Style & Fashion

7 Creative Concept Stores in Fashion-Forward Cities

The rise of online retailers may have made shopping simpler, but concept stores tap into the tangible side of the experience—these are some of the best

More an experience than simply a place to shop, concept stores merge fashion, design, beauty, art, and more. Featuring a variety of items from different brands and designers—and often in stunning settings—these stores are frequently refreshed with new, carefully curated items. The idea is nearly 40 years old—Carla Sozzani led the charge when she launched 10 Corso Como in Milan in 1991—but there’s nothing dated about this list of cult shops around the world.

1. 10 Corso Como
Corso Como 10,

Now iconic, 10 Corso Como has been a staple of Milan’s art and fashion scene since the 1990s.

In addition to men’s and women’s fashion, accessories, shoes, bags, homeware, and books, 10 Corso Como features a café, gallery, and even a small boutique hotel.

The venue also hosts exhibitions and art installations—consistently refreshed throughout the year.

Former fashion editor and publisher Carla Sozzani established 10 Corso Como in 1991, and the store now has iterations in New York, Shanghai, Seoul, and Beijing. Situated inside an industrial-style building designed by American artist Kris Ruhs, who also conceived the institution’s target-like black-and-white logo, the Milan outpost combines fashion, design, music, lifestyle, and art (Sozzani also runs the on-site gallery). The store offers a range of avant-garde books and objets d’art, as well as fashion from the likes of Vetements, Maison Margiela, and Azzedine Alaïa. The café/restaurant, with its peaceful courtyard garden, is worth the trip alone, and there’s also a bijou three-room hotel in mid-20th-century style. There might not be a more fashionable address in town.

2. The Apartment
3rd floor, 76 Greene Street, New York

The Apartment showroom in New York is divided into "residential" rooms, encompassing fashion, home and beauty items, and original works of art.

Located in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, The Apartment offers a more serene shopping experience than might ordinarily be expected.

The brick-and-mortar version of the ecommerce shopping site The Line, The Apartment’s minimalist aesthetic gives shoppers space to explore.

Opened by stylists Vanessa Traina and Morgan Wendelborn (who has since departed), The Apartment is an uber-inviting concept store and physical iteration of the fashion and lifestyle website The Line. The showroom is a light-filled SoHo loft divided into rooms (a lounge, a bedroom, and so on), and features set design by Carl Sprague, who is a regular collaborator of movie director Wes Anderson—it’s impossible not to be inspired. On display here are stylish apparel, beauty, and design wares, including items from the likes of Rodin, Susanne Kaufmann, Mansur Gavriel, and Khaite, alongside Jean Prouvé chairs, handcrafted knives by Poglia, and casually elegant Tenfold linens.

3. Merci
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 

The eclectic Merci in Paris is housed in a multi-storied, reconfigured 19th-century wallpaper and textiles factory.

Shoppers can seek out everything from the latest men’s and women’s fashion to used books to kitchenware in the industrial-like space.

Profits from the shop and restaurants within go to charity.

The Colette effect, although the famed fashion emporium will close in December, is still in full swing in Paris, most notably at Merci, housed in a multi-level, former wallpaper factory in the Marais. Here you might find a jacket by RAINS, a Paola Navone sofa, or Cutipol cutlery from Portugal, with profits going to charity. Their specialty is washed linen—from bedsheets to aprons, throws, and napkins—in a range of soft-hued colours: celadon green, heather mauve, and sand rose, for example. The on-site restaurant, La Cantine du Potager, opens onto a small garden, and serves healthy, seasonal dishes and juices.

4. Dover Street Market
18-22 Haymarket, London

Originally on Mayfair’s Dover Street, the concept store of fashion brand Comme des Garçons is now located at 18-22 Haymarket, inside a historic building built by Thomas Burberry of the eponymous British brand.

In addition to permanent installations from Comme des Garçons, rotating, exclusive lines from other acclaimed brands also feature.

Though the overall interior is designed by Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo, each brand is given the freedom to customize their space.

Comme des Garçons creator Rei Kawakubo can take much of the credit for leading the retail migration west of Bond Street in London, giving the Mayfair and St James’s neighborhoods a refresh when she opened her first store on Dover Street in 2004. In the spirit of DSM innovation, a 2016 relocation to Haymarket—just east of Bond Street—within the former Burberry building was once again an intriguing surprise. The interior concept—five stories connected by a Victorian spiral stairwell—and artful installations have been dreamed up by Kawakubo, with the individual concessions designed by the brands themselves, from Simone Rocha to Céline and Palace. Stop for quiche and a jasmine tea at the top-floor Rose Bakery. 

5. Please Do Not Enter
549 S Olive Street,
Los Angeles

Blurring the line between gallery and retail space, Please Do Not Enter in Los Angeles has its roots in men’s fashion and has since expanded its collection. Photograph: Brinson Bank, courtesy Please Do Not Enter

Parisian art lovers Nicolas Libert and Emmanuel Renoird curate the store as if contains their own personal collection. Photograph: Brinson Bank, courtesy Please Do Not Enter

Special editions and exclusive collaborations are a highlight of Please Do Not Enter. Photograph: Brinson Bank, courtesy Please Do Not Enter

Nicolas Libert and Emmanuel Renoird’s multitasking concept store makes its home in Downtown Los Angeles’s Beaux Arts-style PacMutual Building, blurring the distinction between commercial gallery and retail space. Originally targeted to the men’s luxury market, now the offering includes special editions and collaborations, such as a collection of borosilicate glassware made with Fabrica, and exhibitions, including work by Arik Levy and Guillaume Bardet. The men’s clothing selection is mainly the fruits of trips to Paris Fashion Week—including Belgian designer Walter van Beirendonck’s colorful avant-garde pieces. There’s also a range of stylish books, fragrances by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Aedle headphones, and sunglasses by Fakoshima. 

6. Eigensinnig
Sankt-Ulrichs-Platz 4,

Avant-garde clothes, shoes, and accessories from hard-to-find labels feature at Vienna’s Eigensinnig.

Items of fine craftsmanship and extraordinary design are the focus—and this includes the photography on the walls.

Opened in 2012 by Toni Tramezzini and Stephanie Hofer, this sleek showroom displays a well-curated edit of avant-garde, often androgynous mens- and womenswear from hard-to-find labels such as Esther Perbandt, Biek Verstappen, and Divka. Be sure to look for just-launched house brand Atelier Obstiné. Then there are the handmade, offbeat leather shoes by Ematyte and leather goods by ESDE, as well as rotating artworks by a collection of edgy street photographers—another of Tramezzini’s interests. 

7. PLAYA by Lucy Folk
11-13 Hall Street, Bondi Beach,

Designer Lucy Folk worked with Tamsin Johnson to create the bubblegum-pink interior of PLAYA in Sydney.

The shop includes Lucy Folk’s own-design jewelry, sunglasses, and bags, as well as items she has discovered on her travels.

Located in Bondi Beach, PLAYA takes inspiration from the area’s beachy, laid-back atmosphere.

Australian designer Lucy Folk has made a name for herself among the fashion world’s most respected with her collection of jewelry, eyewear, and accessories. Charming Vogue editors and style icons such as Beyoncé and Leandra Medine (a.k.a. Man Repeller) alike, she’s taken the brand global thanks to collaborations with other well-respected fashion outlets in Paris and New York. It’s locally, in Sydney, however, that things are really starting to get interesting, with the opening in December 2016 of a bubblegum-pink concept store in Bondi Beach. Small but perfectly formed, the art deco-style interiors by Folk’s longtime collaborator Tamsin Johnson display Folk’s own designs—1950s-inspired acetate frames in muted shades, gold signet rings set with unusual gems, beaded color-block clutches, and artful costume earrings, alongside a range of directional swimwear.