Reports of the death of retail are premature and exaggerated. In fact, the challenge of e-commerce is a major driving factor for dramatic innovation in what a store represents, how space can be configured to suit a brand’s image and objectives and why branded buildings are best suited to engage consumers in a multi-channel sales environment. Below are three salient examples:
Metrograph, No. 7 Ludlow Street, New York
Millennials don’t just want to stay home, order in food and stream Hulu. The immediate popularity, particularly among millennials, of the Lower East Side’s Metrograph building demonstrates this. It features two theatres for independent films, but also much more. Metrograph includes a restaurant, curated candy shop, bar/lounge and a miniature bookstore. It’s a branded place in touch with New York’s repertory theatre tradition that rejects the prosaic multiplex aesthetic with elements like custom seats made from pine reclaimed from Brooklyn’s Domino sugar factory.
Domenico Vacca Club, 15 West 55th Street, New York
The Italian luxury label, Domenico Vacca, closed its three traditional Manhattan stores in favor of establishing a branded flagship presence off Fifth Avenue. What elevates the new Vacca Midtown presence beyond traditional bespoke retail is the incorporation of a private, member-only DV social club, a café, barbershop, salon, private event space and extended stay furnished apartments along with an 8,000 square foot boutique with a private V.I.P. atelier for special order collections. Particularly for the international tourist/shopper, the Vacca building creates a power spatial context for elite luxury in New York.
Miami Design District, Buena Vista, Miami
In a little more than two years, the world’s leading luxury brands have nearly all made substantial retail investment in Miami’s Design District. More than a shopping center, the Design District allows brands like Dior, Tom Ford, Hermès and Bulgari to each establish a branded showcase building in a neighborhood known recently as a quiet outpost for high-design home furnishing. Many have questioned the audacity of such expenditures far from Miami’s principal tourist retail hub (Lincoln Road) and the super-high-end Bal Harbor Shopping center. But with the expansion of direct Asian flights to Miami, the importance of the city as a luxury travel outpost is clearly on the rise. Each of the major brand outposts of the Design District feature dramatic staircases and roof top lounges primed for events, photography and private shopping rooms. The performance of these stores is not measured by sales transacted on site, but by how these spectacular environments serve as settings for sales professionals to engage luxury consumers and establish ongoing relationships.
Photo Credit: Alessandra Chemollo