic. It takes on a different visual expression for each client, but the level of consideration remains constant.

How have retail spaces evolved in the last 2 decades?

D: Retail spaces have evolved because the retail industry itself has evolved. Retailers have become more focused on what they are trying to offer the consumer, creating a more multi-faceted experience from a lifestyle point of view to celebrate their product. We are also more design aware as a society, and since consumers have so many options available to them now, there is a growing appreciation for the physical retail experience as a platform to attract consumers. A confident brand experience is becoming more and more important for the end user.

P: First and foremost, retailers are evolving because they are faced with more competition now than ever before. International competition is a big challenge for local and national brands. The successful retailers have become much more focused on targeting who their client is and they are becoming much clearer on what separates their brand identity and offering from all others. Retailers are all looking for that point of differentiation.

Is there a specific vibe people gravitate to now? Are people more likely to walk into a store that’s Instagram-friendly?

D: People gravitate toward authenticity and originality. We all seek things that speak to us.

P: I don’t think there is a specific vibe, but brands are recognizing the power of mood and atmosphere and embracing a unique point of view that is curated toward a specific customer. Shopping is a necessity, but the physical environment is also part entertainment so we are seeing more cues from the hospitality world intermingling with retail. Ideas around “interactive” and “experiential” come from hospitality.

How do you design a space that caters to a social-driven lifestyle?

Shopping is socially-driven and retail is entertainment. We don’t design spaces specifically to cater to a social-driven lifestyle because life is about being social. We design for life.

Explain society’s need for instantaneity through the lens of design visionaries such as yourselves? Is this aspect difficult to infuse into your design?

Everyone is hungry for newness because there is so much happening at once. As a designer, we are constantly looking for ways to recreate the newness. Our society is bombarded with everyone shouting at 120 decibels. We are looking for new ways to cut through the noise and distill the design in a focused way that leaves a point of memory amidst the noise.

What makes someone walk into a store they don’t necessarily already know about?

P: When the confidence of a brand and product is appealing, then someone will be motivated to walk into the store. There is a curiosity in finding something new that resonates in terms of product quality and experience.

D: When the retailer’s program, offering, and point of view is strong from the lease line. A clear and focused message about their value and brand experience. When the product and environment are cohesive, one frames the other and the offering is focused for the consumer.

According to your expertise, what are some design strategies that retailers can employ to generate more sales?

A more focused program. Trying to be everything to everyone, and this just does not work anymore. In the times we live in now, where everything is available to consumers, a clear and confident point of view is what will make a brand successful.

Mark Lash

What are some common mistakes retailers make when designing their space?

Brands often seek a trendy visual language to sell cool. Piggybacking off the success of another brand’s design is a mistake because consumers are looking for the uniqueness in each retailer. “Monkey see, monkey do” does not work.

Most important physical elements to consider when looking to change a retail space?

D: Do not underestimate the importance of materiality and lighting in retail.

P: I think the most important physical element is to maximize the opportunity of the actual space itself. From the site selection, shop entry, or customer flow through the environment, every new location requires the brand experience to be optimized for each new space. Forcing a pre-set design into a new location removes all consideration for the brand experience.

What do you want people to know about designing a retail space in the current market?
A retail space is a continuation of the brand story, and there must be a strong connection back to that. Look for the differentiating brand factors that will set you apart. A space is a continuation of the story – like another chapter in the storyline – so it needs to be cohesive.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Retail is becoming more complex, and brands are hiring various consultants to help navigate the landscape. As a result, there are many new considerations and concerns in the front and back of house that accompany the launch of a shop beyond design. A strong retail program acts as the backbone for design and creates a canvas for the best possible experience. The whole experience must be well prepared and well thought out. The most successful brands do not show up in the mall with stock and leaving the experience up to chance. Every touch point is carefully crafted and considered.

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