It was Giorgio Armani who once declared, 'Jeans represent democracy in fashion', while Yves Saint Laurent often lamented not having invented jeans. They were once a uniform staple for factory workers and miners, but you'd be hard-pressed today to find a closet that doesn't harbour a pair (or five). So it's fitting that Selfridges has dedicated 26,000 sq ft of retail space to fashion's most enduring material. The London department store's new Denim Studio has been pegged as the largest and most comprehensively curated denim emporium in the world.
The anchor of the space is the digital 'jeanius bar', taking pride of place in the so-called Fit Studio. London-based Kin Design (and former Wallpaper* cohorts) fashioned an interactive table with three large touchscreen tablets, running a stream of bespoke media, from lookbooks and brand biographies to street-style snaps. The digital bites can be passed around the table with the swipe of a finger and 'thrown' onto the big screen.
Customers can also browse the 11,000 available styles, bookmarking their selections into a wishlist that can be emailed or printed out as a pocket-sized booklet. Also on offer: a Denim Tailor, who offers two-hour alterations across every brand; the Platform, which hosts special projects launches and previews; and the first ever personal shopping suite dedicated to denim.
The denim wonderland currently boasts 52 designers in its portfolio, including Rag & Bone, Junya Watanabe and Christopher Kane (soon to join the fold are Proenza Schouler, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Givenchy). Nearly every brand chipped in to create exclusive pieces for the opening.
Retail architects HMKM, longtime Selfridges collaborators, restored original architectural details to the space, as well as decking out the shopfit with lava stone display tables, acrylic grid racks and a futuristic neon-blue beam.
Although it recently opened to the public, the official celebration kicks off next Monday with the launch of Denim Lovers: a blockbuster two-month programme of denim-centric events. Timed to coordinate, Selfridges will also unveil its summer store windows, featuring one-off celebratory denim pieces by designers such as J.W. Anderson, Stella McCartney and Erdem.