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Launching in a pandemic: Papinelle opens in Commercial Bay


Despite almost ten months of delays, and being surrounded by an unusual moment in retail, Papinelle has launched its second New Zealand store in Commercial Bay. 

According to Papinelle co-owner Nicki Kelly, the store was initially supposed to launch in September 2019, but delays on the project pushed it back to March 2020. 

“Then COVID-19 hit, so it was delayed again – we were all set to take the keys the week before the pandemic,” Kelly told Inside Retail.

“It was a very stressful period not knowing what was going to happen with retail doors shutting for 2 months. We’ve now finally opened and it was well and truly worth the wait.”

The store was co-designed with Auckland agency The Wonder Group, which specialises in crafting ‘immersive spaces’ – something that Kelly acknowledges has become necessary in bricks-and-mortar retail with the growing presence of e-commerce.

Fitout, colour palette, merchandising, music and even smell were carefully selected to ensure customers have a reason to spend time in the store, and come back. 

“To survive retail now you must have a presence that is memorable and creates a beautiful lasting emotion. Our customers are our everything and we make sure they are treated that way,” Kelly said. 

“We’re a sleep and loungewear store, so when you walk in you are immediately calm and feel surrounded by beauty.”

Source: Supplied

In order to achieve this the store is fitted out with brushed brass, aged glass, soft-pink plaster and a high-gloss lacquer to create the “dream-like” world Papinelle inspires.

“At every turn there’s a mix of raw versus glossy, old versus new, wet versus dry to bring an easy form of maximalist minimalism. It’s familiar, soft, edgy, and visually beautiful,” Kelly said. 

“Our product is feminine, luxurious and always beautiful, [and] the fit-out is the same. We use soft colours, curves and fixtures so our product can easily be seen and our customers can feel welcomed and relaxed while spending time with us.”

Additional reporting by Jo-Anne Hui-Miller. 

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