Nuhü Division wants to bring the color back to New York City.
Fatigued by the pandemic-prompted pallor over the once vivid city, the luxury loungewear brand set its sights on SoHo for its first brick-and-mortar pop-up — a 100 percent plastic-free shopping experience that’s equal parts art installation and store — in full and living color.
The sustainable brand’s pop-up, which opens at 426 West Broadway Friday, is created almost entirely out of recycled cardboard, with color — the brand’s core focus — at the fore.
“In the middle of the pandemic, somehow every time when I walked in the New York streets, everything was closed [there was] so much black and gray,” Nuhü Division creative director Minjoon Kim, told WWD. “For me, it’s the most beautiful city, there are so many colors but somehow I felt like all the colors were gone. That’s why [we thought] hey, why don’t we bring the color?”
Upon entry into the store, customers will be met with a multicolor tunnel of sorts, with each section of the narrow and deep space its own hue, from blue and on through the rainbow. It’s like a 3D optical illusion courtesy of a collaboration between Nuhü and Spain-based eco-design firm Cartonlab, and design agency Studio Animal.
“The Nuhü Division pop-up is a space that generates a memorable experience, it is an installation that immerses the visitor in the Nuhü universe,” Javier Jiménez Iniesta, head of Studio Animal, said in a statement. “The project enhances the geometry of the store, which is narrow and deep, working with perspective to generate a powerful visual game from the street. It’s a chromatic and spatially powerful space that’s sure to be a fantastic experience. We believe that it will be difficult to pass by and not feel attracted to enter.”
Within each section of the store, cardboard shelves, racks, hangers and mannequins will display the brand’s comparably colorful Organic Content Standard certified cotton loungewear, made with Oeko-Tex certified dyes, and using 100 percent recycled packaging — even the tape used to seal boxes for shipment is made entirely without plastic. Commonly cardboard hangtags, plastic poly bags and store shopping bags are subbed in for recycled cotton versions. The table for the cash wrap will be cardboard, and cardboard stools around the store promise to be sturdy enough for sitting.
And to do it all in New York, beyond being where the brand is based, is to prove what’s possible in a city not exactly known for being green.
“[With] New York, everybody thinking it’s just a big city and it’s not like people will think more environmental things, and so we were thinking to have a pop-up where it’s not just sell the clothes, we are showing to people from the store renovation, from the shelves, everything, we don’t have to use plastic, we don’t have to use metal,” said Bernice Bai, chief executive officer of Nuhü Division. “This is what sustainable means — it’s everything, it’s not just clothes.”
But when it comes to the clothes, the brand, born of self-professed “garment people” with more than 20 years in the manufacturing business, is working to ensure there’s nothing granola about sustainable activewear made from organic cotton. Styles have somewhat of a streetwear slant, with the unique feature of having Coloro color codes printed on the back of some pieces or embedded in the jacquard terry of others, proving its commitment to color.
“It’s very now, it’s today but also sustainable. So we want to really promote that with our brand. It looks so comfy but it’s organic,” said Nuhü Division general manager Alisa Nappa, who wants to highlight, particularly to Gen Z that there’s more to fashion than it being fast and cheap. “We want to bring awareness that you can shop and be trendy but also be sustainable, so I think that’s a big part of our brand.”
The pop-up opens Friday with daily hours from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the holiday season. As of now at least, it’s set to remain open in the SoHo location for one year, at which point, all of the recycled cardboard used to design the store space, can be recycled again.
Though there are no firm plans yet in place for a permanent location, that’s the aim if the pop-up trial run proves fruitful.
“This is an idea that comes from testing a sustainable store. We have the shelves, we have the mannequins, we have the stools — this is really a yearlong experiment that, once we know it’s going to work, we plant that idea into SoHo and into everyone’s head in New York, we really do want to move forward with a more permanent store,” Celina Mylene, Nuhü PR communications manager, said. “Our roots are here in New York, so we’d love to do it in New York, but first we really want to do this pop-up to prove that you can have a sustainable store in New York, trendy fashion that’s also new fashion, and then we’ll move on from there.”