Now totalling 240sqm, the women’s store officially reopened on November 18, with the men’s store set to open in early December, the expansion occurring next door to the original site which opened in 2005.
Encouraged by the planned revitalisation and recent investment in the area as Sydney’s ‘go to’ shopping strip, after 10 years of occupancy this expansion is a milestone for the business, which has a total of eight stores in Sydney and Melbourne.
Established in 2002 by twin brothers Brian and Vincent Wu, the Incu retail concept comprises up to 100 international brands and emerging Australian talent as well as its in-house fashion label, Weathered. Explaining the need for the store expansion to Inside Retail Weekly, Vincent Wu pointed to the impact of e-commerce on bricks and mortar retailers.
“For us, the future of Incu as a multi-brand is to have a larger floor plan than we’ve had previously,” Wu said. “With the rise of e-commerce stores, which have such a large array of brands, and the increase of mono-brand stores in Australia, we feel that consumers want to see larger selections of our buying edits.
“We carry around 80-100 brands in each store, and felt that we couldn’t properly convey the stories for our core brands unless we were able to dedicate more space to them.”
With the larger space, Incu can showcase the full scope of international and local apparel, lifestyle and accessories brands at the Paddington site, including A.P.C., Alexander Wang, Bassike, Comme des Garçons, Kenzo, Paul Smith, Rag & Bone, and Saturdays Surf NYC.
“We have always seen Incu as a brand that has broad appeal,” Wu said. “We want to be known as a store that is approachable, where anyone can have a great experience, whether they are purchasing something or not.”
The Paddington re-launch follows the success of The Galeries store model, which is around 330sqm in size and showcases the men’s and women’s collections in two separate and equally sized stores.
Incu will be taking a similar strategic expansion approach with its QV (Melbourne) stores.
“We are looking at expanding our QV stores early next year in order to keep them in line with The Galeries stores size,” he said.
“We are growing from 219sqm to 330sqm, so it will give us space to display more product, and will also be the only unisex store, now that Paddington has been split into separate men’s and women’s stores.”
Inspired by Australian landscapes, the employment of raw materials and light colours complements the Incu aesthetic found in all their stores across Sydney and Melbourne, which is described by Wu as “sophisticated yet functional”, conceptualised by Kelvin Ho of Akin Creative, a well-known architect/interior designer for retailers including Sass & Bide, MJ Bale, Nudie Jeans and Strand Hatters.
“We’ve always looked to create warm stores, which encourage interaction and are also functional,” Wu said. “Like everything from the stores, we approach things from a customer’s point of view to make sure they are having the best experience possible.”
Though all stores have the unique Incu feel, each is slightly different. The Paddington store, for example, has a lot more shelving than the other stores, as well as green walls and tiles, referencing the local landscape. Wu points to the shopfront being a highlight, “as it is very wide and leads people into the store”.
The popular retail formula of allowing the product to be the hero is also a theme.
“We purposely try to create spaces that allow the product to take centre stage,” Wu elaborated. “So we use very subtle detailing, such as graduated paint on the walls, warm surfaces like wood and neutral colours.
“It’s taken quite a few designs, but we’re now very comfortable creating a store which facilitates the kind of retail experience we want to offer. We’re very happy with our current fitouts and feel that they allow us room to grow.”
Incu has always carried a range of homewares products, as well as fashion. More recently, however, the market seems to have changed.
“Over the past two years, customers have become familiar with the brands we stock, whereas in the past we had to educate people about our brands and their value,” Wu observed.
“Often we have customers who know more about specific products than we do when they come into the store, so we’re learning a lot from them too!”
Now the retailer is working on offering a wider range of products online that better represents its brand mix. However, the major focus is on its bricks and mortar stores and Wu hints at further growth
“We don’t have anything locked in, but are looking at a few different places for expansion.”
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