The Mecca of all beauty stores

Visitors to Mecca’s first ever flasgship store, housed in Sydney’s former Gowing’s Building, could be mistaken for thinking they’ve strolled into a Sephora store if entering from the Market St entrance, but it wouldn’t take too long to realise that this store is much more.

Spanning 1800sqm and four floors, the store really lives up to its moniker – it truly is a beauty lover’s mecca. The flagship is the culmination of more than 20 years of specialist beauty retail and two brands – with the Mecca Cosmetica brand launching originally in South Yarra two decades ago, followed by the Mecca Maxima.

Decked out in a bold, bright colour palette, of reds, pinks, oranges and yellows, Mecca co-founder Jo Horgan and her team have reimagined beauty retail.

The store is housed in the former TopShop flagship premise, and is the largest beauty store in the southern hemisphere, filled with more than 200 global cult beauty brands and more than 200 types of innovation.

Apart from its behemoth size (it’s 20 times the first ever Mecca store and double the size of the next largest), where this store differs from your regular suburban Mecca outlets is in the services offer – hosted instore are a skin lab, brow studio, hair studio, ear piercing, make up, fragrances services, concierge and gift wrapping to name a few.

Each floor takes on a different feel. From Market St, you enter via the specialist make up floor, which looks much as you would expect from top Sephora stores – displays full of cult make up brands, counters for services staffed with make up artists, make up chairs and mirrors, and a snaking checkout counter towards the back lined with Sephora style merchandising of smaller sized and slight lower priced beauty items to entice shoppers waiting in line.

Mecca has invested a significant amount in digital for this store and the ground floor is perhaps where it's best showcased, with several LED screens suspended from the ceiling at strategic points beaming out bright, flawless images of beauty curated by and for Mecca.

Scrolling LED signage is used throughout to denote specialist counters instore such as the Skin Lab and Beauty Services, and on the lower ground floor digital signage is used to call out different brands and concessions.

There are several areas throughout the store dedicated to specific brands including GHD, Tom Ford, Shiseido, Diptyque, Jo Malone, as well a jewellery brand Sarah & Sebastian and perfume house Fornasetti Profumi.

The lower ground level of the store is reserved for skin, hair and body, and features a cascading ceiling of light structures which add brightness and a completely different feel to the make up hall directly above. LG houses a hair studio and several private cubicles for skin treatments nestled among the product displays (all branded, of course).

 A myriad of retail design textures are used – diagonally striped floor tiles juxtaposed with plain tiles, wood panelling on the walls and to separate skin services cubicles, wall paper in the hair studio and in keeping with the bright and bold theming thread that runs across the entire store, a wall mosaic of red and yellow abstract lips, which greets shoppers entering from both the QVB and down the escalators from ground level.

Level 1 is where Mecca elevates the experience. This area feels more exclusive and expensive, perhaps due to the vast product to space ratio – only just over half of the floorspace would be dedicated directly to sales, with the balance being services including a concierge, services suite, and the ‘Mecca Studio’, a large open area somewhat walled off from the perfumes houses at the top of the escalator featuring seating, side benches and tables, inspirational beauty and fashion publications, wine fridges and a wall of champagne.

This is where classes and product launches will take place in the future, and where beauty specialists will be able to conduct in person and virtual consultations.

The feel of the top floor is completely different to the two below – white exposed ceilings, cobbled pattern tiles underfoot, curtained windows, and dark wood and marble displays, offset with acrylic looking brightly coloured hanging backdrops.

Opening a store of this size and scale is always a risk in the wake of one of the biggest economic disruptions in living memory, but given the thought and vast appeal to beauty aficionados, and the lack of any similar competing offer in Sydney, or the rest of Australia, this concept should thrive. Expect to see other brands take inspiration from this store, with smaller versions of the most successful innovations rolled out to further locations over the coming years.