When Restir, a pioneer in forward-looking luxury retail, opened its third store in Tokyo Midtown the result was never going to be less than revolutionary.
Heralding a revolutionary step in luxury retail, Restir's new store in the Tokyo Midtown complex is taking fashion and technology to new heights.
Restir, the trio of Japanese luxury boutiques, has never been one to rest on its laurels. Since a timely re-branding effort two years ago Restir has become, and maintained the position, of the most cutting-edge purveyor of luxury goods in Japan, and the place to come to gain not only a taste of what's great in fashion but also the future of luxury retail.
Cementing its position further, Restir has gently expanded its mini-empire to debut its third store in the just-opened über-development of Tokyo Midtown (see accompanying story) on March 24th, and, at 1000 square meters, the largest retail space on this much talked about site. Other companies might open new stores, but with Restir Midtown, this Japanese emporium is taking fashion to the next level employing the latest in technology and service to present fashion and retailing in an entirely different light.
With luscious dark tones of soft black, burgundy and purple in materials ranging from wood and velvet to fur, Restir Midtown was designed by French interior designer Laur Meyrieux, who created the stores' Ginza and Kobe outlets. Its position at the main Galleria entrance is not just a reflection of its importance to this cultural-centric Tokyo development, it's indicative of the about-turn in luxury retail as megabrands realize that in order to have that all-important edge cookie-cutter retailing offering the same merchandise and ambience in every location worldwide is no longer interesting or a way to stay at the head of the pack – and with its Midtown store Restir is the unchallenged leader in its field.
Not only will it be regularly commissioning store-specific one-off products from its most exclusive brands on a regular basis, Restir Midtown also features an exhibition space devoted to fashion and art in a multi-sensory, multimedia cadre, allowing shoppers and curious browsers can witness some of the most exciting exhibitions Tokyo has to offer. The first of these is devoted to Chanel. Not only does that mean a line-up of eleven fall 2006 haute couture looks on display until May 6, it also means a bag bar devoted to the 2.55 line featuring lots of rejuvenated versions of the classic quilted bag that are not just for show, they're for sale. It's the second-only time that Chanel has deigned to sell outside of its own controlled stores and corners.
The façade itself operates as one great electronic advertisement of what makes the store so special. It's dominated by a six by four meter LED panel constantly displaying art, films, graphics and visuals related to what's happening inside.
Taking on board some of the concepts that make luxury hotels such an important touchstone for cash-rich, time-poor clients, Restir Midtown has developed the store entrance along the lines of a hotel lobby with specially-trained staff ready to greet and assist those entering the store, a concierge desk to provide restaurant information and organize bookings, and a registration desk for customers wishing to become Restir club members.
The at-home aspect of the store is emphasized on the second floor with each brand designated its own space in an unthreatening, open-plan setting with semi-private lounge corners, all the better to try out the incredibly exclusive range of designer offerings that centers around the most exceptional, show-stopping pieces.
We asked Restir founder and owner Hiroaki Takashita to tell us more about what makes Restir Midtown so special.
Why is it important to be part of Tokyo Midtown?
I was offered by the Midtown developer to create something exciting right in the middle of Tokyo. I took this offer as a big chance since our mission as a select boutique is always to satisfy our customers with the latest product.
Is this an important future trend in retail in Tokyo and perhaps Japan as a whole? And, if so, why?
It all depends on business forces of each company in the project. It will definitely be a successful project if each one of us could bring our ability into play. I am not worried about Restir since we've always been full of fresh news. I would say companies like Santory Museum and Ritz Carlton Tokyo will be quite influential.
What are the challenges you've faced, and the criteria you've imposed, in creating this new retail location?
The hard part was to get in sync with other stores on store exterior designs since Restir has been characterized with highly cutting edge designs.
What architectural guidelines did you put in place for the creation of the store?
Our designer was Laur Meyrieux who also designed Restir Tokyo and Kobe. Our creative team from Restir also had a great role in creating a store with hospitality. We have installed two suite rooms, a reception desk and a concierge desk.
Is there a danger of market saturation from existing and rival luxury retail development Roppongi Hills being so close?
That would have little meaning for Restir as we are one and only.
Regarding Restir as a whole, what makes Restir different and unique?
Besides our hospitality centered services, Restir Midtown plays a role as a media itself. We'll have lots of events in the exhibition space on 1st floor and with the LED TV on the outer wall.
What is your opinion of luxury retail in Japan at the moment, and where do you see it going in the next ten years?
The luxury market in Japan has been in the maturity stage. What's necessary now is to look below the surface, that is, to know how to satisfy the minds of our customers. We put more emphasis now on "a gift" to our busy customers. I also think cutting down the shopping time of our customers is another important form of hospitality as a select boutique.