From online to offline, from virtual to reality - that was the story of Afura Store based in Amsterdam. What has once started as an online shop, as something the founders wanted to do on their own, next to their studies 5 years ago, has been resulted in a menswear store at the edge of Vondel Park in Amsterdam, opened in April 2016. On a total space of 52 square meters the location presents brands and designer such as Harmony, Soulland Han Kjobenhavn or Stutterheim. Design-wise the place follows, according to its assortment, clear lines and natural materials. “Starting as an online shop we had the desire to translate the webdesign in to the store space as well. Meaning we wanted to have a clean store that used natural materials like White Oak”, founder Len Koster explains. Learn here more about Afura’s concept, the biggest challenge in retailing and the five products Len couldn’t live without right now.
Why did you open your store? Tells us the story and your motivation!
When we launched the online store 5 years ago it was actually us starting something of our own next to our studies. We did not have any experience in (online) retail but we have come a long way. The last two to three years have been great for us and allowed us to grow online.
What is important for you in terms of shop fitting and store design?
Starting as an online store we had the desire to translate the webdesign in to the store space as well. Meaning we wanted to have a clean store that used natural materials like White Oak. The room for display was an important factor as well, and we will continue to change the window installation every now and than to showcase a different brand.
What are the anchor brands? Which brands have you recently added to the assortment?
The anchor brands that we are happy to work with for a while now are Harmony, Soulland, Han Kjøbanhavn and Vans. For next season we are happy to introduce Stutterheim Raincoats, Aspesi and Capital Goods.
What are five products you couldn’t live without right now?
Ha, good question. Let’s see:
* Harmony Magnus Coat in Khaki
* Soulland Eclipse Hoodie in White
* Han Kjøbenhavn Drop Crotch Denim in Heavy Stone
* Harmony Peter Trousers in Dark Grey Wool
* Vans Old Skool in Black
Which fairs do you visit? Or do you only order at showrooms? Where do you inform yourself about trends?
Most of our brands prefer to have private showrooms rather than a booth at the fairs. However we visit Copenhagen and Paris every season for our appointments and shows. We regularly visit MAN, Ciff, Revolver and Capsule.
Did your store’s sales increase or decrease over last year? To what do you attribute your gain or loss in sales?
We only opened up the store two month ago so I can’t really speak on the Brick & Mortar store, but online we have definitely grown in sales. We thank our marketing and social media activities for that as well as growth on SEO and of course our selection of products.
You also operate an online shop. What percentage of your sales are from online business compared to your brick-and-mortar sales?
Hard to say at this point – but online should and will be our main business as always.
What makes your store different and in what ways does your store excel when compared to your competition?
The area we are located in does not have a lot of stores like us, they are usually more located towards the center. We benefit from that to our local customers. The area is great and rising and has a steady influx of new ventures already. How we are different is mainly that we are completely independent. We can do as we wish and the customer notices this in our carefully curated selection of items and brands.
How do you stay in touch with the wants and needs of your customers?
As active Social Media users ourselves we follow a lot of relevant people and upcoming brands. This way we can interact and act on new ones as well.
Besides that we actively search for new brands ourselves as well, this is also where trade shows come in handy as all the people are coming together here.
Is there a kind of model store for you? Some shop (worldwide), which inspires you?
We have high respect for Dover Street Market and Good Hood. The way they are able to transfer their vision and ideas into the stores is great. Their displays are always on point.
What is the biggest challenge for retailing right now?
Surviving. It’s a competitive landscape and there’s a lot happening always. You have to stay on top of your game and keep delivering to your ever-demanding customer. Which we aim to do on a daily basis.
Jan Pieter Heijestraat 164
1054 ML, Amsterdam