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Bridging the Divide


Personalization, localization, interaction, “limited edition” retail and store experience. These are the top priorities — to varying degrees — for retailers as they look to bridge the divide between online and offline retail in the physical space. Here’s a look at how it plays out in three new stores:

Oakley: Sport lifestyle brand Oakley describes its new flagship on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue as a “disruptive display of science wrapped in art.” From its tectonic-plated exterior to its floating digital ceiling, the store entices customers with a dazzling combination of technological innovation, customization and iconic design.

The interior mixes the old with the new, preserving the 1906 building’s original brickwork, while adding a state-of-the-art digital ceiling. The installation — nine rows of 27 LCD screens suspended in fragment forms across the entire length of the ceiling — wraps progressively downward and helps draw shoppers in from outside. The content includes branded storytelling, art pieces, animations and footage of Oakley athletes. It is divided into four segments that run in alternating patterns and rhythms according to store hours and outside activity.

With some 2,100 sq. ft. of retail space, the flagship offers a full range of Oakley’s eyewear, along with apparel, watches, accessories and more. It includes a custom eyewear bar, where customers, aided by touchscreens, can choose from more than 20 different lens tints and 28 frames to build their own eyewear, with nearly 600 combinations possible. Customers can also custom-etch their lenses with personalized inscriptions and logos.

The store also houses Oakley’s new Rx center, which is being rolled out in Oakley locations across the country. Using advanced digital equipment that Oakley helped develop, certified opticians fit customers in Oakley eyewear with optimal fit and clarity.

(Store concept design: Oakley, Foothill Ranch, California; Ceiling installation: Moment Factory, Outremont, Quebec, in collaboration with SITU Fabrication, Brooklyn, New York; and Fulkra, Los Angeles)

Urban Outfitters: Space Ninety 8, a new concept from Urban Outfitters, prioritizes the store experience, offering fashion, food and other lifestyle elements in a one-of-a-kind environment designed to connect with the local community. Located in a renovated warehouse in the hipster Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the 38,000-sq.-ft., multi-level space has an industrial look, complete with exposed ceilings and brick walls — and lots of boho-chic accents. From DJ parties to temporary installations (most recently, a bicycle-repair solutions vending machine tailored to the needs of urban cyclists), the store offers a changing lineup of activities and displays designed to keep the store experience fresh and new — and keep customers coming back.

From the bottom up, Space Ninety 8 has local appeal. The basement level is dedicated to a pop-up — Adidas Originals is the inaugural tenant — and is accented with colorful, bold prints (the work of a local artist).

The ground floor has a market area, a dedicated space that showcases goods from local designers and artisans, all of whom have created goods exclusive to the store. The floor also houses a vintage shop called Urban Renewal, a funky shoe boutique, and two in-store shops, or smaller pop-ups.

The second floor features Urban Outfitter’s womenswear collections, accessories, beauty products and home goods. The third floor houses the brand’s menswear collections, along with a curated selection of books and music. There is also a seating area and an iPhone charging station.

A short staircase in the men’s area leads to a bar area, and up from that is the New York outpost of the trendy Los Angeles eatery, The Gorbals. There is an outdoor extension of the restaurant and bar on the rooftop, along with scenic views of Manhattan and a flower shop.

Time Warner Cable: Sleek and technology-driven, the first-ever flagship of Time Warner Cable, in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, invites customers to immerse themselves in the company’s diverse offerings. The 14,000-sq.-ft. store features an open floor plan where customers can jump from TV to laptop to oversized-wall-mounted-tablet to experience and interact with the latest in home entertainment.

Touchscreen monitors and hands-on demo stations are located throughout the store, along with multiple-screen video walls and smaller signage tablets that highlight offerings. The showpiece of the space is a giant, 90-in. custom-built tablet that works like a real mobile device.

The modern, digitally savvy vibe is balanced with warm accents. A cozy living-room vignette showcases a digital fireplace as part of a smart security and home-management experience. And the comfortable seating encourages customers to linger.

Time Warner Cable plans to roll out refreshed prototypes based on the flagship design to hundreds more stores across its footprint.

(Design: Fame, Minneapolis; Digital installations: Reality Interactive, Middletown, Connecticut)

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