Jasmax designs Stolen Girlfriends Club's new flagship store in Wellington

Stolen Girlfriends Club, the contemporary fashion brand known for its independent spirit, has announced a new flagship store for Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington.

Opening September 15th, the new store at 98 Victoria Street adds to the label’s two Auckland stores and fast-growing international audience.

“The time was right to expand; to capitalise on our growth and direct our energy into creating a new benchmark for Stolen, not just in New Zealand, but globally,” says Stolen Girlfriends Club creative director and co-founder Marc Moore.

Moore, with creative director Dean Poole from brand partner Alt Group, architect Jun Tsujimoto, principal at Jasmax, and Anna Hill, head of interiors at Jasmax, developed a concept to capture the brand’s independent spirit and energy in built form.

On the well-known fashion corner, three ideas collide: the sculptural shaping of space, art, and contemporary fashion. It is also a three-part progression of colour – black, silver and pink – punctuated with ideas about curated renewal and replenishment, and a commitment to finding special uses for utility-grade materials.

“The store concept runs counter to what you might expect in terms of retail attraction and conversion. It’s actually kind of ‘anti-retail’,” Moore says. “I describe it as an inverted disco ball, purposefully pumping with light in the centre to draw in customers, while maintaining a sense of mystique from the street.”

Poole says it is a “silver-lined capsule, one-part Warholian factory and one part Richard Serra – a Faraday cage with no cell phone reception.”

Tsujimoto describes the sculpted interior with rippling walls of textural silver foil as, “a white noise and visual static stage for fashion that increases the prominence of products on display.”

Stolen’s collection release parties, which over time have achieved mythological status, were a key design driver.

“Tickets to these fashion shows are coveted,” Tsujimoto says. “They are very performative. There’s always an element of surprise. A tactical build-up of anticipation. This retail concept is also about amplifying anticipation into surprise while also, perhaps paradoxically, trying to slow down the shopping, viewing and fitting experience to provide a visceral and social experience.”

From the street, the 150sqm flagship store is hiding in plain sight. Resembling a blacked-out club, it materialises as a void punctuated with slot apertures that reveal tightly prescribed interior views, making store renewal and replenishment a curatorial act. While store access is purposefully slowed down, anticipation conversely ramps up as you follow the 20m-long, blacked-out threshold that delivers you to the dramatic, amorphous silver space.

Inside, the bespoke display objects include blade-like shelves of stainless steel that cut through the curving walls, and a sinuous ceiling-mounted garment rail that wraps through the space. A visit to the oversized pink fitting rooms, one either side of an anteroom, reveals the third part of the spatial progression.

“The fitting rooms face into an anteroom as opposed to into the shop, which speaks to privacy as a form of luxury. You can remove yourself from the shop floor, and enter these beautiful pink rooms,” Tsujimoto says. 

Poole suggests the fitting room colour is a tint of Baker Miller Pink, aka ‘drunk tank pink’ – the colour of choice for police holding cells all over the world. It has a calming effect.

However, Tsujimoto prefers to describe the fitting rooms as like a “secret song at the end of an album” – a luxurious space designed for a comfortable and private fitting experience – the opposite of the online shopping experience people have become accustomed to over the past few years.

With its distinctive architectural language, sculptural shaping of space, and art-meets-fashion approach to product curation, Stolen Girlfriends Club is set to make a refreshingly unexpected retail statement in Wellington.