Nixon move their watches to London with a new flagship store in Carnaby, the capital’s coolest shopping destination
Founded in 1998 in California, Nixon is where the cool kids get their watches. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the brand has just opened a new flagship store in one of the world’s most influential cities: London. Featuring a customisaton bar where disciples can create their own one-of-a-kind timepieces, it’s set to be a destination store. We caught up with the brand to find out what makes them tick.
Why have you now chosen to tackle the London market, why not sooner?
We’ve had a presence in the UK and London for a long time, in smaller boutiques and skate and surf destinations as well as great retailers like Selfridges, Conran and Harvey Nichols. I joined Nixon a year ago and it was clear that we could do more in London, and we wanted to do it quickly, so we decided a store was the best way to really give people a full experience of the brand. London’s the best fashion and design market in the world and an amazing place to try some new things at retail: open merchandising that takes our watches out from under glass; our sneaker-inspired watch wall; and a custom bar to create one-of-a-kind product. We’re building out our product range and investing more in the brand, so it’s natural for us to look for destinations where you can experience more of what we’re doing—and retailers can see what we’re capable of and perhaps try on some of the experience for size.
Why Carnaby Street
SoHo and the Carnaby area are an amazing fit for Nixon. The retail and the community are design driven, style savvy, and curious about the new—Nixon brings a different point of view and I think they’ll enjoy that. As a brand we’re not Swiss luxury, and we’re not a shallow fast-fashion brand; we’re an authentic California brand rooted in skate, surf and snow but with an urban and city sophistication that I think fits well in Carnaby. We’ve got some great retail neighbours on Newburgh Street, brands we love and we’re super excited to be in that mix. And commercially, it’s a destination that draws not just Londoners but a far-flung crowd, and we like that diversity.
The new London store boasts to offer some innovative display techniques which look amazing, how do you expect customers will react to this?
I think they’re going to be stoked about it! Watches have been sold in the same unhelpful way for years, someone needed to get a little more democratic and inviting and set them free. We’ve decided to merchandise our watches out in the open, not under glass: customers can touch and feel, try them on, really interact with the product. Why put watches under glass and create a barrier and an intimidating experience when we can let you engage with them in a way that respects you and treats you like an adult? We’re not Swiss, so why behave like a Swiss watch company? The fixtures in the store are about us having some fun. The Swiss are brown shoes; we’re sneakers. And the open merchandising, the wave-inspired watch table, the sneaker-inspired watch wall reflect that.
Were there any difficulties in adapting Nixon for the London audience?
Not really. Although we’re rooted in California, our product perspective is pretty broad and translates well around the world. We’ve had London consumers for a long time, and our ecommerce businesses in the UK is great and has given us some real insights into what London consumers want. So we’ve adapted around that but also put in some things that are a little different to give people a great introduction to Nixon.
Nixon is known for its diverse range of watches as seen in your ‘Horizon’ collection, will you be designing any products specifically based for the new London store?
For sure. We’ll do some limited and custom products, and we’ll also do some collaborations with friends of the brand from London. Our stores give us an opportunity to do some different things compared to what we can do with most of our retail partners, so we’ll have some fun.
Tell us about your customisation bar…
We’ve always designed every product as a custom product: each model is built from the ground up, everything crafted just for that specific model. So doing individual custom pieces wasn’t really that much of a leap, we just hadn’t had a venue to do it before. We think we’ve created something that is a great retail experience and one that let’s people really engage with the brand. You get to tell us what inspires you, your style, and we walk through some different, curated options: what model, what case, what finish, face, crown, band. In London and in Paris we’ve got custom bar “baristas” who are deep into our watches and they’ll help you through the process. We then build the watch in the store. You get to custom engrave the caseback, and walk out with a one-of-a-kind piece that represents your style, is very personal and makes exactly the statement you want to make. It’s super fun.
What do you hope to achieve for the brand by establishing yourself in London and Paris?
It’s about getting introduced to consumers in those cities in a bigger but more personal way, and it’s also about trying some new retail ideas for Nixon. We’ll learn a lot, about what the different consumers want and also about how the retail concepts work, what we should amplify and build on. It’s also great for retailers to get a better and more up-to-date look at Nixon, see us in action, and see a broader representation of the brand, on our terms.
Do you have plans to tackle other big cities?
For sure. The goal isn’t to shift the business to a retail-centric model, but we think that having a retail presence in key cities helps us showcase the brand to consumers, and to retailers, with a more complete presentation. We are looking at other locations in Europe as well as in the US, and we have retail locations underway in Hong Kong, Melbourne and Sydney. We already have great businesses in those locations so it’s about going deeper and taking the brand to the next level. We’re super busy but we’re stoked!