The runway feature at select Abercrombie stores.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is testing a store design concept that aims to update existing units to give consumers a better shopping experience.

The in-store refresh is separate from the rollout of prototypes of the brand’s new concept store that began with the test site at the Polaris Fashion Center in Columbus, Ohio in February. The two tests are related, however, since the in-store refresh uses some ideas from the new prototype.

The new in-store refresh test store was opened last weekend at Memorial City Mall in Houston. Among the elements from the prototype used are the refurbished logo from 1892, the open concept layout and the runway area in the store for customers to have better visibility to the product.


The storefront of the Memorial City test store.  Courtesy Photo

An Abercrombie spokeswoman said some refreshed stores might include the runway, while other sites might include other features not found in the Memorial City store. That’s because the company is working with each individual store’s layout to determine what would work best within the existing footprint, while still giving customers a better store-shopping environment.

The company so far has opened three new prototype concept stores. In addition to Polaris, these are in Atlanta, Ga., at Lenox Square, and in Troy, Mich. at Somerset North.

A new prototype store in Scottsdale, Ariz., at Fashion Square is set to open Friday, and that will be followed on Saturday by a new store in Tysons, Va., at Tysons Corner Center. A Century City, Calif., store featuring the prototype is slated to open later this year, although the exact date hasn’t been finalized. And by the end of the year, Abercrombie will have re-entered the Hong Kong market with a new store at Harbour City, the largest mall in Hong Kong. The Harbour City site will be the first to showcase the new test prototype overseas.

Other features of the prototype, which tends toward a smaller footprint, include omnichannel capabilities and fitting rooms that have amenities such as separate controls for light and music, as well as a phone charging dock. The gender-neutral fitting rooms also include two individual rooms, each one within larger private suites. Cash wraps are placed throughout the space, and consumers can place orders in the store, or head into the stores to pick-up orders already placed online.

The specialty retailer said the “evolved experience is designed to be an inviting space that facilitates brand engagement and encourages product trial.”