With a sustainable and technological mindset, along with a community-driven approach, Asics has revamped its Oxford Street and Regent Street stores with a new holistic and innovative retail concept.
Taking cues from the brand’s “sound mind, sound body” ethos, both stores aim to “stimulate customers’ minds and bodies.”
“We wanted to create an environment that really brought those two things together,” said Scott Wakefield, direct-to-consumer director at Asics Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “At the same time, we know as a retailer, a store can’t anymore just be a place that we sell stuff because consumers are not interested. Actually, shouldn’t be. It has to be more than that. It’s about building a sense of community through the community space. It’s about recognizing the impact we have on the environment. It’s about giving consumers services and feelings in that shopping environment and engaging them in a different way. Every store that we open from here will be this concept. We’ve also refitted our Amsterdam store which opened a few weeks ago. We’re on-site now in Berlin and Paris.”
The Oxford Street store, which launched in June, spans 7,400 square feet, while the 9,040-square-foot Regent Street location — which opens its doors today — features two floors and a mezzanine.
The brand has aimed to digitally enhance the shopping experience with kiosks and screens which provides product information to customers. There is a Motion ID running service where a machine analyzes your feet and chooses a running shoe.
The company utilized recycled mannequins which are designed with fewer materials and are 30 percent lighter than industry standard, while hangers are made from 50 percent grass and 50 percent sustainable materials. A bespoke lighting system at the entrance of the store spotlights a host of green plants with a drip-feed hydroponic planting system that waters greenery after store hours. Elsewhere, the brand installed LED lighting fixtures which require less energy.
To help promote a healthy lifestyle, the store offers free classes taught by freelance fitness instructors. The top floor hosts a community room with a mirrored studio which offers an array of fitness classes for small groups. Options include Krav Maga, salsa, calisthenics, tai chi, meditation, Zumba and circuit training. In addition, Asics is to host weekly running clinics.
Both stores will carry the brand’s latest sports-performance range alongside its latest Tokyo-inspired Jyuni line. Prices range from six pounds ($7.94) for a headband to 200 pounds for MetaRun sneakers. Meanwhile, the Regent Street location will house Asics, Asics Tiger, Onitsuka Tiger and Haglöfs brands.
Wakefield described its customer as “a fitness expert” who is not just running a marathon, but is involved in different activities and takes pilates or yoga as well. Key markets for the company include the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain, as well as the U.S. and Japan.
“Footwear is a very strong category for us, particularly for running footwear,” said Wakefield. “But, actually, more and more sales are in apparel collections. We really start to see more engagement in womenswear where we spent a lot of time and effort trying to understand what she wants from us. So really making sure that we cover good color stories, good rounded collections which you can get from head to toe. Then, of course, we’ve been putting technology into our apparel products. Those two things combine to mean that there’s more to the store.”
According to Wakefield, the typical runner or fitness enthusiast historically didn’t really care how they looked when exercising beyond their footwear. “Now, with an increase of social media, particularly Instagram, what we see more and more is people are absolutely super conscious of how they dress and how they look,” he said. “Fitness is becoming increasingly relevant in more people’s minds because they recognize the busy, crazy lives that they all have. It is a great way of stress relief. It is a great way of being more mentally fit. As a result, those people have more of a lifestyle edge to them. That athleisure trend that everyone talks about, what it is in actual fact, people are looking for products that cross between disciplines, things that are comfortable to wear to go out for drinks with friends and also wear it in a gym. They are looking for that versatility.”
“Our world is changing rapidly, and our business is growing alongside this to become a leader in creating valued consumer connections,” said Alistair Cameron, CEO of Asics EMEA. “This store represents a statement that we are one brand that can deliver products for an active lifestyle. Through our digital communities, apps and consumer interaction, we will also inspire people to move and enjoy the physical and mental benefits of exercise.”