Look hard and then look again. Does it look like Benetton?
Well, probably not, but Playlife is the brainchild of Alessandro Benetton, executive deputy chairman of the eponymous Benetton group, and its first store opened at the end of September in Treviso. This is primarily a clothing store, set in the city’s historic district, which means a building where raw brick is waiting to be exposed and timber rafters can be put on view if the owner feels it appropriate.
Playlife in fact makes good use of the architecture, but it would be easy to miss all of this in the blizzard of visual merchandising propping that has been installed. This ranges from bikes attached to walls to rolls of celluloid film arranged in piles. The pendant lights are worth noting too, varying from simple red cloches to eastern harem numbers featuring filigree work and rhinestones.
Bleached untreated wood is employed in the mid-shop, and around the perimeter of the display units and shelving there are even white bathroom tiles and blackboards on the walls, all in the name of making a difference.
And then there is the stock. This may be about clothing and the store may be in Benetton’s head office town – handy for Mr B to nip in and see how things are going – but this is not solely a shop for fabulous gear. If you feel so minded, folding bikes, Polaroid cameras and travel books are among the merchandise.
Two more shops are due to open in northern Italy before the year’s end and after that plans are in place to take the formula across Europe. We shall see.