Traditionally shoppers have gone to shops to buy stuff, but is this likely to become only part of the answer?

Traditionally shoppers have gone to shops to buy stuff, but is this likely to become only part of the answer?

On Friday, fashion retailer Jigsaw opened an “Emporium” in London’s West End. Jigsaw? Yes, Jigsaw, the modish stalwart that used to be one of the preferred destinations for, mostly, well-heeled women with a sense of what mattered when it came to getting dressed and looking good. As such, it was tempting to lump it in with the likes of Hobbs, Whistles et al – although perhaps one of its defining characteristics was that there was little sense of a roll-out about its interiors. Indeed, one of the brand’s hallmarks was its choice of distinctive buildings in which to set up shop and then to make something of the interior.

And to an extent, this is what has been done at the two-floor, 6,000 sq ft “Emporium” on Duke Street, just across Oxford Street from the east end of Selfridges. This is certainly a good-looking building, dating from 1860, but there is a bit more about it that just somewhere to buy better-end togs.

For starters, there’s a café. There is perhaps a bit of a ‘so what’ about this, doesn’t every shop worth its salt (as it were) have a café these days? Possibly, but this is Fernandez & Wells, the café where ‘baristas’ are clad in £180-a-throw aprons and which really does merit the label ‘artisanal’. Then there’s the jukebox with a selection personally ‘curated’ (ie chosen) by CEO Peter Ruis, who is just old enough to remember what vinyl was all about.

Couple this with books, skin emollients, accessories and a glass-fronted press office that you can see into while you shop and perhaps this really is a place where you can come to chill, eat, drink and maybe do a little shopping. It is, according to Ruis, a place where the brand can be shown to advantage and a shop that can act as a haven for those tired with the hurly-burley of the West End.  

Chillax is a truly horrible word and too closely associated with the current PM, but it does go some way towards describing what this kind of emporium is all about. Perhaps we really are moving closer towards stores being the kind of places that you go to for a range of services, as much as goods, and where we might just be happy to linger a little longer.