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Future of retail: five examples of storytelling done right

By FashionUnited


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Storytelling is a recurrent topic in the world of retail, especially when it comes to fashion. How to define the identity of your store or brand? How to present your store or brand in a way that matches its identity? How to tell an authentic story that consumers will identify with?

Trendwatchers Jan Agerink and Birgit Maas, from Dutch forecasting company Buro Jantrendman, answered these questions at the fashion trade fair Modefabriek, held in Amsterdam. Buro Jantrendman works with a number of prominent companies, including Hugo Boss and Fred de la Bretoniere. During their lecture, the duo highlighted several businesses which are nailing the art of storytelling. FashionUnited selected the five most interesting examples.


Patagonia is an American outdoor brand founded in 1973. Best known for its commitment to sustainability and the environment, the company prides itself in the quality of its products. A quick Internet search reveals merchants selling second hand Patagonia shirts from the brand’s early days, still in good condition.

Agerink and Maas pointed out that quality and sustainability are two messages that go hand in hand: high quality clothing lasts a long time, which leads consumers to buy less. In a world dominated by consumerism, that is a statement in itself, according to the trendwatchers.

The duo also praised Patagonia’s repair truck, which the brand drove across the United States to help its customers to repair their Patagonia pieces. The advertising campaign featured consumers talking about the sentimental value those items had for them. Is there a better way to advertise your product than having clients say how much it means to them?

Story New York

”We have the point of view of a magazine, change like a gallery and sell things like a store” -- this is how American retailer Story describes itself. Buro Jan Trendman mentioned Story as an example of innovative retail, as each visit to this shop in the heart of Manhattan offers a different experience.

Every few months, Story shuts its doors and goes through a complete renovation for a week, so everything looks different when it reopens. Both the collections and the interiors always follow a theme, which can vary from “love” to “disrupt” or “have fun”. The product offering also changes according to the theme: Story can offer lingerie and candles one time, and high tech gadgets at another time. You never know what you will find there.

Since its launch in 2011, Story has featured dozens of themes. The store, founded by Rachel Shechtman, often partners up with other brands, which can sponsor a theme or pay for its products to be featured. Shechtman organizes special events where companies can pitch themselves to work together with her on the next theme.


Founded in 1993 by brothers Markus and Daniel Freitag, this Swiss brand makes handbags from truck tarpaulin. Each bag is unique, due to the discoloration and damage suffered by the material over the years.

Five years ago, the brothers came up with the idea to make work pants for their employees which would be completely sustainable, degradable and fair trade. However, producing such pants proved to be more complicated than they thought. The search for suitable materials and suppliers was depicted in a mini-documentary, which shows the duo roaming through French farms and Italian factories. You can watch the trailer below.


Founded in 2010 in California, Everlane offers high-quality basics for an affordable price. It is one of the first companies to be completely transparent about its production process. For example, the brand is transparent about its pricing, revealing how the price of each product has been determined. Material costs, workforce costs, taxes… Everything is listed on their website. The company also publishes videos and photos of their daily work and the work of their suppliers. Everlane also organizes visits to its factories, so clients can see how products are made.


Rapha is a bicycle retailer founded in London in 2004, which has grown to be an international company with shops in four continents. Rapha calls itself a community and its stores are named “clubhouses”. Clubhouses sell not only bikes, but also clothing and accessories. In addition, the space features a café, so that shoppers can enjoy a sandwich and a cup of coffee. Bike aficionados can also take part in Rapha’s subscription plan, which grants them exclusive access to events and Rapha merchandise.

This article was originally published in Dutch at FashionUnited.nl. Translated by Marjorie Van Elven

Images: Freitag Facebook, Everlane website

Story New York