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business Editor's pick Retail sustainability technology

9 brands pushing sustainable store design

With sustainability an increasing priority on the agenda for fashion and retail businesses around the globe today, attention is also turning to their brick-and-mortar stores – how they’re resourced, designed and constructed. 

According to Schneider Electric, retail buildings are the largest consumers of energy among non-residential buildings in Europe, contributing $20 billion each year. Factors such as electricity, air conditioning and lighting all contribute to a brand’s carbon footprint and emissions. 

The interesting thing is that going green is proven to not only help retailers reduce their impact on the planet, but significantly save them money. A 20% cut in energy costs can represent the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales, according to Carbon Trust. 

Investing in sustainable store design, therefore, has a positive effect on profit, people and the planet. From locally-sourced materials, to energy saving light bulbs, and even the removal of any plastic packaging, there is an incredibly wide range of ways retailers can make their stores more environmentally friendly. 

Here we highlight some of the best examples of brands going above and beyond with their stores in order to do so: 

Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney London flagship store

Last year Stella McCartney opened a new flagship store in London that expands four floors and embodies sustainability throughout. The outposts of the store are lined with recycled foam and card that were made from waste paper from the London offices. The space is also the first to use biodegradable mannequins,  made from 72% sugarcane bioplastic, which significantly reduces CO2 emissions. To help combat air pollution, the store has a hidden ventilation systems that removes 95% of air pollutants and harmful gases, such as nitrogen dioxide. At launch, Stella herself said: “The store really tells the story of the world of Stella McCartney, seamlessly incorporating sustainability, fashion and luxury.”

Ikea
Inside Ikea’s Greenwich Store

Ikea opened a sustainable store in London’s Greenwich, built from a range of renewable materials in 2019. The roof is covered with 75% solar panels, which power the store, and rainwater is harvested to help reduce the store’s water consumption by 50%. The store not only helps the environment, but is also working towards improving the community around it. Ikea holds an array of classes such as bunting making, which utilizes off-cuts of IKEA fabric, helping spread the message of full utilization. The design of the store has been awarded an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM certification, which is the highest award for sustainable construction, covering areas such as energy, land use and materials. Efforts to incorporate geothermal heating, 100% LED lighting and textile recycling, have also elevated it to become the most sustainable retail store in the UK.

Patagonia
Patagonia Store in Victoria, Canada

Patagonia is not only leading the way with sustainability in manufacturing, but is going above and beyond with its store design strategy. Each outpost is uniquely designed to reflect the history and culture of its location, while simultaneously keeping the planet in mind. The Victoria store in Canada, which opened several years ago now, for instance, had three main goals when it was being designed: to use sustainable construction methods, utilize reclaimed materials and become the best retail space for outdoor activities in the area. It features a range of wooden details throughout, from wall decorations to shelving units, giving it a grounded earthy feel. The wood was wastage retrieved from the Pacific Ocean and leftover material from the local yacht club.

Country Road
Country Road store in Melbourne

Australian fashion retailer Country Road opened its flagship store in Melbourne this summer also with sustainability in mind. The space is made from recycled materials such as yoghurt containers, fishing nets and recycled paper. It is the first to receive a 5-star Green Design review from the Green Building Council of Australia. It also includes details like fitting room hooks that have been made using ocean plastic and tables from recycled plastic. The brand hopes this store design will be the first of many, as it continues to expand in the country.

Starbucks
Starbucks sustainable store design

Starbucks is leading the way in the coffee sphere by building LEED-certified stores, which stands for ‘leadership in energy and environmental design’. These green stores use LED lighting, recycled flooring tiles and wood products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship council. They are 25% more energy efficient and 30% more water efficient. In countries with solar and wind projects, the stores are run on   100% renewable energy. Starbucks already has 1,612 LEED-certified stores, but is intending to extend the framework to 10,000 by 2025, which could save $50m in utility costs over the next 10 years alongside reducing impact on the planet.

Bottletop
Bottletop’s London store

Sustainable accessories brand, Bottletop, opened the world’s first 3D printed store, created by robots using upcycled plastic, in London. Based on Regent Street, it is zero waste and home to the brand’s sustainable handcrafted collection of leather goods. The space embodies the company’s core mission to empower people through sustainable design and creative culture. The flooring of the store is made from reworked rubber tyres and the interior is made from 60,000 upcycled plastic bottles. Overall, the store aims to re-imagine the future of ecologically responsible construction through zero waste design.

Ganni
Ganni store

Danish fashion brand Ganni recently opened its new London store following a number of doors in Copenhagen and Stockholm. While it features bubblegum pink walls fit for every Instagrammer’s dream, it is also underpinned with a green strategy in mind. The store incorporates  sustainable features such as recycled plastic displays made from old plastic bottles, plant pots, food packaging and coffee grounds. Decorations throughout are either vintage pieces or upcycled products, including rugs that have been remade from old Ganni collections. The company also uses renewable energy across all of its stores, with the aim to have 100% green sources by the end of 2019. 

Lush
Lush’s plastic free products

As one of the sustainability leaders in beauty, Lush recently stepped up its game by stripping back several of its stores in Berlin, Milan and Manchester, in a bid to go entirely plastic free. The ‘Naked’ stores, as they’re called, are part of the brand’s initiative to tackle the plastic waste problem in the cosmetic industry. They all feature products like the brand’s solid shampoos, which don’t necessitate any packaging. Each of them further serve as an open space for NGOs and activist groups to educate and increase consumer awareness on the topics of zero waste and ocean plastics.

Reformation
Reformation store

Cult fashion brand Reformation puts sustainability at the core of everything it does, from local manufacturing and sustainable dyeing to green buildings and fabrics. Its Los Angeles stores and headquarters are all Green Business certified, meaning they implement strategies to save energy, improve water efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. Reformation offsets its store build by 100%, by calculating the construction footprint. The materials in store are also sustainable with LED fixtures,  recycled fabric insulations and natural rammed earth materials.

How are you thinking about sustainable innovations? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Each of the rules referenced above is matched by one of our products and services. Interested in how? Get in touch to learn more.

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business e-commerce Editor's pick technology

Drone delivery is upticking for retailers, but Uber also has big plans for shoppers

Amazone Drone Delivery

Drones are back on the retail radar again, this time in Australia where e-commerce site The Iconic has announced its intentions to use them to deliver goods within the next two to five years.

The company’s CEO, Patrick Schmidt, told the Australian Financial Review his customers would benefit from speedy drone delivery. “We are pioneers of fast and flexible delivery, and we push the boundaries on delivery, so it’s something we are thinking about,” he explained.

The website already offers three-hour delivery in Sydney and same-day services in Melbourne, but is in constant competition with international players often able to ship items in as fast as local companies can across the country otherwise.

Regulations stand in the way of drones yet being a reality however. “Delivery via drone is not yet regulated, so it probably depends on the legislators on whether that would be possible … but in the technology space, things happen fast, so you never know,” Schmidt said optimistically.

Meanwhile in the US, Amazon is getting closer to its reality of “Prime Air” – a delivery system that aims to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles. It has recently been granted authority by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test this concept, albeit with the restriction of the drones flying under 400 feet, at a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour, and remaining within the pilot’s line of sight.

The move has been hailed a victory for the e-commerce company. It will also likely set a path for other businesses to follow. “Putting Prime Air into service will take some time, but we will deploy when we have the regulatory support needed to realize our vision,” reads the page on Amazon’s website dedicated to the program. “One day, seeing Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road,” it continues.

Fashion and retail brands have been experimenting with drones over the past year or so elsewhere too, albeit largely to generate PR around a newsworthy subject. Fendi put them on the runway during Milan Fashion Week in order to stream content to a live audience online, while more recently, Crocs used them in Japan to deliver shoes straight from shelves to customers as a promotion for how light its new Norlin sneaker is. A recent article published by i-D also explored all the (slightly ridiculous) ways in which drones and wearables are combining from a fashion perspective.

When it comes to shopping however, the other piece of big news in terms of delivery over the past week was about Uber’s plans to launch a major merchant program in the US through its UberRush couriers and Uber drivers.

The move will provide retailers with the ability to get goods from local stores to shoppers within the same-day. Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co and more are all said to be in discussions. According to TechCrunch, there could be as many as 400 different merchants currently in talks.

“It’s not hard to imagine Uber combining [verticals like] fresh food, restaurant food, home goods, online purchase orders, and more, into a single logistics framework that is dispatched to its thousands of drivers and couriers. A driver could theoretically have Johnny’s pizza in the front seat, Jenny’s new Louis Vuitton bag in the trunk, and you in the backseat,” the article reads.

Perhaps what we need is for Uber and Amazon’s Prime Air team to partner up – when the traffic gets all too much for the Uber deliveries to be efficient, said driver could be well placed as a drone pilot directing the package to its final destination all the while keeping it strictly in his line of sight. Just a thought.

In the meantime, expect a big focus on shipping services across the board to start emerging, with all manner of start-ups entering the space and aiming to disrupt it. According to Jennifer Hyman of Rent the Runway, that’s exactly what is needed for retail. Speaking at SXSW this year, she called for the existing delivery companies to be put out of business, and for the system as it stands to be “ripped up and recreated” in order for e-commerce businesses to have sustainable profit margins. “We need to get the level of e-commerce across the board up from 10% of total retail sales to 30% or 50%, and the only way that is going to happen is if the delivery method changes,” she expressed.

This post first appeared on WGSN.com/blogs

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Mimco invites fans to create personalised digital kaleidoscopes

Australian accessories brand, Mimco, has launched a digital initiative called The Social Kaleidscope, which invites fans to create a personalised piece of artwork merging images from its new collection with their own photographs.

Selecting from three different shapes to fill, they can import pictures from their Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram accounts, and can combine them with Mimco product shots and its Season 2 campaign images starring model Jessica Gomes. They can then share their creations with friends back through social media.

The brand has also enlisted a number of tastemakers to the initiative, such as actress and presenter April-Rose Pengilly, blogger and stylist Micah Gianneli and illustrator Sarah Hankinson.

Below is one we made using a Mimco ring, vintage car from the brand’s campaign images, yellow fixture from one of its bags, a rainbow photographed on a grey day in our own back garden, and an Instagram shot of a turquoise painted wall with international clocks on it! Check it out: