Online brands prioritising their physical retail presence in 2022

2nd February 2022 |

Experts are saying there has never been a better time to open a new store. Even considering the initial impact of the pandemic on the retail industry, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Reduction in commercial rent prices is providing brands with the perfect opportunity to either open their first store or expand their enterprise into new locations. In addition, landlords and agents have become less restrictive about short-term leases, allowing brands to experiment with physical retail in the form of pop-up shops.

Here, we will take a look at some of the biggest, previously online-only brands that are using this opportunity and showing us that physical retail is a core part of their 2022 growth strategy.


Founded in 2012 from the bedroom of CEO Ben Francis, Gymshark has made a huge impact in the world of fitness apparel and supplements over the last decade, having been valued at over £1 billion in 2020. The digital-native brand’s rise to success is largely thanks to its savvy use of social media and influencer marketing.

Having successfully experimented with pop-up shops, including their first pop-up in Covent Garden in 2020, Gymshark has recently announced that they will be opening their first permanent brick and mortar store on Regent Street in summer 2022. By signing a 10-year lease for the three-floor, 18,000 sq. ft. flagship at 165 Regent Street, Gymshark are showing huge confidence in the success of their first store, which is set to feature workout sessions, on-site classes and community hangouts.

@BenFrancis1992 on Twitter

Whether or not we can expect to see any further new stores from Gymshark will likely depend on the success of this first endeavour. However, they have shown no sign of slowing down yet, and are clearly betting big on their physical store to increase awareness, engagement and sales.


Despite being a digital-native beauty company, Glossier has always demonstrated that the physical retail experience is an important part of their brand, via extremely popular pop-ups and showrooms.

After closing the doors on all their temporary and permanent stores in 2020 due to the pandemic, they had an exciting 2021 reentering the offline world. With three new permanent flagship stores located in Seattle, LA and London, Glossier are focused on providing their customers with the ultimate in-store experience.

Beyond the aesthetically pleasing, Instagram-worthy decor, customers also love the ability to feel and test products ahead of purchasing. Having already proved their dominance in the online retail world, Glossier has translated this use of technology to a seamless in-store tablet POS system that allows customers to order their products from the stock room to be picked up from a collection point on their way out. 

@glossier on Twitter

Emily Weiss, founder and CEO, has said that Glossier’s goal is to create a people-centric retail experience, prioritising the confidence of both their customers and staff. The brand announced on their website that they are actively searching for their ‘dream location’ to open a New York City flagship store this year, and that they have an exciting retail roadmap to bring Glossier to many more locations in future.

With their London store proving to be a success so far, there is hope that we will see more Glossier locations popping up outside of the US in years to come.

Savage X Fenty

Focused on inclusivity and body confidence, the lingerie company started as an online-only brand – a joint-venture between Barbadian singer Rihanna, and fashion retailer TechStyle Fashion group. With a household name like Rihanna involved in its creation, it is no surprise that Savage X Fenty had immediate success upon launching in 2018, with its entire debut collection selling out within a month.

Aside from its commercial success, Savage X Fenty has also had a massive impact on the lingerie industry by ensuring that all races and body types are equally represented on their website, advertisements and runways. This marks a shift away from the sole use of models with tall, slim builds and Eurocentric features, and has encouraged competitors to improve representation in their own marketing.

Having experimented with pop-up shops in the past – and with huge success – it made sense for Savage X Fenty to branch out into the world of physical retail more permanently. In January 2022, Rihanna announced that the first Savage X Fenty brick and mortar store would be opening in Las Vegas, soon to be followed by stores in four other ‘Savage’ cities across the US: Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

@rihanna on Twitter

Expanding into physical retail has given Savage X Fenty the opportunity to show off what they are all about: representation. The creation of mannequins from 3D scans of their real-life models is part of their plan to ensure that all customers feel represented by the brand. According to co-president and chief marketing officer, Natalie Guzman, the stores are also ‘highly instagrammable.’

The company’s aim is to merge physical and digital in ways not typically seen in lingerie stores, including the opportunity for customers to use 3D body-scanning technology to create personalised product and size recommendations, thus providing an experience that could never be delivered by a website.

Standing out from the crowd

With more and more digital-native brands popping up in all sub-sectors of the market, brands that choose to open a physical store and provide their customers with a hands-on experience not only stand out from the crowd, but also tap into a whole new demographic of shoppers. It is all about creating brand awareness through experience and in turn, making a lasting impression on customers.

Free social media advertising is another alluring reason for digital-native brands to open stores. They take the opportunity to demonstrate their unique style, creating a place in which people want to hang out, take photos, and then share them on their own social media – a lot can be said for having an ‘instagrammable’ store interior these days.

Completely Flexible

In light of the increasing number of digital-native brands looking to expand into the physical space, Completely Retail is launching a new platform this month: Completely Flexible. The new venture will help brands looking to experiment with pop-ups and flexible formats find short-term leases, by matching them with landlords and agents hoping to attract new and popular brands to their retail schemes. Keep an eye out on our website for more details about the upcoming launch.

Brands – register your interest, free of charge, at

Landlords/Agents – contact us at to find out how to list properties on Completely Flexible.


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