LN-CC London Store Overhauled With Focus on Elevated Shopping Experience

LONDON — LN-CC, the Hackney-based concept store known for pioneering experiential retail in the early 2010s, will unveil a new identity on Thursday that aims to elevate its brick-and-mortar presence with a luxury touch under the current Italian owner The Level Group.

It marks the first time the retailer would open its doors to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting Saturday, customers will be able to explore the new space, where an enhanced, appointment-only personal shopping service is also available.

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Cristian Musardo, chief executive officer at LN-CC, said the store renovation was the result of “a good combination of several circumstances” as the owner of the building that hosts LN-CC was planning to give it a major redesign two years ago.

To achieve that balance between past and future, Musardo conscribed Gary Card, set designer and a long-term collaborator of LN-CC, who was responsible for envisioning the retailer’s cult-like shopping experience twice, in 2010 and 2015, to lead what Musardo calls LN-CC 3.0.

“Partnering with Card was the natural choice. This is the final part of a trilogy that closes the loop of this evolution,” he added.

Working with the in-house creative team, Card was given a healthy budget to transform the space to meet the expectations of today’s fashion consumers while maintaining its unique voice.

The multifunctional space L8TE inside LN-CC
The multifunctional space L8TE inside LN-CC.

“The first couple of times, it was me and my dad building it. There was a lot of stuff that was fairly janky. This time, we gutted it and completely turned it on its head. It still has the same heritage. There are nods to the original LN-CC. We’ve been allowed to make truly luxury spaces with banging sound systems, proper security and air conditioning,” said Card, who is currently in Hong Kong for his first solo exhibition outside of the U.K., titled “People Mountain, People Sea,” at the Oi! art space in North Point.

The tunnel design, a visual icon of the store, was moved from the basement to the ground floor and given an orange hue. It harkens back to the original tone of the store that opened almost 15 years ago.

The main retail space is divided into multiple rooms that highlight various aspects of LN-CC’s offerings. Atrium, for example, hosts the store’s top-performing brands such as Miu Miu, Kiko Kostadinov, Y/Project and Diesel.

Cobalt showcases its streetwear range, which includes an exclusive drop of Mschf’s viral Timberland-inspired boot “Timbs.” The Midtarsal is the footwear space with an earth tone, curvy display, while Callisto, named after the second moon of Jupiter, is home to the super brands of today, such as Bottega Veneta, Prada, Moncler, Margiela, The Row and Rick Owens.

LN-CC's footwear space Midtarsal
LN-CC’s footwear space Midtarsal.

The store’s club space, a popular hangout spot back in the days for the London fashion community, is reimagined as L8TE, a multifunctional space fitted with a customizable lighting system built into the walls ideal for brand launches, takeovers and dinners.

Musardo said the tunnel is “a good example of the balance between innovation and remaining true to your roots,” while L8TE, from a business perspective, enables the store to transcend beyond a retail space, to provide additional value for brand partners who are looking to hire the space for content and experience creations.

Overall, Musardo believes that LN-CC was able to stay out of the recent British luxury etailer debacle — which saw Farfetch and Mathesfashion being sold at knock-down prices — because there is only a small overlap between its assortment and those carried by big platforms that were under financial pressure to go down on margins to maintain market share.

“Our strategy has been to just be ourselves, to provide a distinctive assortment mixing mainstream and underground, the high and the low in our own way,” Musardo added.

He believes that a multibrand store like LN-CC should be “a nexus for creativity,” as it provides a stage for interesting conversations between brands and customers to start.

“The store is well-positioned to play the role of a catalyst. If you look at the big platforms, they follow the mass market strategy, trying to have everything for everybody everywhere and competing for the market share by heavily relying on discounts and promotions. What we offer is a distinctive retail environment while acting as a differentiated communication platform to create, produce and amplify brand and product stories,” Musardo added.

LN-CC's Atrium space
LN-CC’s Atrium space

Founded in 2010 by John Skelton, LN-CC, which stands for Late Night Chameleon Café, was known for its forward-thinking selections and brand mix. Italian fashion and luxury e-tailer The Level Group bought LN-CC out of bankruptcy in 2014 and it has been investing heavily to help the retailer reach a younger global audience with its e-commerce business.

Musardo said Europe, including the U.K., and the U.S., represent one-third of the business, respectively, while Asia and the rest of the world make up the remainder of the business. He noted that major fashion capitals with a high percentage of young, fashion-forward consumers such as London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Seoul contribute to a considerable amount of revenue for LN-CC.

According to Musardo, Miu Miu, The Row, Moncler, Stussy, Rick Owens and Gallery Dept are some of the top-performing brands at the moment, as they all have their respective distinctive identity and follow a controlled distribution model.

Besides LN-CC, The Level Group also operates home decor specialist Frankbros, footwear label Scarosso and JJ Martin’s fashion and interior brand LaDoubleJ, and provides e-commerce solutions for brands like Ferrari, The Attico, Herno, and Casadei.

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