History meets the future with Queen Street’s new Christian Louboutin

History meets the future with Queen Street’s new Christian Louboutin

Every fit-out project has its quirks and challenges – but for the glamorous and coveted new location for Christian Louboutin, there were more than a few unusual turns in the road.

Christian Louboutin is an internationally-renowned luxury brand selling shoes, bags, and accessories – you’ll probably know them for their famous red-soled shoes. In 2023, the overseas client would open the brand’s first storefront in New Zealand, right in the bustling heart of Auckland.

Entrusting Sydney’s McCredie Group to oversee the build, Michael Williams was appointed Project Manager. Having worked on over 100 projects with Datum in the past, Williams knew exactly which partners he wanted working on the fit-out for this uniquely challenging project.

Challenge #1: A Heritage Space

Alongside a popular arcade owned by the same landlords, the new Christian Louboutin is located in a quintessential Auckland space. But the historical significance of the building meant jumping through a few (well-respected) hoops.

Williams explains, “As a heritage listed site, we had to work through a resource consent, heritage architect, and confirm with the council at multiple stages. There was particular concern about the sightlines into the store from the arcade and from Queen Street, as well as ensuring the character of the external signage would keep the look and feel of the building intact.”

Inside the store, there were also historical elements that would need to be kept or restored, such as a set of stairs and some small components. With extra parties involved with the heritage nature of the project, it was important to keep communication open, clear, and patient between everyone – the client, landlord, designers, council, and Datum. 

“What made this so smooth was really great people on every side,” says Williams. “The landlords were so accommodating, Datum was willing to be incredibly flexible, and the back and forth for consent was time-consuming, but overall very successful.”

Challenge #2: A lengthy approval process

Unlike most modern builds, the space did not have an existing resource plan, which would have given clear guidelines on future building use and transformation. Instead, the update would have to include creating this documentation. 

Williams says, “We had to put the cart before the horse. We offered designs and plans, and the landlord marked over changes…this took a while across several meetings, and got somewhat complex.”Even beyond creating and approving plans, there was still all the usual paperwork, including getting building consent. 

A particular snag happened when the shopfront glass arrived from overseas, but was rejected as it didn’t live up to New Zealand code. Luckily, Datum was up to the challenge, sourcing top-quality, compliant glass and glazing to get this part of the process smoothly taken care of.

Challenge #3: Shortened timeframes

Because of the project’s complexity, negotiation and collaboration with the council took around five months – much longer than standard. The client’s goal was to open the shop in time for the busy Christmas shopping season, but that left only three weeks for the entire fit-out process.

Typically, a fit-out of this size would take at least five to six weeks. Datum, however, in a rare and highly unique case, was able to make it work. “I’ve never seen anything like this kind of turnaround, and especially at the high quality standards that Datum is known for,” says Williams. “Typically, condensing a timeline like that would mean accepting that some corners would be cut. But at the end of three weeks, the client flew in to see it, and only the tiniest details were held off for the new year. The place looked fantastic, and we were all incredibly impressed.”

No project is ever 100% free of snags or difficult moments. But it’s about how you rise to the challenge that makes it stand out as a success or a headache. Despite all the additional twists and turns of this Christian Louboutin space, McCredie Group and Datum truly showed their professionalism, creativity, and commitment to doing it right.