By James Pheby
The Rolling Stones on Tuesday defied the gloom of the coronavirus outbreak to launch the band’s first flagship store in the heart of Swinging Sixties London.
“Why would you open a shop during a pandemic?” joked singer Mick Jagger in a video message released before the shop opened its doors to the public on Wednesday.
“It’s our eternal optimism,” he said.
In the current climate, face masks emblazoned with the band’s famous lips and tongue logo promise to be a best-seller.
The band’s branding features throughout the store on t-shirts, jackets, water bottles, notebooks, umbrellas and guitar picks for those hoping to emulate guitarist Keith Richards.
But the team behind the project hope that it will become more than just a shop.
“The product is dear to our hearts, but it is the experience that is just as important,” said David Boyne, managing director of Bravado, the merchandising arm of Universal Music.
A giant lips and tongue sculpture takes up the window display, beckoning passers-by on Carnaby Street, the epicentre of the capital’s explosion of music and fashion in the 1960s.
Giant screens inside broadcast high-definition footage of the band’s decades of live tours, while their biggest hits and blues classics provide the soundtrack for shoppers.
Jointly curated by the Stones and Bravado, the decor stays loyal to the band’s red and black brand, while a glass floor, featuring Stones lyrics, provides a view to the basement floor.
“That experiential element was really important to us,” explained Boyne.
“My favourite space is downstairs, the sound room, with the insulated red panelling and the super-red neon light.
“It’s just a great spot and great for that Instagram moment.”
TEXTILES ON MAIN STREET
Jagger recalled how the band used to visit Carnaby Street before it became associated with London’s 1960s music scene including The Who and David Bowie.
“We used to work around there, we rehearsed there, we used to eat near there. It’s not a bad place to have a shop,” he added.
Shoppers have deserted central London since Britain locked down in March, but the owners hope their high-profile store will help boost the area.
“It’s a super-positive message both for Carnaby Street and the Rolling Stones,” said Boyne.
“I’ve spoken to people in the world of retail and Carnaby Street who think what we are doing is incredible and will give a great boost to the retail landscape.”