UK brand and retail designers Checkland Kindleysides have designed Hunter’s first global flagship store in collaboration with Hunter’s Creative Director Alasdhair Willis. The store which is located on Regent Street, London will form the foundation of future retail and shop-in-shop opportunities worldwide. “The store is a journey designed to capture the senses and a spirit of adventure, it’s a playful and very Hunter take on the outdoors. It’s surreal, graphic and at times dreamlike, it’s a fantasy take on reality executed in a uniquely Hunter way.” says CK Creative Director, Joe Evans
The innovative design takes iconic references from the British countryside and re-appropriates them for the urban setting. The store creates a new take on rural architecture and the outdoors, redefined in the spirit of Hunter. The store spans three floors; this provides the opportunity to create three distinct experiences for visitors; each one reflecting Hunter’s pioneering spirit as a brand that ‘takes the path that others dare not take’, with this in mind we decided to treat store entrance as the start of a journey.
One of the first references of the British countryside is a contemporary barn structure that carries through from the Regent Street windows to the inside of the store, creating a transition space between the city environment and the ‘outdoors’ and the start of the journey. Featuring Hunter barn doors, in the brand’s iconic red, the doors form the backdrop to the windows, opening up to unveil the inside of the store. ‘Daylight’ filters through the grey tinted Douglas fir rafters of the barn, giving a sense of sunlight after a downpour, with ‘puddle tables’ below displaying products in a playful way, as if they were sitting in standing water.
At the end of the barn, a gabion dry stone wall displays the brand’s iconic Original Wellington boots, first introduced in 1956. Beyond the barn is ‘the courtyard’, which has a forest of hand-painted Douglas fir trees; these are designed to be almost ghost like as silhouettes. Between the trees product is merchandised, and beyond this area are a series of glazed apertures with vistas into an ‘infinity forest’. This is an illusion which is created to give a true sense of a magical world beyond the store boundary.
Providing a dramatic backdrop to the staircase is a 5m high LED screen running between the ground and first floors. The screen entices customers upstairs and presents exclusive content from the brand’s London Fashion Week shows to campaigns, film and recent events. These screens will give Hunter the opportunity to deliver real-time broadcasts from events around the world. Referencing Hunter’s unquestionable relationship with the infamous British weather, the screen will display regular weather updates from throughout the UK; each time accompanied by a coordinating soundscape that echoes throughout the store. The journey to the first floor takes us up the staircase, designed to feel industrial with a familiar agricultural building vernacular, in grey mesh with treads of rubber; giving a brand relevant underfoot experience.
The first floor is designed to bring out some of the British eccentricity of the brand and is a surreal take on an enclosed English garden, where the collection is displayed against a backdrop of topiary hedges, which pop as illuminated pieces of art; whilst the hand-made green ceramic floor tiles hint at an archetypal well-kept lawn. The feeling in this space is light and airy. Again, it is imagined the rain has passed and more ‘puddle tables’ sit in the enclosed garden displaying products, some of which are hung over the ‘puddles’ as if they are drying.
Set behind a wall adjacent to the hedges are spacious fitting rooms, they are an adaptation of the boot rooms downstairs, with slatted walls and doors individually painted in Hunter colours of green and red.
The contemporary concrete cash desk includes a red seal featuring Hunter’s original identity of a pair of scales with the date of the company’s founding, 1856. The seal is also used as a discreet detail in key areas around the store. Behind the cash desk, a pair of barn doors painted with soft rubber touch paint, provide a sensory experience similar to touching Hunter footwear. The doors are slightly ajar and an illuminated image creates a sense of a hidden vista beyond.
Positioned in key locations on the ground and first floors, there are seating areas to reference a rural ‘boot room’; each features headphones for customers to listen to curated soundtracks that evoke experiences associated with product within the space. On the first floor the boot room in the vernacular of a farm building is constructed from galvanised steel and provides a haven to try on Field footwear.
Passengers taking the lift experience a ‘Field’ soundscape and grass lined walls. Stepping out of lift and into the basement, the feel of the space is distinctly different from both the ground and first floors of the store. The retail space is a contrast of Hunter red and white, with red element designed to feel as if the basement was part dipped in rubber. This provides a space for playful kids’ product presentation, with pigeonhole displays and red bricks sitting in frames to display products. Kids have their own version of a boot room and there is a recessed space under the pavement lights, which acts as a stage to showcase campaign and product stories.
The basement also provides a stock room for the store without losing retail space, as Hunter boxes are stacked like a dry stone wall, creating their own VM display of popular sizes to ease self-selection. Jeff Kindleysides says: “The store design brings together the pioneering energy, spirit and innovative character of the Hunter brand. It’s a careful and thoughtful blend of nature, materials, the vernacular of agricultural architecture and art.”
Alasdhair Willis, Creative Director, said: “The Regent Street flagship is the first opportunity for the Hunter customer to enter the home of this iconic British brand. This ambitious new store concept starts to clearly deliver a retail experience that represents the brand’s exciting new vision and future. Lifting iconic references from the British countryside and reappropriating them for this urban environment delivers Hunter’s take on the traditional store concept and was designed to appeal to our diverse customer base.” James Seuss, CEO, said: “The opening of Hunter Regent Street is a key milestone in the development of our brand. Following the recent launch of our new global e-commerce site, our global flagship store delivers a retail concept that will form the basis of future retail opportunities in key cities such as Tokyo and New York. It was important to establish our first retail presence on London’s Regent Street, one of the most iconic shopping streets in the world, staying true to our heritage as a British brand.”
The 5,300ft2 store is located at 83 Regent Street, London W1B 4EN.