Nike has unveiled its stunning new flagship store on Manhattan’s illustrious Fifth Avenue and it’s a six-floor immersive brand temple that seeks to redefine the retail experience.
Real life shopping has been given a run for its money by its online counterpart. Surpassed in terms of efficiency and convenience, most physical retail spaces, particularly on this Midtown stretch of Fifth Avenue, have been turned into shrines of worship for each brand, where tourists (and only the most faithful devotees) dare to pay homage.
It’s along this glittering stretch of Midtown Manhattan that Nike has chosen to open its landmark store. Spanning six floors and measuring 68,000sq ft, the Nike House of Innovation 000 is a carefully orchestrated retail experience that will hypnotise both fans and passers-by, alike. Designed as a celebration of the sports brand’s trailblazing spirit, the store gives visitors a peek behind the curtain of how things are done and created at Nike.
The store hits its stride even before visitors enter the building. Its eye-catching façade, made from slumped and carved glass that bestows a kinetic effect, is inspired by the blur of movement left by a speeding athlete. The diagonal tilt of the entryway mimics the angle of the swoosh, while the translucency of the overall exterior also alludes to the iconic look of a Nike Air sole. Even the triangular entrance foyer was inspired by how a runner explodes off the starting block.
‘The biggest thing for us is the world of retail is drastically changing. The opportunity here for us was to look forward to the future,’ says Andy Thaemert, Nike’s senior creative director of global store design. ‘Looking up and down Fifth Avenue and doing an audit of the concrete canyon and the density of it, how do we create a sense of disruption and distortion of what’s here.’
He continues, ‘Taking that into consideration and thinking about what’s relevant to the brand now – what’s that first impression of the future of sport and Nike innovation? It’s an idea of lightweight speed. It’s where the brand founded and it’s always going to be relevant to the brand in the future.’
That futuristic vision is fully articulated inside the store where on the ground floor, a full-scale digital billboard, which can both be programmed to fit the message at hand, and animated digital graphics pack a punch. Here, a custom-designed experience articulating a different facet of the Nike world will rotate every six weeks; for the opening, it houses an experimental Nike by You customisation space, where visitors can see how that offering is treated first hand.
‘This [Nike Arena] space is built like a soundstage but activated like an exploritorium and a runway,’ explains Thaemert, ‘The space is essentially a black box that enables stories to come to life in a variety of different manners. It’s a raised steel platform that can be replaced with different flooring. All the power is accessible down below. The ceiling infrastructure is rigged for theatrical lighting, so the idea around the architecture is that it’s not going to fight with storytelling but enable it.’
Each floor of the flagship consistently reinforces this holistic integration of design. From the terrazzo flooring, which boasts brightly coloured flecks actually made from recycled Nike cleats, to lounge-like fitting room areas and the world’s largest sneaker floor, equipped with interactive digital displays that delve into Nike’s most coveted new releases, there is no shortage of features on offer. For the Nike familiarist, a speed shop filled with the brand’s top ten bestselling essentials, located on the basement floor, makes it easy grab what you’re missing and go.
The immersive Nike experience spins retail conventions on its head. Throughout the store, Nike app users will be able to make use of a host of tech-driven digital services like the store’s Instant Check Out feature (a self-service checkout that means no waiting in line at the cash wrap) or Shop the Look, where pairs of shoes or entire outfits can be sent to a fitting room to be tried on.
Finally, in the Nike Expert studio on the top floor, NikePlus members will be able to book personal shopping appointments or wield a host of customisation services, including cut-and-sew options for the brand’s latest clothing releases. Could anyone ask for more?