THE EXPERT / RETAIL

”Curation, curation, curation — to offer a relevant physical space 2021 is about curation”

KRISTIAN RAJNAI
On how to create a retail destination in radical times
October 22, 2021

In this new format, we ask one particular profile — a real expert — to guide us to his or her special area. First out, last week, was Kieran Long, the director of ArkDes — the Swedish national museum of architecture and design in Stockholm.

The pandemic has accelerated the ongoing retail transformation and shift in consumer behaviour. If anyone should know have to tackle these challenges, it would be Kristian Rajnai.

— After graduating from business school studying marketing, the ’only thing’ I have done professionally is APLACE, the co-founder tells.

However, founded in 2007, APLACE has, over the years, included a lot of things.

— We’ve started several fashion magazines, we co-founded Stockholm Fashion Week, and, on a regular basis, we’ve also functioned as a creative consultancy for big companies like Telia, Volvo, and Spendrups. 

For most people, though, APLACE is a chain of retail stores in Sweden’s biggest cities, where the spaces in Stockholm and Malmö are accompanied by a brand new in the second biggest, Gothenburg, this week. And yes, they do have a, quite strong, online presence, but have also managed to create curated, well-designed retail destinations, attracting a picky consumer audience.

— For me, APLACE is mostly about creativity, Rajnai explains. Our range is well-curated and includes second-hand, dedicated spaces for art, and, mainly, Scandinavian fashion and home accessories brands. The new store will carry the likes of Henrik Vibskov, Soulland, Libertine Libertine, Adnym, Filippa K, Wood Wood, Brixtol Textiles, and Rodebjer, as well as ceramics and home accessories from Studio Arhoj, Dum Keramik, Sara Söderberg, and more.

Given your vast experience running various different retail concepts, can you share your best tips on how to create a relevant retail space in 2021?

— Curation, curation, curation — to offer a relevant physical space 2021 is about curation. And, to exceed the customer’s expectations on everything connected to their experience. ’Back in the days’, our store had two and then later four big drops every year. Between these, the selection and the store looked pretty much the same. Today, for most of our fashion brands, it remains the same, but between these drops, we have a second-hand selection with unique products that changes every day. And, on a weekly basis, we launch all sorts of projects. It could vary from a tie-dye laundry service with tie-dye experts Mushy, where customers could leave their old bedwear and pay to get it tie-dyed by them, to produce a small collection together with Moa Romanova, in celebration of her new book. Or, a pop-up store with Swedish, world-leading brewery Omnipollo. Already next week, we’ll launch a store-exclusive deadstock project with a Swedish brand. Closer to Christmas, we are looking into doing something with neon. And, since last year, we will continue our — soon to be a tradition — and open up our stores around Christmas for all amazing students at our creative schools to apply for selling their stuff at APLACE Christmas Bazaar.

— My point is that ultimately, the customers never know what to expect when visiting us — more than, most of the time, they like it. And, being a part of our universe sometimes helps them to cover their basic needs but also helps them find things they didn’t know that they liked. At the same time, we also are a selling point for them, where they can sell back their old stuff that they have got tired of and sell it to somebody else that will love it again. By that, we’re also closing the loop in our APLACE universe that we share with them, Rajnai concludes.

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