NEW YORK — A project as long-coming and singular as Westfield World Trade Center’s 365,000-square-foot multilevel urban shopping center bowing on Wednesday is bound elicit the latest and greatest store concepts from retailers.
A new suite of digital services being tested at Westfield London will be launched later in the year at Westfield World Trade Center and the Australian developer said it will enable direct digital feeds from retailers and “wayfinding at a superior level.” Westfield is also in the process of integrating retailer inventory into its app, so in addition to elevated design and localized assortments, many brands are upping their games with enhanced digital capabilities.
“As a nod to lower Manhattan being a main hub of Connected Fitness activity, our store will embrace that community and tell the story of how to make athletes better through the relentless pursuit of innovation,” said Susie McCabe, senior vice president of global retail at Under Armour.
Connected Fitness is the platform and technology that measures, monitors and manages the factors that determine how you feel. “At the lease line of our store we’ll show the real-time growth of our Connected Fitness community.” A feature zone under the store’s center bridge will be dedicated the community and Connected Fitness products.
“This is the first Under Armour Brand House to incorporate the storytelling of Connected Fitness throughout the landscape of the store,” McCabe said.
Aldo is launching a 1,211-square-foot connected store that will leverage its mobile app. The digital journey will start with push notifications to a consumer’s phone to enable the Aldo app, which links to the connected store’s images, descriptions and social media-sharing features. Shoppers can check inventory or request shoes with the app. They’ll also get access to self-serve tablets and a virtual endless shelf. Gregoire Baret, senior director of omnichannel experience, said, “Driving customers from clicks to bricks and vice versa has become the new normal for us.”
“What was once considered a ‘Store of the Future’ concept is really the ‘Store of Now,’” said Michael Petry, global creative director of Tumi, adding that the brand will offer “the most advanced and cutting-edge technology at the forefront of travel and lifestyle retail innovation. The new store concept brings the Tumi brand aesthetic to life as it syncs modern sophistication and technical innovation.”
Tumi, which focuses on design, function and technical innovation, wanted to capture “that same brand integrity when it came to building out our vision for our stores,” Petry said. The new 2,000-square-foot unit will encourage shoppers to stay with comfortable seating, a large-format touch-screen digital kiosk for online shopping, free Wi-Fi and charging stations. Products will be merchandised by category rather than collection, allowing for a broader range to be displayed and the store will sell the Landon Splatter limited-edition collection.
John Varvatos is capitalizing on Westfield’s technological prowess with a digital exhibition of artist/photographer Karsten Staiger’s work through the end of September. The images, which were captured by Staiger at dizzying heights from the rooftops of New York City buildings, will be displayed on the shopping center’s state-of-the art digital signage network consisting of 19 large-format screens with over 25 million LED pixels and a 100-yard screen located below the base of 1 WTC. The exhibit will start at the Westfield entrance under the Westside Highway and continue to 1 WTC, ending at the four-story elevator screen in Tower 4.
Photography plays a permanent role inside the 2,900-square-foot Varvatos store. The designer partnered with Rock Paper Photo to showcase photos of the Ramones, Blondie, David Bowie, Kiss and the Rolling Stones performances in New York.
Forever 21’s 16,756-square-foot store at Westfield World Trade Center is one of three locations, along with Times Square and Michigan Avenue in Chicago, to launch Brands We Love. The new concept features emerging and established labels such as EPTM by Epitome, Members Only, Rare London and Reverse, among others, and is meant to complement Forever 21’s collections and create a sense of discovery.
“The savvy downtown New York customer is an early adopter of fashion trends and is always looking for new, up-and-coming brands,” said Linda Chang, Forever 21’s vice president of merchandising. “We choose designers we believe in and who deserve the attention of our widespread customer base. The World Trade Center is the perfect [place] to provide this wider range of clothing and brands.”
Links of London’s 800-square-foot store design inspired by a London townhouse features a decorative column “wearing” replicas of the jeweler’s signature gold and silver Sweetie bracelets rendered in brass and stainless steel, a white high-lacquer polyurethane English bulldog and a “Story Wall” that looks like bookcases you might find in a Mayfair library and filled with books that tell stories about the jewelry. Shoppers can customize items at a bracelet bar and there will be on-the-spot engraving.
“The brand has a certain irreverence, like London,” said Leela Petrakis, president of Links of London North America.
Banana Republic’s 10,454-square-foot store is a departure from recent designs with a “much more open and free-flowing plan inspired by California’s indoor/outdoor living,” said Christopher Barriscale, senior director of global store design. “Previous stores tended to be more formal and were broken up into little rooms. This is about an integrated lifestyle as clothes go from day to night seamlessly.”
The neutral color palette of beige and gray compares with the dark wood interiors of older stores, which “tended to read more masculine,” Barriscale said. Glass, concrete and steel reflects the locale’s vibe and a two-story staircase made from exposed steel and wire mesh reflects “less of a cookie cutter approach to designing stores,” Barriscale said.