We bloody love Gentle Monster. The South Korean company sells eyewear like no other brand. We’re not talking about its interesting and unusual frame designs, or its cool collaborations. It’s its stores that makes Gentle Monster stand-out.
Each store is completely different to all the others in its network, but at the same time is always obviously part of the Gentle Monster world. Rather than being designed to look like stores the spaces evoke contemporary art galleries. The eyewear is displayed among themed sculptures and installations as though it is part of the artistic aesthetic. The installations often change, which gives customers a reason to come back.
In fact, people are probably more likely to visit the spaces to see the design and take photos and explore, than they are just to shop. The stores even have their own unique fragrance and soundtrack to ensure that none are totally alike. And so Gentle Monster has created a brilliant way for new customers to discover and engage with its brand. This is a company that is creating culture.
Intrigued? You could be visiting fantastic and inspiring retail spaces like this on a Seoul or Shanghai retail safari. In the meantime, whet your appetite with this whistle-stop visual tour of some of Gentle Monster’s most magical spaces.
Buckchon Bathhouse, Seoul, South Korea
Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea
Sinsa Parallel, Seoul, South Korea
Los Angeles, US
Sinsa, Seoul, South Korea
New York, US
Gentle Monster X Mino Burning Planet, Seoul, South Korea
What does this mean for you?
Stores need to be remarkable if customers are going to keep coming back. It’s a simple fact, but one that you’d be foolish to ignore. Do Gentle Monster’s stores look like shops? Can you honestly say you don’t want to take a wander inside one?
Ask yourself the same question of your own stores – what’s the honest answer? Is every store in your portfolio as good as the rest? Do people seek you out when they’re on holiday so they can see how this space differs to the one back home? Gentle Monster has absolutely nailed this with its store model – can you do the same?
Is there a way that you can display your products differently to make them seem more valuable? Although Gentle Monster releases more than 100 new styles every year, its spaces never feel crowded with options. By making the product arrays sparse, it makes its eyewear seem more exclusive. And this is why people are willing to pay more for its products.
Ultimately though, no-one sells eyewear the way Gentle Monster does. This is not your high street optician. This is magic and intrigue and adventure. It’s about reimagining eyewear as a piece of art that you wear on your face and selling it as such. And you know what? It works.