Ecommerce platform Ssense is translating its digital shopping experience into a bricks-and-mortar flagship, becoming the latest luxury pure-play e-tailer to embrace a physical environment.
Located in Montréal, Ssense’s outpost is intended to be a concrete complement to its ecommerce platform, complete with tech-infused customer services and editorial activations. While online retail is growing at a faster pace than the overall luxury market, upscale ecommerce platforms are finding a demand and opportunity for more traditional retail interactions.
ssMontréal-based Ssense was founded in 2003. The retailer stocks merchandise from high-fashion labels such as Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Dior and Saint Laurent.
The 13,000-square-foot store at 418 rue Saint Sulpice is situated in a historic building from the 1800s. David Chipperfield Architects designed a concrete building within a building for Ssense that retains the architecture’s original façade while offering a modern look.
This structure also enables flexibility within the flagship. The concrete includes a grid with a hidden convertible socket system, allowing for adjustable placement of mechanical and technical features.
Reflecting the digital shopping experience on Ssense’s Web site, the store features tech-infused services. The retailer’s technology team built a platform and stylist application where consumers can book appointments for in-person consultations.
About 20,000 products are available for shoppers to request online and try on in-store within 24 hours. Eight fitting rooms are dedicated entirely to personal styling sessions.
To keep track of appointments, Ssense’s team will use a vertical lift module. This technology is typically leveraged to manage warehouses.
Adding to the experiential retail approach, Ssense’s flagship includes a café. With seating for 34, the eatery offers dining under a fully glass ceiling.
Along with shopping services, the flagship is bringing Ssense’s online experience offline through content. The retailer will be hosting site-specific installations from Moncler, designer Virgil Abloh and LVMH Prize-winnning label Wales Bonner, among others.
Ssense’s first project, “Arca/Tormenta,” will be presented in partnership with Prada. Electronic musician Arca performed live at the store on April 26, and the resulting aftermath of the event is left as an installation that was creative directed by the artist and Carlos Sáez.
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