As you’d expect of Group Lotus, it moves fast. In September 2010 it launched Lotus Originals – a line of casual yet luxurious clothes and accessories that could originally only be bought online. A retail space in Monaco followed, coinciding with the principality’s famous Grand Prix. Now, still less than two years after the line’s launch, a London flagship store (second picture) opened on Regent Street on Monday.
The 4,800sq ft store is housed in a Grade II-listed building that was formerly home to the Café Royal – which may not seem the obvious choice for a brand that in many people’s minds is associated with gleaming, ultramodern Formula One cars. It does, however, reflect the lifestyle long associated with the marque – British understatement, design excellence, racing heritage – and now with its collection of apparel, luggage and limited-edition collectables. So the emporium is not aimed exclusively at petrolheads – though F1 fans will certainly find plenty to divert them, and there is a Lotus Evora to be seen (but it’s for display purposes only, so you won’t be driving it away).
Most of the products are aimed at men. Clothing includes striped polo shirts with discreet Lotus roundels (£71) and more obviously branded polo shirts such as the dark-blue “No 77” one (first picture, £70; also in red or green) – its retro styling, 77 and “Type 40” car emblem recalling the Lotus glory years. There are also classic Merino V-neck sweaters (£192) in blue or grey, again with a subtle, same-tone Lotus logo, and a practical polycotton car coat (first picture, £333) that’s so played down in its branding (a tone-on-tone roundel on the chest and inside pockets edged with green and yellow bands) that it’s likely to elicit knowing nods only from the Lotus cognoscenti.
In the leather range, the vintage-style racing leather jacket is a winner (available in similar styles for men and women, £897 and £797) – cool in tan or dark green and with eye-catching double stripes on one arm. A smart brown-leather 48hr Bag (first picture, £1,200) with two sections (one for “personal travel needs”, the other “office organised” for pens, mobile, documents, etc) is specifically sized and styled to fit in Lotus cars, and is bound to fly off the shelves even to non-Lotus drivers.
These may be “go faster” products, but you can bet there will be plenty of Lotus enthusiasts who, once they’ve raced in à la Kimi Räikkönen to the new store, will need a good push – even some jump leads – to get them out again.