40 years since they launched their first garments to the world, and 4 years in the making; Assos launch their first boutique store outside of their native lugano.
Sitting in one of the world’s most famous shopping districts, the new Assos concept store is situated on London’s Regent Street, designed by Ab Rodgers to immerse the rider in the full brand experience. Paying homage to the brands considerable history, whilst firmly looking to the future the store, with its floor to ceiling windows and wide open spaces, is a veritable cathedral to the Assos marque.
This opening marks the most recent stage for the Assos brand, and signals a new era for the company underfresh ownership by the American entrepreneur Phil Duff.
Duff, a married father of 3 daughters, makes it clear that his own family plays a part in the resurgence of the brand’s attention to female cyclists, and it’s both ethics and business sense which are helping to steer direction.
It’s fair to say that Assos branding has not always gone down well in the UK, and they’ve been criticised for their intentionally sexist approach to female riders, but talking with Phil it’s soon clear that there are changes afoot, the most obvious of which is the sponsorship of brand ambassador, and all-round badass, Juliet Elliot. But one swallow does not a summer make, and the proof will be in the pudding here, we will wait to see how the brand and its offerings evolve to better serve the female market.
Just 150 metres up the road is Lilywhites, the large-scale sports shop, with packed shelves and crowded aisles, not so for Assos. They have gone down a very minimalist route, looking to provide space for the garments to be viewed and appreciated, Rodgers likened the shopping experience to ‘marinating’ in the brand (you can bet that line will feature in every article about the shop!), with the shop being a “confluence of technology and aesthetics”.
Whilst the front of the building showcases the garments, it’s to the rear of the shop, past the coffee machine, that the real business of the store takes place.
Dubbed ‘the elipse’, Rodgers, and Assos, have developed a room where every garment is available to try on, putting comfort to the test on a static SRM bike, allowing riders the opportunity to check their garments in a realistic position. Whilst it may lack the climate controls of others, the ability to change positions and try on the full range of garments is certainly appreciated and will be a key attraction within the store – Assos say that booking slots are available every day so if you are heading in, a bit of advance planning will pay dividends!
For many cyclists a trip to the Assos shop may be a costly experience, the kit has always been unashamedly expensive, reflecting the science and technology behind the brand and its development. A pair of Assos bibs will be an extravagant luxury to many riders, but one that pays off over the following seasons, and the shopping experience here in Regents street is for both the fan and the consumer alike.
Assos is a brand that sells through their own channels and via third parties so it will be interesting to see how their partners respond to this venture, Assos themselves see the store as an opportunity for customers to try on kit, learn about the brand, and ultimately to spend their money with their local retailers. The store also offers the chance for retailers and distributors etc to see the range up close themselves, to have a chin wag with Assos staff and receive a little love.
Situated where it is, both Regents Street and London, it is clearly well-positioned for the growing sport of cycling, and will certainly attract fans through its doors. It’s a bold move, one which reflects the burgeoning popularity of the sport, and it’s hard to imagine a single-brand cycling clothing store opening up here even just a few years ago, but Assos have laid their marker down; the store is a bold statement, casting an eye to both heritage and the future glory of the brand.