superchat amsterdam: theodoor kuster

© the pelican studio / photography: ady van de plas

hailing from a small village in the largely rural eastern netherlands, theodoor kuster’s innate sense of style guided him – albeit by a meandering trajectory of many stints – to his current position as amsterdam’s serial retailer to watch. as the ambitious founder of the pelican studio, a newly launched retail concept he runs in the city’s canal district, kuster's distinct view on retail is paired with a solid dose of ambition. and so much so, we see him as a budding and force to be reckoned with in this specific field of expertise. the young retailer managed to strike an interesting deal with a real estate tycoon, and it’s one that will see a gradual transformation of a landmark stretch of raadhuisstraat, a bustling yet bland downtown thoroughfare, into a meticulously curated shopping zone. superfuture sat down with kuster to see what he's got up his sleeve.

the pelican studio clearly is the most ambitious retail project you and jelle have embarked upon. what exactly is good retail to you? that would be a formula which makes perfect sense in terms of atmosphere, a coherence of brands, staff and the service they provide, and if you ask me, even the soundtrack would have to be on point. i truly believe in the art of selling, today’s customer needs to feel a personal connection when they’re served. staff has to be likeable and go the extra yard. they’re pretty vital in the big picture that’s called retail, and i should add that good staff is pretty rare. they don’t necessarily have to like all brand’s they’re selling, but they have to know it inside out and be passionate about what they do. oh, and having a personal taste surely helps. i personally think it’s inspiring to connect with someone who oozes personality through his or her taste.

you started out as a sales agens, managing a fashion wholesale business. how did the transition to retail come about? well, both jelle and i have worked as a sales associate myself in the past, and when i crossed over to fashion wholesale i got to see lots of it from a new angle. both experiences pretty much shaped our perception of retail. mind you, i’ve seen my fair share of bad examples, and i simply felt i could do it better, so becoming a retailer myself just came naturally. as you know, i started out setting up shop with a business parter here in amsterdam for velour, which initially was one of our accounts.

you have taken on the highly ambitious plan to transform raadhuisstraat. could you elaborate a bit more on the plans you have? it so happened that i first came across location of the pelican studio four-and-a-half years ago, and i instantly fell for the storied grandeur of the place. actually, i consider a store’s location the very base of a good retail formula. but sadly, i couldn’t come to an agreement with the owner, who at the time, wanted to redevelop this chunk of real estate by way of an austere marketing plan. later on, i heard of a friend and fellow retailer’s intentions to set up shop here, but as he eventually grew anxious to go ahead with the plan, i stepped in and took over altogether. it was then that i decided to drop the existing interior design plan and come up with a concept of our own.

i wanted a fresh, colourful aesthetic, and a design that would additionally ooze a certain distinction. it's pretty much a u-turn from the heritage trend with exposed bricks and vintage knick-knacks i’ve come to across way too often in the recent past. i collaborated with amsterdam-based practice framework studio, and as you can see, the result is infused with pastel colours, reminiscent of the 1980s tv hit series miami vice. mind you, i'm far from having achieved what i’ve set out to do – well, let’s say i’ve achieved about 70% of our plan – but crafting a good retail formula not only takes time, but also proper funds. but i’ll get there sooner or later. the success of the pelican studio will also be determined by a well-balanced mix of brands, and there’s room for improvement in that department.

i’m very picky and would love to expand more to high-end labels. being able to stock a renowned brand such as dries van noten is the level of retail i strive for. i initially wanted to include the hotel upstairs in my business plan, but unfortunately that proved to be financially unfeasible. well, for now that is. just imagine, having the store also serve as the hotel lobby! it wouldn’t just be a cool formula, i’m positive i could’ve pulled it off! as you know, amsterdam’s hospitality scene is booming right now and a hotel/store concept would’ve been a welcome addition.

the suit store which has also opened next door is one of the other initiatives, and was followed up by a boutique of another danish brand, won hundred. but other than these stores, i can’t confirm any additional launches just yet. i’ve been in talks with an antwerp-based jewellery brand, but i'm also eyeing an amazing cosmetics brand such as aesop. throwing a great hairdresser or a florist into the mix would also be great. the retail mix shouldn’t be comprise entirely of fashion boutiques, but one thing is sure, each new business should add to the unique shopping experience that i envision for this stretch of raadhuisstraat.

what is the profile of the pelican studio's customer, who do you cater to? i'd say fashion-savvy and with some cash to burn. i like to see shoppers in here who know what they like and know about brands as well. i love it when people come in who demonstrate an effortless personal style – it doesn’t necessarily have to suit mine though! – and i don’t have a specific age group in mind, that’s pretty irrelevant to me. as for the brands we carry, we not only took over the operations of the aforementioned fellow retailer, but also his portfolio of brands. luckily, most i like, and it’s a good base, but now i need to build it up. we have to take a close look at the type of customer that drops by and see which labels suit their taste as i do have to think of generating a healthy turnover. but on the other hand, i’d like to expand our merchandise and hope to be able to stock quirkier pieces and embark on a trajectory that sets us apart as a store. 

apart from denim, the dutch aren't particularly know for their fashion sense. what's your take on the local fashion sensibility? quite okay, actually. i see people’s style improving. thankfully, the all-black layered look is fading – i’m so done with it! – and when looking around here in town, it’s not that bad. but i do believe dutch women could step it up a little, and make more of an effort. generally, they look somewhat boring and need to peek at how their parisian counterparts emphasize elegance and femininity in the way they dress. i Iove that!

amsterdam's retail arena has gone leaps and bounds in recent years. how would you compare it with leaading shopping destinations such as london, paris or even berlin? it’s heading in the right direction, although we’re still lagging far behind the offerings in london and paris, for sure, but also in comparison to a city like berlin. there’s a lot happening here in terms of streetwear and denim, but in the high-end segment there’s plenty of room for improvement, and jelle and i hope the pelican studio can contribute in that respect. i'd love to stock unexpected brands, but we simply need to make one step at a time. you know, i think i have a pretty good chance to pull it off!

any particular spots in town you where you like to hanging out and love to share? basically, anywhere with a good vibe. places such as buffet van odette and rijsel, two of my fave restaurants, are managed by passionate people who have a clear vision, and who know what it takes to create a unique and successful business. 

taipei: citizenm hotel opening

© citizenm

citizenm has made its hotly anticipated foray into the far east, opening a towering property on the doorstep of ximendeng, a bustling area of taipei known for its appealing nightlife and shopping infrastructure.  called citizenm taipei north gate – it's named after a nearby city gate from the qing dynasty – it features 267 rooms spread across 26 floors, and occupying such a tall structure, many of these pads obviously offer sweeping views of this bustling city. the hospitality format and interior design, created by amsterdam-based practice concrete, is similar to the hotel chain's properties across europe and new york city, featuring design-infused rooms, public spaces and facilities that streer clear from traditional hospitality, and effortlessly evoke a happy vibe.

all rooms come with a set of amenities that ensure a comfortable stay, including a comfy kingsize bed, a wall-mounted smart tv, a power shower, and last but not least, complimentary wifi, and all easily managed by way of an in-room tablet. the traditional lobby has been ditched for a living room dotted with stylish vitra furniture pieces, a signature citizenm cabinet brimming with books, souvenirs and a collection of artworks, including pieces by leading taiwanese artists, creating a welcoming, homey environment where to relax, mingle with other guests, or instead be diligent and get some work done. each citizenm property aims to reflect local culture, and this new outpost is no exception.

this is immediately evident at the entrance where an exterior wall, featuring a colourful anime and pop culture-inspired artwork by graffiti artist ano. seamlessly embedded in the living room is the 24-hour canteenm, a self-service restaurant where to take breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a light snack, or have some downtime over coffee, a cocktail, or when the occasion calls for it, a glass of bubbly, all served by trained baristas and mixologists. as said, citizenm taipei north gate is ideally situated, providing easy access to taipei main station, an important railway and subway hub with direct connections to other parts of the city and taoyuan international airportlocation: no. 3, section 1, zhonghua road [zhongzheng].

© citizenm

hong kong: ami tricycle

© i.t

as one of the premier shopping destinations in all of asia, hong kong is blessed with an excellent retail infrastructure, and as such also an uner-relevant platform for continuous brand activation. well, that's exactly what designer alexandre mattiussi's already highly successful label ami is up to. launching today at fashion walk, a cluster of popular shopping streets in the city's causeway bay area, is the brand's promo event which sees an antique roofed tricycle, appropriately fitted out in the brand's colours, cruising the neighbourhood at low speed on specific days [today at noon-2pm, and on sep 23, 24 and 30 and oct 1 and 2 at 2pm-4pm], packed with little ami gifts for the local fanbase. all you have to do is take a snapshot of the tricycle or show any purchased item of the ami a/w 2017 collection, and upload it to your instagram account, mentioning the handles @ithk, @amiparis and hashtag #amihongkong. the gifts can range from hkd 100 ami cash coupons and tote bags, to tasty croissants, frozen chocolate, in addition to the brand's seasonal newspaper and cool suede stickers. location: fashion walk, great george street, paterson street, kingston street and cleveland street [causeway bay].

© i.t

bologna: fr boutique opening

© fr boutique

it's the first time ever that bologna has appeared on our radar, and it's for a good reason. nestled deep in the historic heart of this italian city, a recently opened, splendorous retail space raises the bar in luxury shopping for the entire emilia romagna region and beyond. it's called fr boutique, and is a collab effort of folli follie and ratti, two family-run businesses that have dominated this neck of the woods for two decades with a broad palette of high-end offerings. the initiative aims to provide next level shopping by not only providing the goods, but also a matching environment, one that's easy on the eye and incites to splurge.

the location, folli follie's original boutique on via clavature, a prominent pedestrian thoroughfare, has been transformed into a statement flagship store, courtesy of italian architect roberto baciocchi. the premises, measuring over 1,000 sqm. [10,764 sq.ft.], features a number of interconnected spaces, some with awe-inspiring lofty ceilings, and has two separate entrances for both the men's and women's sections. the design objective has been to create alluring spaces, but with an inviting, homey feel at the same time. the interior design makes clever use of the buildings' exceptional proportions, inspiring the architect to use a rich palette of materials and an equally diverse range of custom-made furnishings and fixtures.

fr boutique targets an in-the-know clientele, but one of all ages, including the most challenging demographic of all: finicky millennials. now more than ever, the combined store has all it takes – including the prerequisite, non-intrusive top service that defines many a leading store – to seal the deal with any client that walks in. the brand list is lengthy and varied, featuring a well-balanced mix of both luxury brands and leading names in streetwear, and not surprisingly, it reads like a who's who in the world of fashion, including names such as dolce & gabbana, nike, pleats please issey miyake, prada, and dior, which by the way, has been given a dedicated room on the premises. location: via clavature 15 [centro storico].

© fr boutique

amsterdam: masculinities

© barrie hullegie

launched only five years ago, the unseen fair's focus on what's new in photography and stir up a debate on visual aesthetics, has resonated well with professionals and aficionados alike. the event's upcoming edition, featuring over 50 galleries from around the planet, is once again held at amsterdam's westergasfabriek. the event's official programme includes lectures, an innovation platform and a book market, but also a string of interesting exhibitions and presentations across town. in the latter category falls masculinities, a showcase of photographs shot by barrie hullegie in collab with local creative studio glamcult. the works are on display at de school – a buzzing cultural hub tucked away in emerging suburban surrounds – on sep 22-24 [fri-sat 12pm-7pm + sun 12pm-5pm]. as the title already implies, it presents photos inspired by hullegie's fascination of the male coming of age, and captured from different angles and perspectives. location: de school, van breemenstraat 1a [de baarsjes].

© barrie hullegie

new york: maison kitsuné store relocation

© maison kitsuné

maison kitsuné previously operated stores at ace hotel and on rivington street, but now a new single shop has opened in soho, one of new york city's leading shopping districts. the paris-based brand secured a 1,400 sq.ft. [approx. 130 sqm.] retail space on the ground floor of a six-storey red brick structure built in 1900. the shop façade, along with the interior design, has been created by french designer mathieu lehanneur, and beautifully matches the building's architectural style. inside, shoppers find themselves in a setting of whitewashed walls with whimsical trompe-l’œil and french door moulding, stone flooring, and arguably the most striking feature, meandering bichromated steel tubes applied as clothing racks, light fixtures, furnishing, or as merely a decorative design element. additional furnishings include sleek metal shelving, upholstered ottomans, stone displays and lush potted plants. the new maison kitsuné store stocks the brand's full range of men's and women's apparel, accessories, shoes, and denim pieces, in addition to an exclusive capsule collection with the new yorkais slogan. location: 248 lafayette street [soho].

© maison kitsuné

london: dsm x london fashion week

© dover street market

london fashion week's newest edition has just kicked off and the dover street market store eagerly anticipates the event with a string of special installations and product launches across all floors. just recently, comme des garçons parfum reintroduced andy warhol's you're in, the iconic artist's scandalous original fragrance from 1967. originally, it consisted of coke bottles spray-painted silver and filled with a citrus scent, but now it comes in six unique matte silver industrial bottles, each featuring bold graphics inspired by the master and a different whimsical quote by the master himself. oh, and the fragrance? it's inspired by the original alright, but now boasts bitter orange, aldehydes and makrut lime zest as top notes, and jasmine, coriander leaf and pittosporum as middle notes.

legendary stylist and designer judy blame is present, showcasing jewellery pieces, t-shirts and accessories with an installation at the store's golden room, while a few steps away roberts | woods, the luxury concept brand by royal college of art graduate katie roberts-wood presents her without bound, without dimension installation with designs from her eponymous s/s 2018 collection. as an exclusive to the store, this year's lvmh prize winner marine serre presents her graduate collection radical for love in an installation on the first floor. other presentations and product launches at dover street market during fashion week include dsm x vans checkerboard, jijibaba, mademe x x-girl, loewe, and paul smith. location: 18-22 haymarket [st. james's].

© dover street market

jerusalem: villa brown hotel opening

© brown hotels / photography: assaf pinchuk

despite its historic splendour, jerusalem has long been overshadowed by its rambunctious and fast-paced neighbour tel aviv, but the city has evolved in recent years, flaunting a contemporary side that ticks all our boxes. the villa brown hotel, a boutique property which opened in the historic old city centre a little while ago, adds up to a modern urban lifestyle with its design-led hospitality concept. the hotel occupies a meticulously restored 19th century villa in the heart of town, featuring 24 lavishly appointed guestrooms and suites. the project was supervised by local architects galit shifman bar-natan and michal cohen magen who also seamlessly added two new floors, including a rooftop terrace with lovely views of the neighbourhood.

property owner brown hotels from tel aviv obviously honoured the building's original architectural features, but has blended ottoman and some eclectic design elements into the interior design, and resulting in a series of exuberant settings that subtly touch upon the mystique of the middle east. as said, villa brown spices up the local scene, and does so with a tempting set of facilities for guests and visitors alike, including a garden bistro-café, rooftop spa and terrace, meeting room, lobby library, and last but not least, a unique underground cave bar, situated at the old water well underneath the house. location: 54 rechov ha'neviim [downtown].

© brown hotels / photography: assaf pinchuk

paris: irving penn

© condé nast / irving penn – girl with tobacco on tongue (mary jane russell), new york [1951]

following last year's hugely successful showcase at the metropolitan museum in new york city, marking the 100th anniversary of his birth, the elaborate restrospective of photographer irving penn [1917-2009] has jumped the big pond for a second edition in paris. opening on the landmark premises of grand palais on thu – sep 21, it's the first major retrospective of the legendary lensman since he passed away a few years ago, and is co-curated by maria morris hambourg, an independent curator and founding curator of the museum’s department of photographs, and jeff rosenheim, curator in charge of the aforementioned department of photographs.

the show explores penn's stellar 70-year carreer, presenting more than 235 photographic prints, all produced by the artist himself, as well as a selection of his drawings and paintings. as such, it offers a comprehensive vision of the range of genres he worked in: fashion, still life, portraits, nudes, beauty, cigarettes and debris. the original theater curtain backdrop that penn acquired in the french capital in 1950 and used for all of his small trades photographs will be included in the installation, along with two of his cameras. the traveling exhibition's next stops will be berlin and são paulo in the course of next year. location: grand palais, 3 avenue du général eisenhower [champs-élysées].

© the irving penn foundation / irving penn – mouth (for l'oréal), new york [1986]

berlin: comme des garçons store renewal

© comme des garçons / photography: gregor hohenberg

the comme des garçons pocket and black comme des garcons stores in berlin have been around for a little while – five-and-a-half years to be precise – and their shared premises on the ground floor of a late 19th century building in the mitte district have recently been given an upgrade, resulting in a single retail concept under the moniker comme des garçons. the transformation comes with a brand new interior, concocted by the brand's elusive creative honcho rei kawakubo. the interior is largely defined by whitewashed walls, black linoleum flooring, and scaffolding-like metal frames are installed across the retail space, serving both as an optical embellishment of sorts, and attaching clothing racks wherever needed.

mosaics of wall-mounted shelving in different sections offers ample space to present smaller goods. only the front section of the store flaunts a deviating aesthetic, featuring two transparent and dotted arches, a signature motif that's inextricably connected to the comme des garçons pocket collection. given the transformation into a comme des garçons store, it now stocks an extended range of lines, including comme des garçons comme des garçons, comme des garçons shirt, comme des garçons shirt boys, comme des garçons black, play comme des garçons, comme des garçons parfum, comme des garçons wallets, and gosha rubchinskiy. location: linienstrasse 115 [mitte].

© comme des garçons / photography: gregor hohenberg