Established in 1981, Vanilla started as a predominantly online female fashion retailer with showrooms in East London and Manchester. Having built up a strong reputation through e-commerce and concessions, the brand wanted to continue to deliver trend-led, yet affordable options for females of all ages, by taking the next step into physical retail.
The Bluewater flagship was the company’s first foray into bricks and mortar retail. Since then, various other stores have opened in strategic locations such as Meadowhall and Lakeside Shopping Centre. The look and feel of the stores needed to echo the online brand, with extensive input from Dave Chawla, Owner and Michelle Burns, Head of Retail Stores to achieve this.
The stores trade under the brand name Vanilla, with two sub-brands operating under this title. Pink Vanilla is aimed at 14 – 26-year-olds and is seen as a must-shop destination for a fun fashion fix. Merchandise ranges from glamour to casual gym-wear that is on trend yet affordable. Blue Vanilla is marketed towards the 25 – 55-year-old range, offering styles that are more understated and sophisticated. The overall mission statement of the London design team is to deliver on-trend fashion that is affordable, sustainable, and accessible.
Lakeside was the first store where Vanilla began developing their design identity in earnest. The treatment to the shopfront, signage, and interior fixtures and fittings were agreed, and custom-made halo illuminated wall bay modules were developed to highlight product and add interest and depth to the store. The colour pallet employed within the store was defined, and signage packaged formulated utilising the strong imagery Vanilla has from their online presence.
rpa:group has been providing a full range of services that include Architecture, Project Management and Quantity Surveying to help progress the new store rollouts. For the Lakeside store, rpa:group undertook the initial survey, along with all the architectural detailed design drawings. They also managed the M&E Consultants, Landlord’s Approvals and Statutory Authority Approvals. Other stores in development include Telford, Bury The Rock, Newcastle and Merry Hill.