There’s no doubt that restaurants and retail stores have born the brunt of the worldwide lockdown but in recent months, there has been a marked upswing of traffic – and in Sandton City, where Johannesburg’s glamazons tend to head on at least one day of the weekend, much of the footfall has been directed to ARC Store – the highly hyped beauty-focused hub that is enough to make any committed makeup and skincare devotee swoon with delight. Over 75 (and counting) cult international and local brands and products form the backbone of this groundbreaking retail space and judging by the reviews and the credit card swipes, its fulfilling a much-needed retail entertainment gap.
The shiny new store is gorgeous. Suitably polished and buzzing with people, it is a 500m² 21st century department store bursting with over-sized imagery, delicious product displays, moveable visual advertising feasts, weekend DJ’s and glossy posses of staff (sorry, ARCitects) ready to dive in and answer any of your questions across the board. This is retail reimagined – a celebration of the joy of browsing, a testament to just how much we love to shop in real life (and how much we’ve missed it) and of course brand power. Many of the brands here are those we’ve been swooning over on Instagram for the past year – iconic makeup lines such as Huda Beauty (exclusive to ARC), Chanel and Dior of course, giants like La Mer and cult millennial Erborian which will hit shelves in October.
ARC Store hasn’t limited itself to international powerhouses only though – you’ll also find Stellenbosch-born Skoon and newly launched must have affordable (but no less lust worthy) skincare line Lelive there. This is the definitive A-Z of must-have skincare, makeup and beauty buys for men and women, curated and displayed for savvy shoppers who want to touch, smell and feel the merch.
While the store concept was in the pipeline before Covid hit the world, it’s clear how technology, social media trends and shifts in information consumption have shaped this deeply immersive retail experience. Live dems, entertaining showcases on screen, and scannable QR codes that take the shopper on a brand or product deep dive are all part of the experience. ARC Store plays host to brands that we’ve been drooling over on Tik Tok for months– and with borders closed it’s a definitive passport to owning a piece of the action without having to set foot out of the country. This is an absolutely recalibrated retail experience that looks set to cure some of our lockdown blues.
MEANINGFUL MAKEUP & BEAUTY
Much of the concept behind ARC Store is based on tapping into conscious consumerism – and a bold quest for zero waste. ARC chief executive Jamie Lane describes this new retail conversation as one that celebrates individuality and sustainability and a focus on ‘doing beauty better’. From the get go, it’s clear they have tapped into consumer expectations – plastic baskets and shoppers are a no-no, instead in their place are PET recycled shoppers, and if you opt not to use a bag, they’ll donate R5 to local tree-planting environmental organisation, Greenpop, on your behalf. Again, these kinds of plot twists tap into a global zeitgeist where consumers drive retail experiences.
ADDED VALUES R US
It was beauty pioneer Estée Lauder who began the timeless tradition of offering free samples to customers at department store counters. And the legacy has remained a foundation of the industry ever since. ARC embraces this heritage – with an unashamed modern twist. The store is awash with news and talk about what’s currently on offer – from free samples to complementary makeup palettes, cosmetic bags, skin mapping consults and makeup application demonstrations – there is a definitive buzz and excitement and a further testament to the brand’s overarching understanding that above all, customers seek out value as much as they do quality.
Another exciting element in this retail experience is just how many brands have minis for sale – smaller sized fragrances or products perfect for gym or travel. Think Ellis Brooklyn 30ml EDP Travel Spray, many of cult beauty brand Dermalogica’s products, MAC mini lipsticks and Bobbi Brown makeup palettes for touch ups on the run. Oh, and did we mention that there’s a Benefit Brow Bar? Once you’ve had your brows Benefitted, you won’t want to go anywhere else.
EXCLUSIVE TO ARC
Stepping into this gleaming world where the store’s ARCitects will tell you more if you like (choose a grey bag) or leave you alone to browse if you prefer (your bag of choice is black) is like joining a private member’s club – it’s just that everyone’s invited. Of course, the global giants of the beauty and fragrance industry are a signature (Tom Ford to the left, Ferragamo to the right), it’s just that the standoffish ‘you don’t belong here’ snobbery synonymous with dated department stores is gone. ARC is a meeting place, a selfie space, a show-me-what-you-bought space – a place where exclusivity and inclusivity go hand in hand – even the store’s Instagram feed is uncurated and agile – testament to the innate understanding that life is moving too fast to stick to one lane.
Life has been uncertain in so many ways for a while now, but spaces like ARC are indicative that a new way of the world is certainly on the cards, set to take us into exciting new retail realms. And we’re definitely here for the ride.
Visit ARC Sandton or online for a taste of this exciting new retail concept.
October: V&A Waterfront Cape Town
November: Menlyn, Pretoria, Tyger Valley, Cape Town.
Clicks ClubCard is an affiliate partner of ARC. Allowing ClubCard members to earn Cashback on their cards when they purchase from ARC (10% Cashback on first purchase. 6% for every purchase thereafter). DM/ML