“Oakley is an industrial design brand, first and foremost. That’s our roots,” said Erik Searles, vice president of retail for Oakley.
On that note, Searles commenced a preview of the company’s Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan, which opened Thursday, elevating Oakley’s retail agenda. A branding experience bent on innovation unfolded, as Searles, along with director of retail marketing Matt Moss and Fifth Avenue store manager Lindsay Donahue, highlighted the technical traits and performance characteristics of the eyewear and sportswear, and the store’s unorthodox design and service features.
Most striking was the large digital ceiling composed of nine rows of 10-foot-wide screens, extending 500 feet into the store. With a step back, there’s an anamorphic effect, creating the illusion of seeing one big screen. Videos and animations of mountains, ocean tides, performance products and athletes in action are projected. The rugged appeal is furthered by the tectonic hot-rolled steel plates adorning the interior and exterior walls, though the original brickwork inside is maintained.
With 2,100 square feet for selling, the space has separate areas for the eyewear — custom, performance, prescription and lifestyle — representing the core of the offering. Sunglass prices start at $95 and customized versions start at $130. A level of eyewear customizing is offered at all Oakley stores but the “eyewear bar” at the flagship has touch screens and the fullest assortment of colors and styles for frames, lenses, icons and ear socks. It takes 10 to 30 minutes to customize the glasses, which is done on the premises.
There are also areas for Oakley apparel, watches and accessories. Apparel products are designed with wicking, stretch characteristics and fabrics that help control body temperature. Toward the rear of the store is another new key service feature, the chain’s first optical center. It’s geared to streamline the process for fitting prescription sunglasses and clear lens frames. Opticians use a lightweight motion-capture device that fits on the frames. Customers wear the two together, get photographed, then the measurements are recorded. Once the fitting is complete, orders are transmitted to Oakley’s headquarters in Foothill Ranch, Calif., where the eyewear is engineered and shipped in five to seven days. The concept is being integrated over time to all Oakley stores.
The flagship is also the first Oakley location in the U.S. to sell Oakley Icon men’s wear, which will be distributed to other Oakley stores this year.
On the second floor, there’s a showroom to support wholesaling, though retailing is growing as a percent of the total business and represents about 50 percent. Having a store and a showroom under one roof “enables our East Coast accounts to see what the brand looks like in total,” said Searles.
The Fifth Avenue flagship is the third Oakley store in Manhattan, and 100th in the U.S. There are also 63 Oakley Vaults outlets in the U.S., and a total of 242 stores and outlets in 19 countries. Oakley stepped up its retail program in 2012 with an expansion calling for 15 percent annual growth in the store count. The program also calls for shedding cash wraps in favor of mobile points of sale; movable fixtures to flex the merchandise presentation depending on sales trends; relaunching the Web site this summer; eventually fulfilling orders from the Web through store inventory, and growing business with professional baseball by opening stores and shops-in-shop at stadiums. Angels Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., has a store, and there are shops-in-shop at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Tex., where the Texas Rangers play, and in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Oakley also has a partnership with the New York Road Runners as the presenting sponsor of the Oakley New York Mini 10K.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast