Where can you find the world’s most inspiring shops and retail concepts? For his legendary RetailHunts, RetailDetail founder Jorg Snoeck is constantly looking for astonishing concepts, so he likes to take you around the world in a mini summer series. This week: flexitarian health foods, altruistic streetwear and OMO.
1. Flax & Kale, Barcelona
Flexitarian restaurant chain Flax & Kale puts health and sustainability first, without compromising on taste or ‘trendiness’. With four restaurants in Barcelona, one in Madrid, and two stores (one offline and one online), the formula prides itself on being the first Spanish restaurant chain with B-Corp sustainability certification. “Nowadays, there is hardly any doubt about the correlation between good nutrition and strong, disease-free health. Our passion is to feed you better, so you can be happier and live longer with optimal health”, founder and vegetarian chef Teresa Carles Borràs explains.
In 2017, Flax & Kale also entered into a unique collaboration with H&M: in its Passeig de Gràcia shop, ‘Flax & Kale à porter’ opened to serve customers takeaway dishes and drinks. It has since closed, but Flax & Kale does have its own “intelligent corner shop” in its Tallers restaurant. In the contactless and cashless shop, visitors can buy products from the chain and from matching brands. Smart cameras record movements and what people take with them. The product range includes its own kombuchas.
2. The Giving Moment, Dubai
The Giving Moment is a brand driven by values: the young streetwear label was founded in 2020, after Dominic Nowell-Barnes settled in the United Arab Emirates and studied the impact of the fashion industry. His ambition was to change the way fashion is consumed towards conscious consumerism.
Nowell-Barnes wants to create a new model where sustainability is also achievable for the youth, through a disruptive brand that brings meaningful fashion. Every purchase must have impact, and The Giving Moment takes that literally: for every product sold, around four euros goes to charity. By last January, the brand had already reached four million in donations. The label is now available online worldwide and has a landmark shop in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates, inside the THAT Concept Store premises.
3. Heyshop, Shanghai
Heyshop is experimenting with fitting rooms: in its first Shanghai shop, they were given a central location in the middle of the space. The second shop takes the test one step further and makes the fitting rooms so large that you can easily spend an afternoon there with a whole group of friends. A smart idea, as the fitting room is the key to offline retail and experience.
A Chinese pioneer of co-retail, Heyshop began as an online platform for small creative brands, but noticed a need for a physical component to limit returns. Today, Heyshop’s shops are social hot spots, which also have a coffee bar and a studio for live streaming. Brands pay a monthly fee to display their products there, in addition to a commission. Still, Heyshop keeps a tight rein on the purse strings: if a product proves unpopular, it could be off the shelves a day later.
Why do brands let this happen? The strict curation is precisely the strength of the concept. Consumers have to come back regularly and they can be confident that they will always be shown the latest and hippest products. At the same time, brands get access to a highly detailed real-time data dashboard. Heyshop is thus no longer a shop, but rather the ultimate example of online-with-offline (OMO) integration.
4. Reclothing Bank, Shanghai
Zhang Na has been a Chinese pioneer in sustainable fashion for decades. With her brand Reclothing Bank, she designs fashionable and sustainable items by using old fabrics and discarded clothing. She also develops fabrics herself and regularly hires people with a distance from the labour market – from production to catwalk models. In this way, Reclothing Bank stands for a unique closed-loop system of recycling, regeneration, sales and social welfare.
In early 2023, the brand opened a shop at The Inlet in Shanghai to bring the label that had already achieved cult status in the Chinese fashion world to a wider audience. The clothes are not cheap, but that is intentional: all the more reason to cherish and keep them, Zhang Na believes. Incidentally, the designer also works with Starbucks, Nike and Kiehl’s, among others.
5. Ikea DM, Helsingborg
DM stands for Do More and is a new concept by Ikea‘s retail holding company Ingka Group to connect with local communities. The home furnishings retailer seeks all possible ways to identify and attract new talent, including from people the company would otherwise have difficulty reaching. During H22 City Expo, a festival in which the retailer spent five weeks exploring the future, Ikea therefore launched an urbanfarm project with a social focus.
In Drottninghög, a socially deprived area in north-eastern Helsingborg, the company set up a multifunctional marketplace with pop-up shops, markets, an urban farm, a food court, events, school activities and a place to meet. Ikea used DM as a springboard for employment, recruiting people and promoting self-employment. The city farm and market still exist today and the project helped 53 people find permanent jobs.