The outerwear specialist has opened this month its first flagship in Milan, where customers have the opportunity to experiment with the protection of the label’s jackets in extreme weather conditions.
To wit, the 7,535-square-foot unit, located in a former Prada store on central Corso Venezia, houses the Extreme Weather Experience Room, where the brand re-created an arctic environment with a temperature of -5 Fahrenheit, snow on the floor and a video installation.
Woolrich, which covered the store’s entire building with its iconic red and black Buffalo Check pattern — a look that will run until after Christmas — commissioned the design of the interiors to Japanese studio Wonderwall, directed by Masamichi Katayama. The team of architects and interior designers conceived a warm, engaging space, able to connect the outdoors and urban souls of the brand. Wool and steel are juxtaposed in a charming balance, while the space’s original concrete supporting columns were encapsulated in glass structures transforming them in decorative features.
At the entrance, a lounge area with sofas and a counter with stools welcomes customers, allowing them to sip a coffee and charge their phones. There is also a mini-museum to present the brand’s rich heritage with archival images and books, as well as vintage pieces.
Dedicated spaces are destined to the men’s and women’s collections, including displays focused on footwear, blankets — all crafted in the original mill located in Woolrich, Pennsylvania — as well as collaborations with New Balance and ski helmet manufacturer Smith, for example.
The Milanese flagship also has a Customer Area to customize parkas, T-shirts, sweatshirts and blankets with embroideries, studs, labels and patches.
“Our starting point was the idea of distinguishing the physical shopping experience from the online, offering the best possible offline interaction while keeping the web integrated,” said Andrea Cané, global creative director of Woolrich International. The company was established last year when Woolrich Europe, part of Bologna-based W.P. Lavori in Corso Group, merged with Woolrich Inc., the American company founded in 1830.
In addition, a wide room, decorated with archival pictures shot by Douglas Kirkland, displays the brand’s iconic arctic parka styles, while the greenhouse on the back of the store houses a shop-in-shop managed by Japanese plant artist Satoshi Kawamoto, the creator of Green Fingers, with stores in Tokyo and New York
“The end objective goes far beyond a mere selling experience,” adds Cané. “The Milan flagship store on Corso Venezia is about welcoming our guests, making them feel as if they were in a lounge where they are at ease and can enjoy services and experiences while listening to our story. Everybody on our team has been carefully trained and selected. Our clients can ask questions, explore, interact with our highly knowledgeable staff — because the ultimate difference between online and offline lies within the people.”
Woolrich, which operates 24 stores in the world, will inaugurate a flagship in Toronto next week, while next year it will unveil pop-up shops in Park City, during the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, and in Aspen.
In October, Woolrich International, which closed 2016 with sales of $190 million and is projecting an annual average growth of 12 percent from 2017 to 2020 and sales of $300 million within three years, sold a minority stake to Goldwin Inc., a Tokyo-based manufacturer and seller of technical sportswear. As a result of the partnership, Goldwin and Woolrich will create a new premium outdoor collection that will incorporate state-of-the-art technology with a modern design aesthetic. The first men’s line will debut for fall 2018 during Milan Men’s Fashion Week and will target selected fashion and outdoors retailers in North America, Europe and Asia.