Heist Studios is opening its first brick and mortar space in London, and it’s taking its cues from how customers have shopped online to do so.
Since launching in 2015, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) hosiery brand has held its community at the heart of everything it does – from its R&D process to advertising campaigns. With the launch of its first ever physical space, called the DemoStudio, it is taking learnings from online into the real world. For example, store associates will be trained by Heist’s existing online customer service team, who has been interacting with shoppers since the beginning.
“Until now, Heist has only ever existed online,” said Joanna Bell, head of retail for the brand. “When we made the decision to open a store, we had to ask ourselves, what does Heist look like in person? How do our brand, values and offering translate?”
Excelling in customer service is an overarching characteristic many successful DTC brands have. For this store, customers will also be able to try-before-they-buy, which is a feature already offered on its site, and a hosiery industry first. Similarly most other DTC brands, from mattresses to luggage, offer a ‘100 day guarantee or your money back’ scheme to encourage customers to take the plunge and buy from a new player in the industry.
At the DemoStudio, unwanted tights from the try-before-you-buy experience will be donated to Smart Works, a charity that provides interview clothing and coaching to long-term unemployed women hoping to enter the workplace. Customers will also be able to drop off any interview-ready clothing donations in-store. The brand is encouraging the activity on its Instagram page, where it gives customers tips on what clothing is appropriate to donate.
The Heist DemoStudio is set to open this weekend (September 8) in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden in London, which is also where luggage brand Away opened its first ever international store last week. As retail experts and the media declare the death of the high street, the opening of two DTC stores in the same neighborhood is an indication that reports may often be exaggerated.
“The highstreet is not dying. Brands that fail to evolve are,” adds Bell. “We see an exciting future on the high street for brands to grow stronger by bringing the best of both online and offline worlds together to improve customer experience.”
Earlier this summer, we also spoke to Jen Rubio, president and co-founder of Away, for TheCurrent Innovators podcast, where she talked about the industry’s radical shift in physical retail. As legacy brands and mega stores shutter, the real estate industry is increasingly opening up to the idea of new players who often enter the field by hosting pop-ups to measure demand – which is part of the strategy for both Away and Heist – to then launch permanent brick and mortar spaces thereafter.
Also previously featured on the podcast is Toby Darbyshire, CEO of Heist Studios, who spoke about the importance of community and inclusivity when innovating in tights.
How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so.TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.