Teenage girls need little arm-twisting to go shopping for a great pair of jeans. And with more designer boutiques catering to young women these days, their options for jeanswear are nearly endless.
Levi's has made its mark in the world of jeans for both men and women. In the past, the retailer tended to have unisex stores with a predominantly masculine feel. Recognizing that girls needed a shopping experience that caters to their needs, Levi Strauss Europe, the Brussels-based division of Levi Strauss, approached Checkland Kindleysides (Leicester, U.K.) to create a standalone Levi's for Girls store on Rue Pierre Lescot in Paris. This retail concept targets the young and style-conscious female market.
"Teenage girls are fickle, always wanting something special and different," says Henry Barnes, account director, Checkland Kindleysides. "We observed two girls to see how they socialize throughout the day, how they dress, the music they listen to and how they navigate a store to further understand their lifestyle. Following our target market and understanding what they're about gave a fresh approach to design."
The exterior of the 360-square-foot space is painted distinctively in Levi's signature red, framing the two levels of the store. Inside, designers used the small space advantageously to create a boutique-like environment.
"For girls, hanging out with friends is important," says Barnes, "so we developed a zone where they could meet without feeling in the way. They also like to be inspired, and the store promotes investigation, discovery and touch as they move throughout."
The meeting zone was identified as a place for relaxing away from the main drag of the shopping environment. Placed near the changing area, it features fun seating, small accessories and magazines to browse through.
Designers also made the fitting room area fresh, colorful and relaxing. "It's not just about trying on product and going on your way," says Barnes. "For girls, it's taking a few items, spending time with friends you trust and having them help determine what looks good and what doesn't. This atmosphere enables the girls to spend more time in the store."
According to European marketing director Sue Chidler, the color palette combination of deep pink and Levi's red is much softer than the typical store and plays a big part in the environment. Even the fixtures and curved rails have touches of red. "There are a lot of curves in the approach to fixturing," says Chidler. "The freestanding clothing rails have been translated into more feminine, sculptural fluid forms."
Another key element in the store is the use of realistic mannequins instead of bust forms, a first for Levi's. The retailer recognized that in order to make a strong statement and convey the message that it understands what girls want, it had to add even more personality through lifelike female mannequins.
"It's difficult to bring jeans to life on a shapeless form and make it feminine," says Chidler. "These realistic mannequins have been one of the biggest draws to bring girls into the store. We know from monitoring sales that our shoppers come in and buy the complete outfits displayed on the mannequins."
Playful graphic imagery serves a strong role in the space and complements the main graphic wrapping around the store. This handpainted mural of a girl's face with flowing hair encompasses the store, providing a visual pull throughout.
"The graphics were not an afterthought," says Barnes. "We were conscious of getting customers upstairs, so the girl's logo was key. Her hair starts at the front of the store, along the wall and fixtures and up the stairs. Her face is halfway up the staircase, so it becomes a focal point."
Chidler notes that the Levi's for Girls concept has been a big hit, but that the company only intends to open a handful more in major European cities. Instead of a huge rollout, Levi's will re-create the girls' departments in its roughly 300 unisex store locations in Europe and Asia.
"The new concept has made girls reassess Levi's and think of it as a brand created for them," says Chidler.
The fitting room area is colorful and relaxing so girls can try on clothing and spend time with friends. Designers introduced lights with lampshades to give a homey feel to the space.
Client: Levi Strauss Europe, Brussels, Belgium - John van Dorst, store design and planning manager; Sue Chidler, European marketing director
Design: Checkland Kindleysides, Leicester, U.K. - Henry Barnes, account director; Joe Evans, principal designer; Maggie Wright, designer; Hana Carter and Tony Bell, project management
Architect: C&G, Paris
General Contractor: ARCS, Paris
Suppliers: BOSE, Gillingham, U.K. (audio visual); Checkland Kindleysides, Leicester, U.K. (fixturing, furniture, wallcoverings and materials); Into Lighting, London (lighting); Adel Rootstein USA Inc., London (mannequins/forms)
Photography: Luigi Aprosio, Marche en Famenne, France