The flagship store has evolved from a high-exclusive place into a dynamic shopping retail experience right at the customer’s disposal. A flagship store is a communication statement, an experiential invitation that blends sensations and commerce.

The store for the fashion industry is like the studio for a fashion designer, irreplaceable. The international retail landscape has changed for several brands in all fashion segments. Despite the e-commerce success, the store is the ultimate place where brand and customer converge; a commercial arena where product, perceptions, emotions, and customer satisfaction are being played. 

The flagship store can enhance the brand image and provide valuable communication impact. An effective flagship store attracts new customers and keeps the current loyal ones hooked to the brand. The aim of a flagship store is to stimulate the emotional sensations and physical attributes that the brand possesses and showcase them to the customer. 

According to Kozinetz et al., three main characteristics can define a flagship store: 

  1. They carry only a single brand of product (although this may not be completely accurate as different brand lines can coexist in a flagship).
  2. They are company-owned.
  3. They operate intending to build brand image rather than solely to generate profit for the company. 


Luxury companies usually establish flagship stores as an instrument to present a consistent brand identity regardless of the country or the cultural context. 

Flagship stores have a strategic purpose, and some of their characteristics surpass the three previous assumptions. 

To be present in an international location does not translate exactly on having “a flagship” store, to be considered one, it has to meet some requirements, such as dimension, they usually are bigger than the regular stores; relevance, they have to be established in a booming economic market; and grander design a design-by-who quality with star architects and interior design studios.

The strategic significance of the flagship store within an international context can be categorized as a market entry method; a conduit and support for partner relationships; as the focus for marketing communications; as a blueprint for store development. 

Authors Sabbadin and Aiolfi in, The Strategic Evolution of Fashion Flagship Stores, have identified the following classification system for the flagship stores: 


  1. Epicenters 
  2. Headquarter flagship stores 
  3. Media flagship stores 
  4. Mega-flagship stores 
  5. Flagship stores with services and facilities 


According to the authors, new flagship brand stores are a “container for the value system carried by the brand whereby the consumer can experience the brand in direct contact through several senses by visiting the “possible world”. Flagship brand stores have become the incarnation of brand image, and they are taken over by the “world of the brand”, and become a concrete symbol.

For some luxury brands, flagships have become part of the brand essence and identity, as the specific location has shown how customers have come to understand the brand. 

Prada’s SoHo Epicenter in New York City is a perfect example of brand identity incarnation in a space that broke all retail rules back in 2001 and it is still doing it today. 

The spectacular design by Rem Koolhaas- OMA Studio features a zebra wood wave that undulates from street level to the floor below, motorized hanging display cages that travel on tracks in the ceiling, and a flip-out stage for special events. The design was an immediate sensation and remains one of the most successful of all contemporary Prada stores worldwide as an “exclusive boutique, a public space, a gallery, a performance space, a laboratory”. 

Integrating a flagship store into your retail strategy can help any brand boost its core brand values and increase its brand positioning. 

The flagship store or a concept boutique needs a high-detailed visual merchandising and decoration strategy, as the store atmosphere is crucial to enhance fashion collections or lifestyle objects and furniture. 

Consumers when shopping are looking for entertainment, and at the same time, want clear information about the brand processes, products, and intangible values attached to the whole experience. The flagship store is the perfect outlet for brands to act. 

For medium-range brands, even the most fashionable ones, to be able to have a flagship store into their retail network strategy is a great investment, but in the long term, it is profitable since it works as a strategy of communication and advertising. 

A boutique or small concept store can build and increase your brand reputation, perhaps without star architects and prime locations, but with care and dedication to please the customers and position the brand in the market and -most importantly- inside the heart of your desired clientele.