Fashion retail experience for a mobile-first, Instagram-friendly, post-Supreme world

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You know things are bad when an industry sector can throw words like “armageddon” around, and it doesn’t sound like hyperbole.

Retail is going through its toughest period in history, with a different household name caving under the pressure almost every day. You could point your finger at any number of factors here. But the brutal truth is that — post-Amazon, post-smartphone, post-social — consumer behaviours have changed irrevocably, with the physical store playing a significant, but diminished, role.

Brands need to deliver a consistent, connected and carefully choreographed experience across multiple touchpoints, both online and off-, in order to cut through. And now, more than ever, the value and meaning of a retail business is defined not just by its brand image but the service it provides; and how these two sides of the same coin interface with one another to define how it really feels to be your customer. 

This is especially true in the business of fashion, where purchases are tied so intimately to the customer’s sense of their own identity, and how they want to present themselves to the world. Fashion is more than just fabric; it’s about how it feels to be you. 

So when an ambitious, forward-thinking fashion brand run by very smart people invites you to redesign their website, they’re not just looking for a facelift. They’re inviting you to consider the end-to-end customer journey, evolve their service proposition across multiple touchpoints, and reimagine their visual identity for a brave new world. 

Context

Initial stakeholder interviews revealed a business at the crossroads. Having emerged in the ‘90s as a brand with immense cultural currency, Patrizia Pepe had - like so many others - struggled to find its groove in a difficult, recessionary trading climate. 

However, the original founders had assembled a crack new leadership team, who had brought with them a new vision, and injected the business with a renewed sense of purpose. 

 

They wanted to evolve their omni-channel service proposition, expand their global footprint, and reach a younger audience to secure their future in the longer term. And they wanted to radically reimagine their model, combining the vision and coherence of a traditional seasonal collection with the must-have-it-now excitement of a drop-based product release strategy.

Approach

We started by getting under the skin of the customer, to understand their motivations and purchase behaviours. We looked hard at the category to understand what a best-in-class service proposition might look like (right the way through the acquisition funnel). And we designed a clear path-to-purchase and site structure that would optimise the customer’s journey through the brand’s new product release strategy and marketing framework.

Concept

Throughout the stakeholder interview process, it became clear that one of the brand’s strongest assets was its brandmark, the fly. It had real power, not just visually but conceptually. It spoke to something unmissable, constantly moving, and impossible to catch.

Our concept was inspired by the customer behaviour, but was designed to act as a North Star for the entire business moving forward. We called it “The Phy/gital Fly” as a nod to the brand’s omni-channel ambitions, but the underlying sentiment was also an attempt to encapsulate the energy and ambition of the key stakeholders.

And the design principles that supported it would inform not only what the experience looked like, but also how it worked — and ultimately how it should feel to be their customer.

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The charm, elegance but essential spikiness of the fly (both literally and figuratively) also informed our choice of typography and the development of our iconography. Ultimately, these simple elements would combine to form the essential building blocks of a universal language for the brand, from social to display, website to WeChat, wayfinding to packaging.

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The design principles would act as a springboard for a series of strategic interventions at key stages of the customer journey; and the new visual identity would ensure that everything felt distinctively Patrizia Pepe wherever you were…

Designing for online/offline attention

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Micro-interactions and product discovery

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Sharpening intent

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Grease and grit on the path to purchase

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Romancing the moment of truth

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Closing the loyalty loop

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Fractured marketplaces, structured experiences

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Credits

Experience Director 
Ben Lunt

Creative Director 
Mooks Hanifah

Senior UX Designer
Moises Nevett

Art Director
Quentin Villeret

UX Designer
Mike Caballero

Visual Designers
Aoife Barron, Meiji Ip

Agency
Wednesday London

Technical partner
OpenMind

 

And yes, I did make an actual Spotify playlist to accompany the original concept presentation; well spotted! Yes, you can listen to it. And no, that’s not what it was called at the time ;)

 

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