Architectural interiors and branding studio Draw Creative has collaborated with British fashion house River Island to create River Studios, a new retail concept designed to reinvigorate the high street. Making its debut in Derby this month, River Studios introduces a modernised take on the retailer’s brand, while paying homage to its craftsmanship and family business culture.  

River Island is a family-owned UK retail business, with almost all of its clothing products designed in-house – two rather uncommon practices in today’s high street landscape. Draw was tasked with creating an elevated store experience that not only spotlighted River Island’s in-house design talent but also reflected its family business culture. This has been achieved by reinvigorating the iconic River Island identity through a new brand name combined with an elevated visual approach.


“This is an exciting step for River Island as a business, and marks the next stage of our continuing journey to elevate the River Island experience for our customers. Retail is at its best when it is evolving and adapting to best suit the needs of shoppers, and we are no different. River Studios delivers a modern, seamless experience fit for the high street of today.” Will Kernan, CEO of River Island

An exciting new interior scheme takes cues from the eccentricity and curation of boutique stores. This presents as a quirky mix of old and new, to create a fresh, unique environment where natural materials mix with recycled and distressed furnishings and juxtapose with digital content to bring River Studios to life.

The physical space enhances the customer journey with significant new technological innovation. Smart fitting rooms will identify and display products that customers bring in to try, allowing them to request more sizes, choose alternative products and request assistance from one of the in-store stylists – without leaving the fitting room. RFID-driven endless aisle technology promotes a seamless omni-channel experience, giving the customer the opportunity to order from the online stock holding in-store. An additional AI styling tool named “Chloe” sits on the shop floor, offering customers style advice in exchange for answering a few simple questions.

Enhanced digital service tools will support the River Studios in-store team for a more seamless omnichannel experience. This includes a Digital Click and Collect point to improve efficiency for customers to receive their orders faster. Staff will take on the role of stylists, allowing time to focus more on providing a real-time, personal level of customer service.

Bringing design to the fore, each River Studios store will host a unique curation of exclusive in-house brands, including RI London, In Other Words, Unplanned and Chelsea Girl.

Kernan comments ‘Everything about our curated product offering starts and finishes with our in-house design team here in London. As a house of brands, we are able to cater to varying different customer needs, all of which are designed by the River Island team in London.’

Reinvention has always been at the heart of River Island, with the family-owned business adept at evolving alongside, and often ahead of, the high street. Founded by Bernard Lewis in 1948, the business has developed from Lewis Separates to Chelsea Girl and Concept Man, becoming River Island in 1988 – remaining agile in the face of immense industry shifts for over 70 years. River Studios reignites the appetite for evolution, exploring how River Island will advance and expand for the next 70 years and beyond.

Jess Codrington, co-founder at Draw: “Chris and I have a long relationship with the Lewis family and River Island, so we were delighted to be involved with the next evolution of the brand from start to finish. They have always been very agile, not afraid to explore new developments and evolve with the high street. The new concept is unique to them with all its quirks, even with it being an elevated experience, there is a domestic quality to the scheme that customers can relate to”. 

River Studios, Derby, opened on 26th August: Derbion, Units SU202-SU203 & SU301, London Rd, Derby DE1 2PL. The concept will be rolled out to the River Island stores in: Rushden Lakes and Thurrock in the following weeks.