The 100,000-square-foot store features the brand’s trademark concrete floor and high, exposed ceilings creating a modern-industrial atmosphere to showcase women’s and men’s fashion, home and lifestyle.
“We have been looking at the region for about five years now. But first you have to find the right partner, then the right location,” said Stefan Laban, global head of URBN International at Urban Outfitters. Urban Outfitters is in a franchise agreement with Dubai-based Azadea Group.
“Dubai Mall is the pinnacle of malls. If you make it here, you can make it in any other mall in other countries. That’s why we decided to go for Dubai Mall first,” said Laban.
“Urban Outfitters is all about experiential retail and here we really focused on bringing things that are new to this market,” he said. The new Dubai flagship has a “graphic T house,” which offers a wide range of printed T-shirts and an “Urban Renewal” display of vintage apparel and clothing that has been remade using recycled fabrics.
“Generally our stores cater to the 18-to-25 age group. What we learned here is that this market is extremely educated when it comes to brands. We have a larger social media following from here than compared to Europe,” said Laban.
The home section will be a prominent focus in the store, more so than other locations of this size, he said. “We believe there is a big opportunity there, especially among those just leaving home for the first time, going into starter homes.” He also said the customers are extremely price-sensitive. “We have made extra efforts to ensure we are cost-competitive here, which we know is often a problem in this market.”
Urban Outfitters does have broad aims to expand in the region with stores planned in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Lebanon. But Laban said they are not in a rush. “We want to get this right first, then take it from there.”
While luxury retailers in the region have experienced a slump in retail sales, the high-street retailers are plowing ahead. Zara and Massimo Dutti both opened new flagships as well this month in Dubai, with Zara debuting a new global store concept that includes self-checkout.