Alasdhair Willis and Emma Cook relaunch British high street stalwart Warehouse
No one does the high street better than the British. Since the shimmy of miniskirts on Carnaby Street in the 1960s, British retailers have created a revolution in style and choice. Opening its first shop on nearby Argyll Street in 1979, Warehouse was the first brand to have its own in-house design team.
‘Warehouse gave so many women access and the opportunity to play in the fashion world,’ says Alasdhair Willis, who from January 2015 has led the rebrand of this high street retailer with an archive stretching across four decades. ‘The new Warehouse is all about reducing the time and space between our customer and the source of creativity and inspiration.’
Willis’ focus has been on harmonising the brand’s visual identity and digital experience with a huge emphasis on customer engagement. A digital platform called [in house] will provide full access behind the scenes, including videos featuring design director Emma Cook working on the collections. She began A/W 2016 with the unselfconscious panache of British women in mind. ‘They like to mix things up and put things together in a way that some people might not think works. She might wear her mum’s trousers from the 1970s with a pair of shoes she bought from Dalston market, and pair a vintage slip from Portobello and a jacket from the high street,’ she says. ‘What is great about this is that she doesn’t care what you think about it, she likes it.’
The clothes are louche, easy and modern; hanky hem skirts are worn over slim jogging pants, clashing daisy prints are paired. A pink sweatshirt is tucked into a zebra jacquard wrap skirt. The store interiors designed in collaboration with Checkland Kindleysides reflect the new brand mission of ’Warehouse curates the city,’ designed to feel like a continuation of the street. Argyll Street reopens today with Cook’s cool collection, merchandised against building façades constructed from robust materials and a sky glowing from a narrow light-box suspended from the ceiling. ‘We are resolutely British now,’ Willis says. ‘What I mean by that is we embrace diversity and the dynamic it creates.’