By  on October 9, 2009

NEW YORK — West 34th Street is a street of big ambitions. Now three retailers have chosen to open their largest stores in the U.S. on the street.

Geox, Esprit and Aéropostale want to tap into the one million people a day using mass transit — the Long Island Rail Road, NJ Transit and Amtrak, city subways and buses and the PATH system.

Geox recently opened a 6,000-square-foot flagship at 29 West 34th Street between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue. The store, which houses the company’s first showroom in the U.S., was designed to highlight Geox’s apparel collection, which had a 42.8 percent sales increase in the first half of this year. Sales in North America grew 20 percent.

The West 34th Street store is the first to display Geox’s new fashion-focused design concept. While the company is well known for delivering comfort through its breathable technology, Geox is emphasizing its Italian heritage and fashion-forward side with the opening of the store. Technology features are downplayed, a spokeswoman said, adding the store is more about the visual merchandising and showing the increased range of apparel. While outerwear is the main offering — Italian wool argyle sweaters, cardigans and tunics are sold overseas — there is also fashion footwear such as pumps and over-the-knee leather boots.

With a new president, John Gunn, a veteran of Tommy Hilfiger, charged with growing the business in the Americas, Esprit in March will open an 18,000-square-foot flagship at 21-25 West 34th Street. It will be Esprit’s largest store in North America and second-largest worldwide. Apple leased the retail space several years ago, but decided not to open a store there. Instead, Apple subleased the first three floors to Esprit. The flagship will have an open and airy design and floors will be connected by a custom-designed staircase. Offerings will include men’s and women’s casualwear and men’s and women’s collections, women’s EDC and accessories for both sexes.

Aéropostale in November will open its first street-level location on West 34th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The brand is primarily found in shopping malls and, in fact, operates a unit in Manhattan Mall. That store’s fate couldn’t be determined at press time.

Aéropostale has been on a roll. The retailer in June launched a retail concept geared to tweens, P.S. from Aéropostale. For the second quarter ended Aug. 1, Aéropostale posted a sales increase of 20 percent to $453 million, from $377 million in the same year-ago period. Same-store sales for the quarter advanced 12 percent compared with an 11 percent increase last year.

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