Among the New Zealand-exclusive brands at T Galleria by DFS are Bottega Venetta, Moncler, Burberry, Furla, MCM, Salvatore Ferragamo and SK-II. The company has occupied Custom House since 1997, but it began renovations a year to breathe new life into the space.
The renovated store will be launched with a special event today featuring highlights from New Zealand Fashion Week designers Wynn Hamlyn, Knuefermann, Kathryn Wilson, Stolen Girlfriends Club, Zambesi and local fashion designers Harman Grubiša, Maaike and Salasai, with a runway debut by Benjamin Alexander.
The building T Galleria by DFS occupies is an iconic one. It was built in 1889 as a trading house for import and export businesses. A competition was held to decide its design: entries came from firms in every major centre in New Zealand, but the winning design was submitted by Thomas Mahoney.
Mahoney’s design was roughly based on the Marshall and Snellgrove Department Store on London’s Oxford St. Upon completion, the New Zealand Herald praised Custom House as “the cheapest building of its class which has been erected in Auckland for some time past”.
“Retail renovations are always challenging yet exciting,” he says. “We had to meet our timelines whilst ensuring the store was open to our customers during renovations – all the while assuring that we continued to offer the luxurious and personalized retail experience that DFS is known for around the world. Also, restoring and renovating a historically significant building, which is recognized and loved by local residents, requires a very specific level of care and attention to detail.”
Asked what customers will notice first, Calzadilla talks us through their experience upon entering the store:
“Our iconic green doors will open up to unveil the store’s historical staircase, with a twist! Local artist Otis Frizzell has designed a unique and fun pop-art installation which will bring a whole new visual experience to customers over three months. The iconic staircase then leads customers into four floors that offer beautiful products from all five of our ‘pillars of luxury’ – fashion and accessories, beauty and fragrances, watches and jewelry, wines and spirits, and food and gifts.”
Besides preserving heritage features, DFS Group has also leveraged new technology and techniques such as AI and AR into the renovated store store. This technology is showcased during T Galleria by DFS’ annual “First Class Beauty” campaign, which is powered by a partnership with Chinese technology company Meitu. Calzadilla says that during August 28-31, this campaign will see customers at DFS’ Lip Bar at NZFW able to mix and match over 100 lipsticks from 20 brands virtually and instantly, or try on six of DFS’ make-up looks tailored to individual skin tones and face shapes.