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Sep 15, 2023

Design and technology are prominently displayed as soon as you step through the entrance of the revamped Bershka flagship store in Milan, which will officially open on Friday, September 15. Located at number 22 on the iconic shopping artery of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, in the heart of the Italian capital, the flagship store is just a few meters away from a stunning Zara boutique, as well as major chain stores like Mango and H&M. It shares the spotlight with luxury brands, but that hasn’t stopped the Inditex-owned brand from shining and causing a great stir just hours before its official opening.

Exterior of Bershka’s renovated Milan store – Bershka

On Thursday, September 14, the excitement was palpable. Inside the store, Bershka’s teams were meticulously finalizing all the details for the imminent opening, while outside, dozens of customers and curious onlookers tried to gain early access to the store during the exclusive press and guest presentation day. The anticipation was significant: the new project of the Inditex-owned brand has been in the works for over two years, and the flagship, the brand’s only store in Milan, had been closed for renovations since April.

“This is one of the three most important Bershka stores internationally, both in terms of sales and capacity,” said brand representatives about the significance of the flagship store, which opened in 2010, in an interview with Furthermore, the brand emphasized “the importance of Milan as a key capital for the business, in terms of customer traffic and image positioning.” It’s no wonder. Since its arrival in Italy in 2010, the country has developed a network of 70 physical stores and has become one of the top five markets in terms of turnover for the Barcelona-based brand.

First floor checkout area – Bershka

These substantial reasons justified stepping up the brand’s presence in Milan, a city that will kick off its fashion week next week, with a “project aimed at enhancing the existing space and strengthening the brand’s presence in the city.” A unique concept and a new design for which Bershka collaborated with Ellen van Loon and Giulio Margheri from the OMA architectural studio, internationally recognized for their work on prestigious buildings such as the Fondazione Prada in Milan, the Casa da Música in Porto, and the Seattle Public Library. The challenge? To transform the historic building housing the store, a space that was once a famous Milanese cinema, into one of the most cutting-edge and innovative stores in the Inditex group.

One Store, two shopping speeds

With the aim of “combining the physical and online shopping experience in an innovative space,” OMA has created a unique identity throughout the 1,872-square-meter store, spread over three floors connected by an impressive spiral staircase. With a minimalist and industrial style, the aesthetic combines materials such as concrete, pastel pink resin, and recycled plastic to create a material reminiscent of marble. In addition, the redesign is based on the contrasts of geometric structures of different shapes and colors, inviting to different services and spaces.

The men’s collections occupy the second floor – Bershka

Regarding the possibility of deploying the design internationally, Bershka prefers to maintain exclusivity. “It’s not necessarily a concept that we will implement in all stores, but rather an exercise in creativity for this space. It’s a unique endeavor,” they explained, without ruling out the idea of ​​developing different styles in other flagships.

In this innovative approach, speed is a key concept. Thus, the renovation has been designed by considering consumer behavior around two needs: speed and autonomy versus a more attentive journey, allowing “adjusting the flow and levels of interaction within the store.”

Vertical “Click&Collect” accommodates up to 300 packages – Bershka

In this way, the 24 payment counters are distributed among traditional and automatic ones, in different areas of the store. Dedicated to the presentation of the brand’s women’s collections, the ground floor also includes a dedicated area for online returns, as well as a space for picking up online orders with a simple QR code presentation. With the capacity for 300 vertically arranged packages and a robotized polycarbonate structure, it is the largest “silo” in a Bershka store to date.

Group and interactive dressing rooms to enhance the omnichannel experience

In addition to the multiple LED screens for displaying digital content, there is an innovative proposal for dressing rooms. The third floor is entirely dedicated to 34 individual dressing rooms with RFID garment recognition. The second floor, mainly dedicated to men’s collections, provides access to an innovative dressing room area called the “Fitting Lounge.”

New group fitting rooms – Bershka

This space, the first of its kind opened by Bershka, offers a series of spacious collective dressing rooms (for up to four people) that customers can reserve for half an hour. “We have tried to turn the store into a social space,” said OMA about the interactive area, aimed at sharing the shopping experience on social media platforms. Equipped with a product recognition system, the dressing rooms have touch screens for searching for sizes, styles, or inspiration. The space also allows for direct payment, as well as customization of lighting and music.

Finally, one dressing room is dedicated to the digital experience through Snapchat technology. Developed in collaboration with DressX, the space uses augmented reality to create digital clothing filters and various innovations. So far, Bershka had tested this technology only in its stores in Lisbon and Valencia.

The “Generation Bershka” capsule collection – Bershka

With around 100 employees, the flagship will be open from 10 am to 9 pm every day of the week. Its offerings will include limited-edition collections, such as “Generation Bershka,” an exclusive capsule to celebrate the brand’s 25th anniversary, and innovative footwear designs developed in collaboration with the Italian collective Ral7000studio.

In the first half of the current fiscal year, Bershka increased its sales by 12.3% to 1.184 billion euros, making it the second-largest brand in the group (only behind Zara) in terms of turnover. During the same period, the group’s total sales amounted to 16.851 billion euros. As of July 31, 2023, Bershka had a total of 855 physical stores, compared to 969 a year earlier.

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