What does space in general mean to you?
Airport spaces are special, some even call them the eights continent. There is a very specific vibe around them, people travel and take it as a hub to explore the world. These spaces connect people across the globe. Thus, there is exciting energy and a unique atmosphere, which is why airport spaces are a world of their own for retail. This is also why we decided to open GATEZERO in an airport rather than downtown.
What do you think consumers are looking for in retail spaces today?
There is always convenience when you shop online, so retail spaces always need to think about a more compelling value proposition for young consumers that stands out and is not replicable online. For us, it is an element of inspiration, seeing the product, touching the product, and seeing different products combined with each other, that you might not see in other contexts. Also, it is about accessibility, we always want to make sure we offer products that are only available in-store, so the Copenhagen product selection is only available there and nowhere else. Knowledge is also a key element. We want to make sure that if a customer visits us, they can get all the information about a product and brand as a unique experience that they can’t get the same experience online.
How did your opinion change about (airport) stores in the past 2-3 years?
There will be a big difference between the airports. I think some of the airports really understood that they are more than just a travel hub and need to reinvent the retail value proposition and invest in certain concepts to stay relevant for young customers and to promote the airport as a retail destination. The question you need to ask is how do you promote the airport as a retail destination? For example, the Copenhagen airport will be a unique, comprehensive experience for entertainment, shopping, and dining and other than just a traditional travel retailer. We often say our mission is to make young consumers arrive earlier to shop at the airport. If you fly within Europe with only hand luggage, you want to go to the airport in as short a time as possible, you want to make your flight, and that’s it. We want to change that and make young people come to the airport to explore retailers because they are already in the mindset of shopping and know there are products only available at the airports.
What was the main inspiration to open a GATEZERO permanent store at the Copenhagen airport?
The main inspiration to open up GATEZERO in Copenhagen is two-fold. On the one hand, it is one of the best airports in terms of retail and general travel experience, it is very high-end and the airport management is very forward-thinking and open to innovation. On the other hand, you can tell that the crowd in the Copenhagen airport is unique; they are style seekers and style-conscious consumers. With this combination, we felt Copenhagen is the perfect start for us because there is an appreciation of what we do at Highsnobiety.
Could you tell us more about your collaboration with Heinemann?
It is a 50/50 joint venture, Heinemann is responsible for retail operations and we are in charge of the curation and brands. We think it is a good and natural match because Heinemann has 140 years of experience in travel retail and we bring the expertise of culture and curation.
Can you tell us about your new store‘s design and function?
We always try to create a combination of sense and place but also have some red thread when it comes to the design. The common thread in Copenhagen and Zurich is steel elements, with a lot of rashed details and an overall clean aesthetic. On the other hand, we always try to incorporate localized elements; in Zurich it was the big glass with the mountain, and in Copenhagen, it is the yellow floor connected to the Nyhavn harbor. In Copenhagen, we changed the finishing of the shelves from steel to wood and put more emphasis on digital elements. We are the first store that was allowed to have a screen on the phosad on the airport, we have an engine that produces a lot of content, and we wanted to showcase that.
Monobrand stores in the airports often try to replicate what they have downtown, but we have a different approach. At Highsnobiety, we want to highlight that we are in an airport and play on that. That’s why we also have a huge conveyor belt in space because it is such an iconic element of traveling that everyone knows.
In an airport, you have to be very efficient; we wanted to create an environment that represents the identity of Highsnobiety. On the one hand, we want to be airport-specific, but on the other hand, we want to create an experience that rivals downtown. Young customers don’t need the airports to shop, they can shop downtown.
What was the most exciting learning from the GATE ZERO pop-up at Zürich?
Of course, we had Higsnobiety fans coming into our pop-up in Zürich, but many people who didn’t know Highsnobiety and our culture were still super excited about the space. We think people have gotten bored with the airport retail‘s current state, and we want to change that. Also, we were super happy to learn that the best-selling products are from Highsnobiety, even though we had a fantastic product selection.
Could you please tell us about your plans for the future? Where can we expect the next GATE ZERO?
We plan to roll out the GATEZERO concept around the globe; of course, it is also the motivation behind our partnership with Heinemann. We want to open another bigger shop this year than in Copenhagen and it will be our Flagship store. We also want to expand next year with around additional three stores.
Our seasonal Melagence theme is „Floating“ which associations come to mind if you think of the term floating (also but not limited to in regards to spaces)?
When I think about floating, it is something soft; unwinding is much connected to breaks between our hectic life up until the pandemic. During the pandemic, we all felt like we were working but still floating a bit because nobody knew what would be the next. It was an interesting time in that regard because, on the one hand, it was difficult because you couldn‘t plan anything; on the other hand, it was also liberating because you couldn’t plan ahead, everyone was forced to live here yet. So it gave everyone an opportunity to ‚float‘, even though we were not even close to a pool and the ocean.