Space Studio's mission to save bewildered men from shopping trauma

Space Studio's mission to save bewildered men from shopping trauma
How Space Studio has reimagined Rembrandt and 3 Wise Men's retail flagship stores.

Space Studio has reimagined Rembrandt and 3 Wise Men's retail flagship stores with a smart modern twist.

Got a case of retail regret? At Rembrandt, according to the 'wife test', if she doesn't like it, you can return it within five days.

Space Studio, which recently refreshed the New Zealand menswear brand's flagship Sydney store, put a lot of thought into crafting an anxiety-free shopping experience.

Director Vee Kessner says they started with “beer and peanut” focus groups in an attempt to figure out what men were looking for. Based on the results, they designed an in-store fitout that offers guidance and reassurance at multiple points, from the 'wife test' plaques to carefully chosen displays that demonstrate how certain garments can be pulled together and worn.

Rembrandt is a brand with a strong history, one that's shifted from mostly manufacturing to include retailing, and Kessner says the new look communicates that classic elegance while adding a bit of humour into the conversation. Customer service is also a big part of the offering, with the idea that once you enter – "I'm going to have an interaction with someone, they're going to help me, and I'm going to be okay at the end."

The Sylvia Park store has also gotten a bit of a retouching, as has the Rembrandt presence in Smith & Caugheys, as it's a design that can be adapted to anything from a high street location to a mall.

Meanwhile, Space Studio has also been working with 3 Wise Men. Designer Dave Sweatman says the refurbished Newmarket store largely appeals to the younger businessman with its modular design and fixtures and making use of "good honest materials" such as wood, cork, and concrete.

Rather than enhanced notions of lifestyle and image, at 3 Wise Men, the focus is on the product, which is primarily shirts in an abundance of size, colour, and pattern.

Sweatman says 3 Wise Men's range includes "a hell of a lot of attention to detail", which as store designers, they took a cue from.

"We're just reflecting that. We thought about everything – there's nothing off the shelf in the whole store."

The merchandising systems are entirely bespoke and prototyped to be at just the right height and hold just the right amount of stock, while the dark shell and intense spot lighting allow small details to stand out. Likewise, the point of sale counter is constructed of black glass, and more or less "disappears" into the background during the transaction.

"I think the initial feeling you get when you walk into 3 Wise Men is a vast array of choice," Kessner says. "You browse through, come to the end and make a decision. It's a different conversation."