A New Breed of Fast Fashion Experience in Asia 
Richard Chang in Retail, Retail trends, fashion

Image: Blackstation.

From H&M to Zara, the fast fashion sector has enjoyed rapid growth over the past few years, largely driven by consumer demand for affordable, on-trend clothing. In a world where the retail experience is as important as the product, consumers are craving a more elevated, curated shopping environment, with brands seeking to remain relevant and engage in new ways.

One fast fashion retailer is offering such an “experience centric” approach. Gensler collaborated with 8Seconds (a brand under Samsung C&T fashion) to develop a prototype for 8Seconds’ new store that aims to be the destination for everything related to Korean fast fashion. Recently, 8Seconds celebrated the opening of its new locations in Shanghai and Seoul. The Shanghai flagship marked the brand’s first step outside Korea, while the redesigned Seoul store expands 8Seconds’ local presence. The new stores are more than a place to shop: they offer an immersive lifestyle experience.

Co-Brands: It’s more than just apparel, it’s a lifestyle

At 8Seconds Shanghai, in addition to the brand’s apparel offerings, shoppers can enjoy Korean-style “Co-Brands,” including cosmetic stations, accessory kiosks, cartoon merchandise kiosks, nail salons and even an ice cream parlor. 8Seconds Shanghai invites Chinese customers to experience a Korean aesthetic and way of life.

Celebrity curated items, it’s selfie time!

Yup, it sells! As much as younger generations want to express their own fashion attitude, often it’s more convincing coming from an admired figure. Korean fashion icon G-Dragon, 8Seconds’ official brand ambassador, was directly involved in the design process for the range of clothing and accessories. These zones and hero items also serve as best selfie backdrops. Nothing beats having your audience promote your brand across platforms.

A staged area adjacent to the celebrity curated merchandise, a popular selfie zone. Image: Blackstation.

Cross-over pop-up zone: a rotating store experience

Fast fashion operators constantly trying new methods to promote returning traffic, especially from Millennials and Gen Z, two generations who subscribe to an ever-changing retail experience. How can operators create that evolving experience in a brick-and-mortar location? A pop-up zone within the store. At 8Seconds’ Shanghai store, a strategically placed Korean cartoon-figure pop-up adjacent to the check-out counter creates a rotated queuing experience to drive repeat traffic.

A Toy Republic pop-up store at 8Seconds Shanghai. Image: Blackstation.

A smarter online platform

Having your own brand website used to be essential, but as social platforms have become more dominant in consumers’ behavior and daily life, retail operators are also evolving to take advantage of social media’s reach, or simply to stay relevant. For example, 8Seconds Shanghai is taking advantage of popular platforms in China like Tmall and WeChat as more effective ways to contribute sales and push through various brand messages. Riding on a vast user base and the fact that people in China simply spend most of their mobile time on these two platforms, operators are finding a more (cost-)effective way to get the brand message across and generate revenue.

Even faster check-out

The convenience of mobile payment has penetrated the Chinese market, especially among younger generations. Therefore, any way to get the consumer out of the check-out line is always preferred. Two of the more effective and popular mobile payment platforms in China are WeChat Pay and Alipay, both of which were implemented in 8Seconds’ Shanghai store to facilitate a faster, more convenient check-out experience.

Visual merchandising matters: show me how!

Young generations often subscribe to advice from peers and experts. This is even more important when it comes to the fast fashion sector, where consumers will appreciate effective, direct and self-guided recommendations throughout the journey. Rather than showing the same style repetitively, which implies abundance, having an array of different styling combinations, via life-size mannequins and face-out displays, promotes impulsive in-store purchases.

Shoppers are greeted by giant photographs and images of Seoul’s streetscape that line the interior walls, reinforcing the brand’s identity. Simple, bold signage coupled with whimsical graphics throughout the store complete the immersive shopping experience. Image: Blackstation.

Gensler and 8Seconds’ innovative design collaboration resulted in a compelling destination that elevates the brand and helps it compete in the global marketplace, while allowing consumers to immerse themselves in the Korean lifestyle.

Richard Chang is the Asia regional leader of Gensler’s retail practice and a senior associate in the firm’s Shanghai office. With over 13 years of experience, Richard has worked with numerous retail brands on their global rollout and implementation strategies, and is passionate about what retailers can do to localize their brand for global consumers’ varying cultures and tastes. Contact him at richard_chang@gensler.com
Article originally appeared on architecture and design (http://www.gensleron.com/).
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