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Exploring physical retail: From pop-ups to multibrand and flagships

By Esmee Blaazer

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Credits: Burberry. New Bond Street flagship store.

There are various types of physical stores, or so-called “brick and mortar” stores. For example, there are multibrand stores, monobrand stores, flagships, to name just a few.

In this article, FashionUnited has created a list of all different types of physical stores, and what makes them special.

You can choose to read the article from beginning to end (see content). Or click on a term from the glossary (glossary AZ) to go directly to it.

Glossary(A-Z)

  • Concept store
  • Flagship store / Flagship
  • Department store
  • Monobrand store / Brandstore
  • Multibrand store
  • Pop-up store / Pop-up
  • Shop-in-shop
  • Multibrand store

    Many brick and mortar stores are multibrand stores. As the name already suggests, these spaces include products from various brands.

    Multibrand stores include boutiques of independent retailers, but also department stores and concept stores (explanation of these stores will follow).

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    Credits: Van Dal men's fashion. An independent retailer in the Netherlands.Image via Van Dal

    Monobrand store / Brandstore

    Unlike a multi-brand store, monobrand stores - also known just as brand stores - one include products from a single brand.

    The brand store is often owned by the respective brand itself, such as Nike, Adidas, Burberry, Fabienne Chapot or Gucci for example. But that is not always the case - sometimes the store is run by a franchisee.

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    Credits: Fabienne Chapot brand store in the Mall of the Netherlands. Property Fabienne Chapot.

    Flagship store / Flagship

    A flagship store, also known just as a flagship, is the standout location for a brand. These are usually the most beautiful and often largest stores and most elaborate stores, for example with labels like Nike, Adidas, Lanvin or Burberry. In these flagships, it is not so much about the products themselves - the locations rather represent the epitome of the brand's identity and ethos.. In other words: it’s about the experience of the store and brand.

    The most beautiful and/or newest store concepts of the brands are usually on display in flagship stores and the architecture, design and art often combined in a purposeful way.

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    Flagship Lanvin in New York (July 2023). Credits: Lanvin
    Flagship Lanvin in New York (July 2023).Credits: Lanvin.

    Shop-in-shop

    A shop-in-shop, as the name would suggest, is literally a smaller store within a laregr one. You can usually find them in department stores such as Bijenkorf, KaDeWe, Samaritaine and Selfridges, where brands such as Dior, Calvin Klein or Boss will have their own dedicated 'corners'.

    And it’s not just the products on display, much like is the above mentioned case with flagships, shop-in-shops often concentrate also on communicating the brand's ethos through a refined in-store experience. It’s also typically staff from the respective brand working inside the brand's shop-in-shop.

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    Shop in Shop by Skims at the London department store Selfridges (July2023). Credits: Skims Corner Shop from Selfridges

    A pop-up store is a temporary store which brands or independent entrepreneurs rent for a short period of time to give their products or services more exposure .

    These stores are often launched around special events or the release of new or limited-edition products. They also act as a way for brands to test how their products resonate in new markets, or for online-only brands to test physical retail in the first place, before committing to long-term rental contracts or major financial obligations.

    A pop-up store can be a multibrand store (of an entrepreneur) or a monobrand store (of a brand).

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    The very first pop-up store of slipper brand Freedom Moses in New York (May 2023). Credits: De pop-up store in New York. Image: Freedom Moses

    Finally, a fashion brand can also open a pop-up store in another store, such as a department store. Then it looks a lot like a shop-in-shop, but where shop-inshops can be of unlimited duration, a pop-up is always temporary.

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    At department store Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées, the Prada pop-up store resembles a boat (July 2023). Credits: Prada
    Louis Vuitton pop-up store in De Bijenkorf Amsterdam department store dedicated to the FW23 collection (July 2023). Credits: Louis Vuitton
    Credits: Dior Pop-Up at Berlin department store KaDeWe (November 2022). Image: KaDeWe

    Concept store

    A concept store is not just about selling fashion. The range often extends across different disciplines such as design and can range from jewelry and perfumes to furniture, interior items, cards, plants and cookbooks. It's like a mini department store in a way.

    What makes these stores unique is that they function as a multibrand store, where the selection of products is carefully curated around a specific theme, lifestyle or concept. A striking feature of many concept stores is their focus on local design, craftsmanship and unique items.

    In concept stores, shopping is sometimes also combined with other activities. For example the business can also contain a café, gallery or workshop space. You will also see that events are being organized or that you can rent space.

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    Concept store Lulli in Toulon, France. The store in Toulon is built around local brands (La Nouvelle and Van Palma), new designers, trendy labels (Dragon Diffusion, Farm Rio) and established luxury brands (Isabel Marant, Jérôme Dreyfuss, Zimmermann, Marni). Credits: Lulli Property
    Concept store Lulli in Toulon, France. The store in Toulon is built around local brands (La Nouvelle and Van Palma), new designers, trendy labels (Dragon Diffusion, Farm Rio) and established luxury brands (Isabel Marant, Jérôme Dreyfuss, Zimmermann, Marni). Credits: Lulli Property

    Department store

    A department store is a large multibrand store. There are often dozens or hundreds of brands available. Men's fashion, women's fashion, children's fashion, lingerie, shoes, cosmetics, interior items, sometimes toys and food are all housed under one roof.

    The fact that multiple product categories are available (or a broad range) is a distinguishing feature. The idea of a department store is that you can find everything in one location, which often sees them even including restaurants and/or cafés.

    Department stores are often specifically designed for certain product categories or brands. There are almost always escalators that connect the different floors.

    Renowned department stores include Harrods and Selfridges in London (United Kingdom), KaDeWe in Berlin (Germany), Le Bon Marché, Galeries Lafayette and Samaritaine in Paris (France). In the Netherlands you have The Bijenkorf, in Belgium Inno and in Spain El Corte Ingles. Some department stores have only one branch, while others have several either in their home country or overseas.

    Parisian department store Samaritaine. Credits: Samaritaine
    Parisian department store Samaritaine. Credits: Samaritaine
    Parisian department store Samaritaine. Credits: Samaritaine

    Sources:
    - FashionUnited.nl article 'Being an independent retailer: this is what it takes to run a fashion store', January 2023
    - Parts of this article text were generated with an artificial intelligence (AI) tool and then edited.

    Refurbished global flagship store on New Bond Street (June 2023). Credits: Burberry
    Refurbished global flagship store on New Bond Street (June 2023). Credits: Burberry
    Refurbished global flagship store on New Bond Street (June 2023). Credits: Burberry
    Also read:
    background
    Brick and Mortar
    CONCEPT STORE
    Department Store
    Fashion Education
    multibrandstores
    physical stores
    Pop-up
    Retail