Rimowa Launches First Experiential Store in Soho Flagship

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Rimowa’s Soho flagship. Courtesy.

The LVMH-owned travel brand is opening a passport studio in its Soho storefront, part of a new strategy developed in partnership with architecture firms MA-MA and Mass Studio to further engage store visitors. Rimowa’s goal with the space is simple: make passport photos luxurious.

“We’re used to sitting in a convenience store, behind a curtain where somebody buys a Coca-Cola,” said Dezaray Romanelli, Rimowa’s managing director of North America. “It’s really not the way you should be kicking off your journey … Like so many things, it takes someone to raise their hand and say ‘wait a second, it doesn’t need to be this way. It could be a lot easier, a lot cooler, more efficient.’”

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Marketing for and development of the studio fits into Rimowa’s location-based retail strategy, where locations offer city-specific merchandise like stickers designed for each store. The brand will put up wild posting advertisements around the neighbourhood, as well as target places like metro station boards. Romanelli says Rimowa’s Soho location takes cues from the art-savvy neighbourhood. An exploded suitcase installation hangs in the window, and the studio was designed more as an art object than a traditional photo booth. Given the international foot traffic Soho receives, the space will act as a global testing grounds for the experiential offering.

According to Romanelli, who got her start working at Rimowa as a store manager over 10 years ago, customers often linger inside the brand’s retail spaces; it’s not unusual to find customers trading stories while waiting for their luggage to get serviced, or talking about their imminent travels with sales associates. The brand hopes the passport station will make people stay even longer, especially to see new products and understand its shift from identifying as a “travel” brand to what it calls a “mobility” brand with a recent expansion into soft, everyday-use products like backpacks and purses. Rimowa sees the experience as a driver for bringing in aspirational buyers who aren’t quite ready to purchase, and a means of creating an accessible touchpoint for the brand — whose suitcases can run upwards of  thousands of dollars.

“We position ourselves as the experts in travel,”  said Romanelli. “Any type of experience we can create for our customer that echoes that, I think for us is a no brainer.”

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