How to be on-brand and hyper-local? Marni knows just the trick

Tokyo – Marni’s boutiques, no matter the location, are always quite artful: the Italian luxury fashion house often plays with colour and organic shapes in its brick-and-mortar locations. Considering this, it only makes sense that its in-house design team should take inspiration from Japan’s immaculate, lush gardens for its first Tokyo flagship.

Located in the esteemed Omotesando Hills shopping mall, the flagship is a significant vote of confidence in the Japanese market as it makes for Marni’s 22nd store in the country. And that move is right on the nose: growing steadily after being destabilized in the 2011 financial crisis, Japan’s luxury market is back to being one of the largest in the world.

To express their optimism in the market, Marni aimed to pay homage to the local without straying too far from its interior modus operandi – the team’s end-goal was to ‘play with the architectural elements typical of [its] retail projects’ while ‘harmoniously dialoguing with the place that houses it.’

In Japanese art and design, curved shapes are thought to evoke inspiration and intuition. While steel, wave-shaped hanging rails and large, circular lighting fixtures are signature touches in Marni’s boutiques worldwide, the team members took their appreciation for sinuous geometry a step further in the new flagship by overtaking the 300-sq-m space with undulating elements and architecture.

The interiors – drawing from a botanical colour palette – do call to mind the winding pathways of well-groomed Japanese grounds. Irregularly shaped furnishings are meant to enhance the collections spread among four different areas, and tactile flooring surfaces of concrete, marble and herringbone wood help transition a visitor from one to the next.

As Western retailers navigate how to best establish their relevance in Japan’s contemporary luxury market, it’s evident that it pays for fashion brands to show they ‘know’ their consumer. Marni has done just this, fusing cultural reverence with on-brand visual cues rather than simply relying on importing the latter to reel clients in.

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