Since its founding in 1987, Aerosoles has prided itself on selling shoes that are “fashion-right and affordable.” But for its new flagship in New York, the Edison, N.J.-based company wanted a store that reflects its latest marketing message, which touts its shoes as being both stylish and comfortable.
Drawing inspiration from European boutiques, designers at C.M. Architecture P.A. (CMA, Minneapolis) created a 4000-square-foot retail space for Aerosoles in SoHo’s Cast Iron District that’s outfitted with clean lines, flexible displays and an art-gallery feel.
In keeping with the gallery motif, the store interior is predominantly white. “That gives the space a bright and expansive feel that highlights the shoes,” says project manager Tracy Borchardt. “Dark browns, wood veneers, leather seating and faux honed-marble tile provide texture and rich accents that complement the white.”
The store’s exterior is also dominated by white. But because the locale at 508 Broadway is part of a historic district where many of the buildings date to the late 19th Century, its façade had to meet strict design guidelines spelled out by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Committee. “We worked with the committee to create a façade that preserved the historical integrity of the building while also allowing the new signage to stand out,” says Borchardt.
Designers started by cleaning the exterior. Next, the façade was repainted in a historically accurate fashion. “That meant using two colors that are close in tone,” says Borchardt. “The trim was typically a little darker than the body of the façade, and we were able to find two white tones that filled that bill.”
Signage was another challenge. “The landmarks commission would not let us mechanically fasten the Aerosoles letters to the iron band above the façade, so we used special, heavy-duty two-way tape to affix them,” says Borchardt. Also, the letters could not be internally lit, so designers got permission to illuminate them with two small lamps.
Borchardt notes that many New York stores use large flags to draw attention. “But since such flags were not used in the late 19th Century, we were not allowed to have them,” he explains. “However, a short horizontal flagpole was present above the door, and we were able to hang a blade sign from that.”
Aerosoles is using the New York flagship as the basis for its “Signature” store design, which is being rolled out nationwide.
Client: Aerosoles, Edison, N.J. – Mark Mueller, vp, real estate
Design and Architecture: C.M. Architecture P.A. (CMA), Minneapolis – Tracy Borchardt, project manager; Jessica Iverson and Brian Niehaus, project design team
General Contractor: Argonaut Builders, Little Silver, N.J.
Outside Design Consultants: Ericksen Ellison and Associates Inc., St. Paul, Minn. (mechanical/plumbing/electrical engineering); Specialty Lighting Group, Hoboken, N.J. (lighting)
Fixtures/Furniture: Leiden Cabinet Co., Twinsburg, Ohio
Flooring: kate-lo tile & stone, Plymouth, Minn.
Lighting: Specialty Lighting Group, Hoboken, N.J.
Props and decoratives : Trinity Mfg., Metuchen, N.J.
Signage and Graphics: Alto Sign, Philadelphia
Stockroom Fixtures: Excalibur Shelving, Jackson, N.J.
Photography: Matthew Rodgers, New York