What’s less than a department store, more than a boutique, and currently reinvigorating the retail landscape worldwide?
The likes of multi-brand concept stores such as The Shelter, which opened in Ponsonby, Auckland, in 2014.
Whether you’re in the market for a $5 tea-towel, a $1500 handbag, or a flat white from Eat – the in-store café – The Shelter has something for everyone. “It’s more than just a retail space,” says owner and creative director, Vicki Taylor, who founded local fashion label, Taylor, in 1999. “It’s where the world’s best designers incubate and bring to life their creative ideas.”
Vicki says opening four Taylor boutiques over the course of 15 years gave her the confidence and buying experience to try “this new style of retailing”. With its offering of local and international brands, buying for The Shelter is a new ball game, but one she approaches with the Taylor philosophy in mind.
“A Taylor woman doesn’t use clothes as a tool to stand out, she naturally has a certain, refined attitude,” says Vicki. “The Shelter builds on this feeling, challenging and inspiring its customers with edgier shapes and pieces that flow across their everyday lives.”
Vicki sources most of The Shelter’s pieces from Paris. “It’s where the world comes to shop,” she says, noting the sense of style that permeates the city during Paris Fashion Week. Vicki also sources from Milan Fashion Week, which she says is smaller and more relaxed than Paris, “but in typical Italian style things are, in their own way, chaotic”.
According to Vicki, New Zealand shoppers are “amazingly creative and less conservative” than shoppers overseas, and this influences what she buys and how product is merchandised. Brands aren’t signposted because she wants customers to gravitate organically towards the pieces and objects they like. “You should fall in love with something before you know what brand it is.”
Also integral to The Shelter’s ethos is its emphasis on socially and environmentally conscious products.
Vicki is loath to contribute to the “appalling statistics” that pervade the fashion industry. “We always insist on buying from brands who monitor their production chains with great care,” she says.
When it comes to the needs of her customers, this same lack of complacency applies. “Recently in Paris, I was introduced to a group of delegates as the owner of ‘the most beautiful concept store in the world’. But flattering as that is, I know the space must keep changing and developing. We are continually searching for the next thing that will excite our audience.”