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Flagship Stores as Fashion Service Design

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When Louis Vuitton in 1997 did establish an in-house architecture
department under the leadership of the American architect Eric Carlson, the
company was getting ready for a retail revolution to hit in the beginning of
the new millennium: constructions of giant mono-brand stores, the so-called
flagship stores; spectacular city monuments that merge architecture, luxury
fashion, promotion, art, and shopping. Apart from serving the role as ‘place’
(distribution of products) in the 4 or 7 p’s of the classical marketing, the
flagship store is a significant brand communicator, ’a promotional
architecture’ (Steiner, 2000) illuminating the image of fashion companies and
their associated high status. Some fashion flagship stores even act as tourist
attractions in major cities.


In this paper the luxury fashion flagship store phenomenon is analyzed
through a variety of theoretical perspectives from marketing, design
management, retail, fashion, experience economy, to branding. It is argued
that a significant meaning production is going on in the contemporary luxury
fashion after the tangible good production, and the flagship store
phenomenon can serve as a starting point for the development of a distinct
Fashion Service Design. The heavy workload in luxury fashion takes place in
the stores and this fact could indicate that the theoretical concepts known
from Service Design could serve as beneficial tools for the management of
luxury fashion businesses. At the end of the text, classical Service Design
concepts like ‘front-stage’ and ‘touchpoints’ are applied - although with some
modifications - to the luxury fashion flagship store domain.


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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