May 9, 2021

Putting the fun in functional: will Arket revitalise the high street?

Rather than fighting online retail, bricks-and-mortar stores are try to bring shopping to life – and H&M’s new brand is leading the way with a Nordic cafe and a haberdashery department

Walk through the door of Arket, the hotly anticipated fashion-and-lifestyle brand that opens its first store on Regent Street in London this Friday, and the first thing that strikes you is the generous expanse of empty space. The tables are laid with individual items, rather than stacked with teetering piles. (Further available colours are stacked unobtrusively in cubes, labelled by size.) The flecked floor resembles cobbles or gravel, while the cabinets and paintwork are in a soft cloud-grey that makes the building feel almost invisible from within. The effect is more like wandering through an open-air market than a fast-fashion hothouse.

Arket calls itself “a modern-day market”. This is not a reference only to the mix of clothes and homeware, of decorative and functional (department stores have been doing that for centuries), but also to the spirit of market shopping. No longer demoralised by the rise of online retail, the high street is on a mission to bring back the joys of the shopping trip.

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