Bonds Kids Concept Store:
Westfield Doncaster, Doncaster VIC
Before too long, Bonds will be 100 years old — Australians have been wearing the same brand of T-shirts and undies for nearly a century. Now, medium-sized littlies can join in the fun, with the recent launch of Bonds Kids.
Until now, only babies up to Size 2 were catered for. Now, Bonds is making products for Size 3 to Size 7 (only available in Bonds stores and online at this stage), and have launched a new store concept to celebrate. The first Bonds Kids store, in the black-label Westfield Doncaster, stocks clothing and underwear for both babies and kids.
The brand teamed up with Design Clarity for the store concept and worked on the project for around five months before the store opening. Belinda Barlow, the general manager at Bonds, Underwear — Retail, says that the look and feel of the store is just a bit whimsical. “It almost has a sort of fairytale-esque kind of feel,” she explains. “There’s lots of yarn, and wall buttons that flow right through; from mini-size mirrors on the walls for the littlies to look at themselves, right through to fitting room hooks where mums can hand products on, for trying on their little ones.”
PRAM TURNING CIRCLE
A key part of the finished design is the dedicated ‘Kids’ Cafe’ space, with a mini table and Acapulco chairs in the play area. This is a favourite of the team at Design Clarity — Kristina Hetherington, Danielle Lloyd and Vici Schneyer — who say that their finished product draws on the best aspects of existing Bonds store designs, but adds “colour, fun, a child-like influence, a touch of theatre and joy”, as well as some space for prams.
“It’s kept the essence of our Bonds store concept by having a clean/white backdrop but overlays some bright and fun colour, to really bring the essence of the Bonds brand to life,” Barlow continues. “We really wanted to create an environment which was pretty fresh and new in the kids space, and also give our customers a wonderful experience and make a bit of an impact in that first store.”
Barlow explains that Bonds’ status as an iconic Australian brand means that its enthusiasts feel strongly about the brand and freely publicise positive as well as negative experiences. Therefore, the new store concept was designed to appeal broadly to parents and kids. “We really wanted the store to appeal to everyone, because we think Bonds does have a product for everyone,” she explains. “But we wanted the store to take customers on a journey as well. So we tried not to hark too much on the heritage; we felt it was really important to create a fresh environment that would take the brand forward.”
PRODUCT IS THE HERO
The designers say that their challenges included balancing product density with ample space for customers, as well as “making certain the store remains the backdrop, and the product is the hero.” Another challenge comes in the form of creating a rewarding customer experience. “It’s all about the customer journey, now more than ever,” says Hetherington. “We may like the convenience of shopping online, but we also love finding beautiful stores to explore — where tactility, accessibility and effortlessness are all key. We still want to see the product in our hands, feel it, stretch it, smell it, try it on. Our main aim is to make that experience stand out.”
The Australian retail industry has been facing tough times in recent years, but Barlow says that Bonds is fortunate to have largely weathered the storm, and is confident that Bonds Kids stores are giving buyers what they want — citing many repeat customers at the Doncaster store in its first two months. But putting effort into creating an enjoyable shopping experience is a worthwhile investment, in any case. “People do expect a lot from Bonds,” Barlow says. “So to be able to take them on that journey and to have them leave feeling even happier about Bonds than when they walked into the store, is a really positive thing.”
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