Design showcase: Balabala to roll out new store format in China

Children's fashion retailer Balabala has introduced a new brand identity and store design with the opening of its latest branch, which is located in Wanda Plaza in Wuxi Huishan in China.

Design is by UK agency Dalziel & Pow. The new brand identity is bold and playful, as it seeks to reflect the brand's purpose and attitude. Balabala offers clothing that spans a market from newborns to young teens, with a focus on high quality and comfortable clothes that do not restrict children from playing.

Dalziel & Pow has worked with Balabala before, creating a 'Together we dream' brand vision that seeks to appeal to both children and their parents. The vision was inspired by the brand's products, which has found success through unexpected fashion pairings. This technique has been reflected in the store design language, which mixes patterned and plain finishes, hard and soft shapes, and reflective and matt materials.

The new brand identity has been created by using a circle and a rectangle, with the same shapes used on patterns and animations within the store, and even in the bespoke furniture and fittings. A new colour palette has been chosen to complement Balabala's signature yellow.

Products are displayed on fixture framed by grid panels – inspired by social media networks – that are installed throughout the store. These panels are mounted on wheels so that they can be moved and rotated, adding flexibility to the store interior and allowing it to be refreshed quickly to maintain customer interest.

Large circles are painted on the perimeter walls, contrasting with the grids and adding pops of colour. Balabala's signature yellow is applied to oversized fixing details to create a common thread through all displays.

Navigation though the store is helped by characterful signage, which includes the inventive names given to Balabala's fashion collections. Additional messages have been created to help the brand create more stories around its product benefits and features – these benefits had not previously been conveyed to shoppers in-store.

Shoppers are attracted into the store by large format screens which show constantly-updated footage from Balabala catwalk fashion shows and advertising campaigns. A central display table showcases the latest trends and ranges, with an emphasis on lifestyle appeal.

In the centre of the store is a feature called the Infinity Wardrobe. This is a 360 degree rotating display of outfits, which offers a mix and match approach to creating outfit combinations.

Service and fitting rooms are housed in a tall, yellow, circular framework that is clearly visible from around the store. The fixture turns trying on clothes into a fun family activity, in a bid to reflect the Balabala brand's extrovert personality. Cylinder-shaped changing pods are surrounded by seating and merchandise, with toys such as claw machines provided to entertain younger shoppers.

The Baby Department is at the back of the store. A calmer and cosier space that the rest of the store, this area features soft-felt panels and pastel colours, and family seating. Communications here tell the stories about issues such as the use of organic cotton in products. Private spaces are provided for feeding and changing babies.

The new store format is set to be rolled out to Balabala stores across China.

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