Retail Intel: Google’s First Retail Store Has an Uber-Sustainable Design + More

FN rounds up all the store openings, closings and redesigns happening this month, from throughout the footwear industry. Send your retail news to web@footwearnews.com.

June 16, 2021: Digital giant Google is making its first foray into brick-and-mortar retail. On June 17, the company will open the doors of its first physical store, located on the ground floor of its offices on 10th Avenue in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. The company said it worked with NYC-based architect Reddymade to create a space that is not only helpful but “warm and inviting.” Interestingly, during the development process, the Google team built a full-scale replica of the store at its HQ in Mountain View, Calif., to test the layout, technology and customer experience. It also prioritized sustainability in the design, earning the store an LEED Platinum rating — the highest possible score in the green building rating system. The Google flagship will be a showcase for its full selection of devices and services, including Pixel phones and tablets, Nest products and Fitbit wearables.

June 14, 2021: Mall REIT Washington Prime Group Inc. announced that it has filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 protections from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. In a statement, the company said it had entered into a restructuring agreement with creditors, led by SVPGlobal, which would remove $950 million from its balance sheet through the equitization of unsecured notes, plus a $190 million paydown of the firm’s revolving credit and term loan facilities. The mall owner also aims to reduce its secured debt through a $325 million equity rights offering. To keep the lights on in the meantime, the REIT has secured $100 million in new debtor-in-possession financing, which it said will ensure business operations continue uninterrupted.

June 10, 2021: Axel Arigato has set up shop in the city of love. After launching its first store in 2016, the label opened the doors of its first flagship store in Paris. The new location is situated in the heart of le Marais, at 86 rue Vieille du Temple — a beloved Paris neighborhood. As for aesthetics, the shop features a modern aura brought to life with monochromatic colors and minimalist furniture, including sculpturally designed podiums, shelves and chairs. Additionally, the store is equipped with a big freestanding LED screen is used for displaying creative content. 

axel arigato, paris store, retail intel
Axel Arigato flagship store in Paris.

June 9, 2021: Danner is expanding beyond the Pacific Northwest and venturing east toward the Rocky Mountains with its latest retail location: Danner, Basecamp at Market Station in Denver, Colo. The Oregon-based brand’s new home is inspired by Colorado’s vast wilderness and nods to the state’s historic railroad industry. The Denver location will carry an assortment of boots from various categories, including lifestyle, hike, hunt and work. Whether it’s a pair of classic, waterproof boots for winter or durable hikers for summer fourteeners, the newest Danner store has something for everyone.

Danner, Denver, Colorado, new store
Danner, Basecamp at Market Station in Denver, Colo.
CREDIT: Danner

June 4, 2021: Onitsuka Tiger has opened its biggest flagship to date. The Japanese sneaker label’s newest store is located on Regent Street in London and is the first of its global units to display the brand’s entire lineup in a single establishment. The space, which spans about 9,300 square feet, resembles an art gallery and consists of two floors — the collections and a marble shoe wall on the ground floor as well as showroom in the basement, which will be used to spotlight local creators and international artists alike. To commemorate the opening, Onitsuka Tiger launched a couple limited-edition designs — the Ultimate 81 MP and the Rebilac Runner MP — that combine the brand’s signature tiger pattern with a color scheme inspired by the London Underground map.

Onitsuka Tiger Opens Its World's Largest Flagship Store on London's Regent Street
An exterior view of Onitsuka Tiger’s new flagship store in London.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Onitsuka Tiger

June 1, 2021: Focus Brands has officially opened its new headquarters in Huddersfield, England. The location, which will house 70 employees out of the company’s 220-strong team, sits alongside five global operational units, including St. Albans and London, as well as Berlin, Amsterdam and Ningbo, China. To mark the opening, JD Sports executive chairman Peter Cowgill paid a visit to the site. (Focus Brands was acquired by JD back in 2011.) “Huddersfield has been an instrumental part of the Focus Brands story, and we’re excited to be investing further into the area with a new state-of-the-art office space,” Focus Brands director Dave Tolman said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming our employees into their new working environment under the latest government advised social distancing measures.”

JD Sports executive chairman Peter Cowgill (center) pays a visit to Focus Brands' new headquarters in England.
JD Sports executive chairman Peter Cowgill (center) pays a visit to Focus Brands’ new headquarters in England.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Focus Brands

May 27, 2021: Christian Louboutin is heading to the Hamptons. The luxury designer is opening its first pop-up boutique in New York’s Southampton, where it will feature the label’s spring ’21 collection for men and women. In addition, the store will offer exclusive shoe styles, including the Almerio wedge in caramel-colored leather, the Nicol satin mule, as well as an exclusive three-piece capsule collection, comprised of his and hers flat suede espadrilles and the Loubishore woven tote bag. The 1,200-sq.-ft. space, which is located at 53B Jobs Lane, gives nods to the seaside location with shelves suspended by fisherman ropes and striped blue sofas.

Christian Louboutin, southampton, pop-up, store
Christian Louboutin’s new pop-up shop is located at 53B Jobs Lane<br />Southampton, New York.
CREDIT: Carl Timpone/BFA.com

May 25, 2021: Gucci is permanently setting up shop in New York’s East Hampton. The boutique at 17 Newton Lane spans more than 2,000 square feet and occupies two floors, showcasing the luxury brand’s ready-to-wear, shoes, bags, leather goods and accessories, as well as the Gucci Beauty and Gucci Decor lines. The store opens in the same year of the fashion house’s 100th anniversary celebration and marks a homecoming of sorts for Gucci, which had a location on Main Street from 2006 to 2009.

May 25, 2021: K-pop sensation BTS, whose members are collectively Louis Vuitton ambassadors, is debuting three pop-up shops in some of Asia’s biggest cities. Following launches in South Korea, Thailand and the United States, the group is set to introduce stores in Manila, Taipei and Singapore. The locations will be themed after BTS’ fourth Korean-language studio album, “Map of the Soul: 7,” and sell fashion and lifestyle merchandise.

May 24, 2021: Fendi has something brewing in Miami. The fashion label is taking over the OTL Restaurant in the Miami Design District, where it will host its Fendi Caffe concept through July 5. The space, located across from the Fendi boutique, is inspired by the brand’s summer capsule collection and features a sunny yellow color that adorns the canopy, tables, chairs and planters. Also present is the new FF Vertigo symbol, a trippy reimagining of the Italian label’s iconic logo. The Caffe will serve an Italian-inspired menu of sweet and savory bites, as well as a signature FF cappuccino. Fendi also is bringing its Peekaboo Bar customization service to Miami for a limited time, from May 20-June 3.

May 17, 2021: Flip-flop brand Hari Mari has opened its first flagship store, in its hometown of Dallas. The two-level space is located at 3213 Knox St., in the heart of the recently revived Knox District. It was designed by the Dallas-based creative agency MoWax Visual and comprises not only retail space but also a bar that will serve complimentary ranch waters, Bloody Marys and a local craft beer, while the second floor will serve as a space for parties, yoga classes and corporate gifting events. Though brick-and-mortar retail has been challenged in the past year, the brand’s leaders are upbeat about their prospects. “Hari Mari believes we can go on the offensive by going into retail as the country returns to normal after the pandemic,” said president Jake Szczepanski in a statement. “Coupled with the fact that the brand saw momentum during the pandemic, we are poised to expand not only at the retail level but to also expand into additional product categories and opportunities.”

Hari Mari Dallas Flagship Store
Inside Hari Mari’s Dallas flagship store.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Hari Mari

May 3, 2021: Rag & Bone is celebrating the neighborhood deli with its latest pop-up. Launching at the Nordstrom NYC flagship, the retail space offers a curated mix of pieces from the brand’s women’s and men’s summer ’21 ready-to-wear and accessories collection. When walking into the pop-up, guests are met with a selection of fresh flowers and signs that read, “Cold Tees & Tanks” and “Fresh Denim” — a nod to imagery seen in local bodegas. The store is also equipped with a neon deli sign. As guests try on apparel, they will be met with a mirror that gives off the illusion of a deli aisle. Additionally, the space will house deli staples such as: Kettle Chips, Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzels, Boom Chick Pop and more. Rag & Bone will also make a $25,000 grant to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation to benefit the Restaurant Workers COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund. The pop-up will be available through June 5.

Rag & Bone, Pop-Up, Nordstrom, NYC, Store Openings
Rag & Bone pop-up at Nordstrom NYC flagship
CREDIT: Connie Zhou/ Rag & Bone

Big Openings from March

March 30, 2021: U.K.-based Inov-8 is set to open its first-ever store, which it has named The Forge. The door — which will open in partnership with Pete Bland Sports — is located in the Mill Yard in Staveley, a village in Cumbria, England.

“Opening the new store in partnership with Pete Bland Sports feels very special. They are the leading retailer for fell and trail running in the U.K., and having stood next to their team in the rain selling products at events, I’ve seen first-hand how good their customer service and relationship-building is. This is why people travel from all parts of the country to visit their store in Kendal,” Inov-8 COO Michael Price said in a statement.

Additionally, Price said the storefront will focus on sustainability, and explained in a statement that Inov-8 has switched to renewable energy and has worked with the Mill Yard to have solar panels installed above the stores and office.

The debut Inov-8 store is scheduled to open on April 15. Initially, it will be open five days a week, from Thursday to Monday, and offer run, hike and fitness footwear and apparel for men and women.

March 23, 2021: Velasca is opening up shop in New York City. According to FN’s sister publication WWD, the direct-to-consumer Italian shoe brand — founded eight years ago in Milan by Enrico Casati and Jacopo Sebastio — will debut its first United States-based location at 250 Elizabeth Street in the Nolita neighborhood. It currently operates nine outposts in Italy, as well as one boutique in Paris and another in London. The opening was originally slated for March last year but was stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 12, 2021: Frances Valentine has expanded its brick-and-mortar footprint with a new store in New York City. The 1,000-square-foot space, which is located at 922 Madison Avenue, was designed by Steven Scarloff — a longtime friend of the brand’s cofounders, Elyce Arons and the late Kate Spade. Frances Valentine originally had a storefront at 67th Street and Madison Avenue, which started as a three-month popup but stayed open for 18 months.

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