Nike has taken over a corner of Fifth Avenue in New York City, an effort to remake the retail experience that has folks taking notice and gives fans of the Oregon-based footwear and apparel giant an opportunity for a new take on personalization
The six-story, 68,000-square-foot location at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street does more than showcase product — although, expect plenty of that too. Each floor includes features the brand calls personal and responsive. The concept store puts custom into the forefront of the retail experience, ending the notion that retail isn’t worth the effort.
“But a funny thing happened on the way to the death of retail,” says Heidi O’Neill, Nike Direct president, “it turns out, when you actually talk to consumers, they still want to shop by touching and trying on. They still want to connect, to step into a space and feel something.”
Creating an “only-here” experience, she says, at the new Nike NYC flagship provides a “dynamic and active shopping experience in an environment that’s as responsive as digital.” What she calls a living, breathing store allows Nike to offer premium experiences the individuality, but also allows for a quick change in the presentation of the store.
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Two maker’s studios were included in Nike NYC. The Arena offers a place for consumers to embellish Nike footwear with laces, fabrics and decals. Expect a rotating mixture of special-edition styles to move through The Arena so that consumers can apply footwear dip-dyeing, embroidery, lasering and more.
The Nike Expert Studio, on the upper level, offers consumers a chance to book an in-store meeting with an expert to both find the right footwear choice, but also create a customized look for that choice.
Nike says its new House of Innovation 000 was designed to allow also for the customization of the store too, rearranging spaces and configurations to turn into something fresh as trends dictate.
The effort to connect the digital experience to the in-store retail experience will get tested in NYC too, expanding on what the brand started to dabble in with its Nike by Melrose store in Los Angeles. Expect the NikePlus Member Unlocks and Scan to Try features allowing consumers to scan an item that will then get brought to a room for a fitting. By scanning a code on an in-store mannequin, buyers can shop the entire look and have items brought directly to a fitting room. The Nike Instant Checkout allows payment from within the Nike App, eliminating the need for consumers to stand in line at a traditional checkout desk.
“I love retail that causes shoppers to think ‘only here’ when they walk in a store,” O’Neill says. “What’s the future of retail? My honest answer is: we don’t know. But I do know, no matter what the future looks like, we can build it here, in Nike NYC.”
I cover stadiums, sneakers and tennis. I have written regularly about design, gear, architecture and sport for TIME, Sports Illustrated, Popular Mechanics, Wired and more, from sit-down exclusives to chat sneakers with Kobe Bryant to multiple fashion discussions with Roger F…