Bicester Village - a luxury shopping experience
12th December 2017
At Proportion London we often have a hunch when something in the retail environment is going to be influential, and last year we could sense that something was brewing for Bicester Village. It was this October when the village grew by a third – adding exceptional value not only to the outlet's revenue but also to the newbie brands putting themselves on the Oxfordshire map and being introduced to a whole new customer. Intrigued by the luxury outlet concept and passionate about retail evolvement, as well as seeing our very own product displayed in the rapidly growing mini town, we sent our Brand Manager, Natasha Berridge to investigate; she reports here.
Luxury outlet shopping was once a shameful secret one would have preferred not to share – almost as frowned upon as bargain hunting at a TK Max sale! But fashion-bunnies from far and wide are picking up their Celine bags and power walking in a mad rush to reach a destination now worth boasting about; Bicester Village.
The village which houses over 160 myriad world-class brands and fashion favourites including Acne, Christopher Kane, Roksanda and Alexander McQueen, as well as pretty boutique-lined cobbled streets and rustic flower displays; all merge together harmoniously to create one fabulous style mecca. Hard to believe it was once a field full of sheep and cows; that was of course until Bicester Villages’ founder and CEO Scott Malkin (son of the investor who owned the Empire State Building) signed on the dotted line with various investors and completed the project; opening the village in 1995. Now, incidentally, the same length as Oxford Street, Bicester has attracted over 6 million visitors to its perfectly manicured avenues in recent years – and those numbers continue to grow. While there are recent reports of several high-street stores closing, Bicester Village seems to be booming. Possibly it’s a knock-on effect from the present economic climate; consumers desiring extravagance, albeit at a fraction of the original cost, but never-the-less it demonstrates that consumer behaviour is changing, and luxury binge shopping is a guilty pleasure we’re not going to kick anytime soon.
With significant reductions on product price tags from iconic brands you’d assume that corners would be cut on presentation, display and service but the ‘lux’ in luxury was still very much apparent in Bicester Village. Window schemes, store interior and visual merchandising displays were pleasantly creative. Stores were admittedly more chaotic than say…Bond Street, but the shop assistants were just as helpful. The clothes may be from past seasons but if you’re a savvy shopper you can pick up timeless items and build an envious wardrobe.
After completing your shop, you can finish the day off perfectly, resting those aching feet at a variety of restaurants where you can indulge in locally produced heart-warming dishes. Even better if you can experience the day with a friend, comparing purchases whilst chatting – isn’t that what shopping used to be about; a whole day out dedicated to updating your wardrobe and having fun? So many of us now simply click a button and within a matter of days (or even hours), our latest buys are delivered in a box to our door - but what about the shopping experience?
Putting the designer bargains aside, Bicester Village is retails new revolutionary pièce de résistance, encompassing everything you want from a shopping trip. It’s welcoming and accepting – there’s no judgment. A comfortable experience where you can browse or shop until you drop in enjoyable surroundings and everything so carefully considered. Our only criticism is that a luxury outlet of this scale needs to come to London pronto!