Russia’s premier department store TSUM, one of the world’s leading shopping destinations, is celebrating its 110th anniversary. Established by Scottish founders Andrew Muir and Archibald Meriiz, TSUM’s longstanding history dates back to 1907 Imperial Russia. At the time, TSUM was an aristocratic store exclusive to the elite; today it’s accessible to everyone, both native and international, with a wide selection of progressive luxury labels at ‘Milanese prices’.
Vice president Alla Verber - a powerhouse of the fashion industry - is at the helm of bringing high-end and contemporary labels to a modern Russia. In an exclusive interview with ORDRE, Alla Verber reveals how TSUM has shaped perceptions of fashion and shopping for Russian women over the last century: “The Russian experience has changed a lot. Russians today are not the same as they were five-to-ten years ago. They’ve changed; they’ve become international; they travel a lot. Everything they experience now is through Instagram and other digital and social platforms, so they know everything that is happening around the world. Hence, we are giving them the best choices.”
TSUM, part of the Mercury group, is the largest department store in Eastern Europe and third in Europe after Harrods and Selfridges. The Neo-gothic building covers a near seventy thousand square meter space and hosts collections from more than two thousand top-tier labels. Leading sell-throughs for the store include Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Balmain, Chloe and Valentino amongst others.
“TSUM customers are very international and are highly educated about Russia. From TSUM, they expect the best that exists within the fashion industry and that is exactly what we give them. They are very picky shoppers - they are checking the quality, price, and service. We provide them with experience, a vast choice of clothes and luxury brands”, explains Verber.
With innovative collaborations, pop-ups and tax refund projects, TSUM is attracting more and more international spenders, turning Russia into one of the most popular global shopping destinations. Verber describes TSUM’s sweeping international reach: “We have a growing number of brands that are developing a lot of products exclusively for TSUM. We have the best prices and experiences for customers. They can now see and shop products online. Ordering online is easier for them, so we have a very strong online business at the moment.”
The city of Moscow was eager to celebrate TSUM’s 110th birthday milestone on October 26th. The department store, located just a few meters away from the iconic Red Square and Bolshoi Theatre, hosted a celebratory party inviting international A-list guests such as Eleonora Carisi, Tina Leung and Helena Bordon to name a few. The seven-floor building was transformed to host the festive soirée, featuring an orchestra, a fashion catwalk and a three-course meal for attendees. Verber tells us how the festivities will continue throughout the year with special brand collaborations: “Every designer and every brand made special products for TSUM. For the occasion they did accessories, t-shirts, sweaters - all kinds of things were done, all special for TSUM.” Some of the high-end labels designing exclusive merchandise for the anniversary include Emilio Pucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, Tom Ford, Marni and Valentino.
Alla Verber’s final commentary refers to the general future of department stores and the way she sees technology changing consumer habits, stating: “Department stores unfortunately are currently having a problem bringing people to their stores because of the Internet and online shopping. They are suffering on traffic. Therefore, department stores need to come up with new ideas for how to entertain people in-store. For example doing activities, events...interesting things!”