If you aren’t seeking out the Off-White street fashion boutique, you might miss it. Although it is in the center of the high fashion district, it is hidden in a laneway at 101–1076 Alberni Street. This unusual choice mirrors the surprising juxtaposition of boldness and subtlety expressed through the Off-White brand.
Spanning two levels, it features 4,300 square feet of retail space. As you might imagine, the laneway location presented unique challenges and opportunities. At Mercury, we were excited to take on both.
Many retail fashion outlets have a very “finished” look—but that was not what Off-White was going for. As an urban fashion brand, the company wanted a look and feel that was raw, edgy, and industrial—yet also upscale, subtle, and nuanced.
Off-White commissioned an Italian firm to handle the layout and design, and a local group to deliver the materials. With its polished, filled and clear-coated concrete floor, and simple, streamlined, almost stark décor and lighting, the space captures the Off-White aesthetics through stylish yet functional minimalism.
Indeed, the simplicity of the design keeps the focus firmly on the company’s products. The bright colours of the merchandise really “pop” against the grey concrete backdrop.
Part of what made this project a joy to take on from a construction standpoint was the raw minimalism described above. Another aspect that really appealed to us was the unusual location.
The configuration and location of the building presented a couple of key challenges:
• The staircase
• Fire regulations
The two floors of the boutique were not originally connected. To solve that problem, we installed a large concrete staircase. Featuring a clear glass railing and LED lighting, it fits seamlessly into the minimalist look of the building and invites shoppers to move between the two floors with ease.
What is interesting about the boutique being in a laneway is that while it is a shop, functionally, it is also still a laneway. That means in terms of fire regulations, we had to add a large rolling fire shutter to the entire side of the building on the inside of the windows. It is an aspect of construction that most people will never notice, but it is of critical importance from both a safety and regulatory standpoint.
We had an amazing time collaborating with an international team to complete this project and are very proud of the final results. It is a beautiful modern structure that is unique amongst the varied styles of our commissions. Working on Off-White’s retail store allowed us to push ourselves in new directions and engineer solutions that are at once elegant and functional.