Saturday, May 12, 2012

Incredibly EPIC! Hollister and Gilly Hicks Flagships on Regent Street, London, Now Open!

London's buzzing for the biggest retail event in years!  |  (image source)
The season's hottest event...totally EPIC with a wave of cool! On Saturday, May 12 at 10:00, the hottest lifeguards and cute Gilly Hicks Girls swung doors to the highly anticipated Hollister and Gilly Hicks flagship stores on Regent Street in London! A landmark day, it marks the opening of the first international HCo EPIC flagship location and the opening of the world's first ever GH flagship. And after the opening of three furthermore Gilly locations across the metropolitan area, London is now the world's ground with the highest concentration of GH and overall Abercrombie & Fitch company stores! ...This is totally monumental!

Driven with FIERCE determination and confidence, Abercrombie & Fitch set out to extend its presence in London to an unprecedented scale, never done by the Company in any other global capital, as a reflection of it phenomenal success in the British market! At the center of its ambitious plans was the acquisition of the leasing contract for retail space at 83-97 Regent Street. The National Geographic Society, which opened its first store in 2008 at 83-97 Regent Street, vacated the space after it came to the conclusion that the 20,000 square feet (1,850+ square meters) was too much for it to continue operating. Considering that prime commercial space in London's West End rarely comes available, the placement of 83-97 Regent Street on the real estate market was like dropping bloody flesh in a pool of sharks! A&F joined the brawl of businesses battling for the lease, but, as typical, the FIERCE Fitch fighter was proclaimed the winner! The conclusion garnered attention by media sources within the retail and real estate sectors. As Property Week reported on 19 May 2011, "[Abercrombie & Fitch] is understood to have agreed to pay a significant premium..."

But what's so great about Regent Street?

Named after Prince Regent (King George IV of the United Kingdom), Regent Street was a part of the first planned development projects of London and was completed in 1825. Right from the start, the street was envisioned as a commercial thoroughfare and many of the original buildings lining the street were the creation of the notable architect John Nash. However, the structures Nash built were deemed unsuitable and questionably stable by the end of the century. Significant redevelopment work, supported by the Crown Estate, was undertaken between 1895 and 1927. (Today, the Crown Estate still maintains ownership of the majority of Regent Street). The street was a really, really lame place to shop until Apple decided to open its first store in the UK on Regent Street. The Apple Store is said to have revolutionized Regent Street because, after its opening, loads of other international popular brands began to line the street as well. Today, Regent Street is one of Europe's great shopping destinations.

As previously stated, the opening of the Hollister and Gilly Hicks shops became a strongly anticipated affair. That London would finally be getting an Hollister flagship store – after three years of paramount fanaticism for the SoCal-inspired brand – was huge news! Gilly Hicks was rumored to be opening her first flagship as well, but nothing was confirmed to the public until Spring 2012. Also, three other mall-based GH stores were also planned to open. All five locations were slated to open all in one day, as one great event, but the opening date, was not even decided upon until around late-March/ was finally released to the public on April 4. With awesome cheer and contagious smiles, some of A&F's hottest models, posing as the "hot lifeguards" finally strolled out on May 3, accompanied by fine Gilly Hicks Girls, to promote the opening to all of London-town!

The big day finally arrived to a massive reception of stoked fans and media crews! HCo EPIC in London and Gilly Hicks' intimate flagship opened doors! Loads of models then hopped onboard double-decker buses, plastered with ads for Gilly Hicks, to ride down across London to open shop to GH at Bentall Centre (Kingston-Upon-Thames), at Westfield Stratford City (Stratford), and at Bluewater (Greenhithe, Kent). Models also made their way to what was London's first ever Gilly Hicks at Westfield London mall! Down Undies were thrown out to the crowds from the buses and the first 200 fans at every location was given a free tee shirt of the event – an exclusive keepsake of another memorable event in the history of Abercrombie & Fitch!


The A&F Family across Greater London. Bullets may include more than one store.
Click on image to expand.
Image by Google Earth used here for illustrative purposes only.