Loro Piano's "Rare Walk" pop up shop in New York

Loro Piana is stepping out. The Italian brand, known for its buttery soft textiles, has unveiled a pop-up shop in New York’s Meatpacking District exalting its key footwear styles. Called “The Rare Walk, Meatpacking,” the  residency which runs till July 8, takes a fun, spirited approach to its white-soled shoes.

As customers walk into the 16,000-square-foot space at 3 Ninth Avenue, they encounter oversize fabric fixtures mimicking dunes that nod to the Mongolian territory where the brand’s well-known cashmere is sourced. The fixtures prop up the shoes, including variations of the “walk” style and a limited-edition unisex merino wool sneaker exclusive to the Meatpacking store. The store also carries exclusive bags, scarves and a selection of small leather goods.

According to chief executive officer Fabio d’Angelantonio, the summer walk shoes have been popular with a new, younger customer, adding, “It’s been a way for them to discover the brand.”

The pop-up marks the U.S. debut of Loro Piana’s made-to-measure footwear program, which offers a choice of colors, linings and material combinations. A wall of 30 shoes in grid formation broadcasts the color options. The brand has a similar program in its European stores, but the downtown New York store also offers an option to personalize shoes with up to four letters just above the sole.

Floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass-capped atrium in the center of the space fill the room with natural light. The brand enlisted The Friends of the Highline, the nonprofit organization responsible for the Highline Park, to design the atrium space with same foliage one would find on the elevated park.

“The starting point [for the pop-up] store was really to celebrate some of our icons,” d’Angelantonio said. “We’ve seen people beginning to recognize each other by their shoes, and that is when you see something move from being a nice product to becoming iconic. “

The Italian brand finds itself in a burgeoning district with tony neighbors: Hermès recently opened a shop on the same street, and the restaurant Pastis is set to open across the street.

As luxury brands go, Loro Piana tends to portray more reserved elegance, but with the downtown space the brand shows it also has a more playful side. Cue a mirrored room showcasing neon shoes perfect for any Instagram feed.

“You can take yourself less seriously downtown,” d’Angelantonio said with a laugh. After the pop-up closes, the space will begin another chapter for the brand as a permanent store, designed by Vincent Van Duysen. It will carry a larger range of pieces and is slated to open by the end of the year.

In tandem with the Rare Walk store concept, d’Angelantonio enlisted American choreographer David Parsons to create a short performance for eight dancers. It premiered inside the store at the opening event, but lives on as a digital campaign photographed by young New Yorker Arielle Bobb-Willis. The campaign uses both stills and film, and clips of Parson’s work have been used on the Italian brand’s Instagram feed as a way to show “The Rare Walk” to a worldwide audience.

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