What are the new minority? Nearly 70 percent of American women are size 12 or up.
But where is the fashion for those women who identify more with Camryn Manheim than with Cameron Diaz?
Plus-size clothing retailer Lane Bryant has always positioned itself as the answer for customers who want to wear the latest fashions, but have trouble finding them in their sizes. Recently, Chute Gerdeman (Columbus, Ohio) worked with the design team at Lane Bryant to step up to the fashion plate and establish a presence on 34th Street in New York.
"We tried to create a dramatic statement beginning with our awning," says Tony Oliver, Chute Gerdeman's creative director, environments. "Something customers could see down the street and recognize as Lane Bryant. The awning plays off some of the patterns in the store, while the main color, Navajo red, is tied to interior accents and is becoming part of the brand."
On either side of the focal awning are two large show windows. Each window features a backlit Lane Bryant logo within a signature "L" frame, oversized graphics and numerous women's size 14 mannequins, from Greneker (Los Angeles), that emphasize the retailer's fashion-forward intent.
"These show windows are a great way to get our revived image on the outside of the store," says Oliver.
Inside, a fashion runway featuring the mannequins and new products leads to the back, where a bright Navajo red accent wall stands out behind the cashwrap. On either side of the runway, existing columns were designed to show mannequins on top and merchandise below. The backs of the columns are clad in wood and integrate mirrors so that every side is utilized.
"One of our biggest goals was to showcase outfits," says Chute Gerdeman program director Mindi Trank, "so the column arrangements showed the looks together and then featured the products beneath. The Greneker mannequins are a true women's size 14, modeled after the Lane Bryant customer."
The existing walls and columns in the space lent themselves to collection statements that felt like departments within a store, such as in the Intimates area.
"We wanted to get away from the conventional graphic at the back of the store," says Oliver. "We wanted to do something that spoke to fashion, so we placed mannequins there."
Round panty tables are also new to Lane Bryant, designed to get as much product out on the floor as possible.
The store's ceiling presented another architectural challenge. To avoid renovation, a dropped ceiling element houses feature lighting that highlights the runway mannequins. It also corresponds with some of the storefront elements, like the intersecting planes, the stylized "L" and the awning pattern.
"This was a complete launch and departure from where Lane Bryant was," says Oliver. "It has inspired them onto the next generation of stores."
Client: Lane Bryant/Charming Shoppes, Bensalem, Pa.
Tom Carr, store design director, Charming Shoppes
Kolby Veenstra, senior brand presentation manager, Lane Bryant
Jon Nubbemeyer, director of construction, Charming Shoppes
Design: Chute Gerdeman, Columbus, Ohio
Mindi Trank, program director
Tony Oliver, creative director, environments
Eric Daniel, creative director, graphics
Steve Pottschmidt, director, design development
Carmen Costinescu, materials specialist
Mark Uskavitch, graphic designer
Chris Garvey, junior designer
Outside Design Consultant: Grenald Waldron Associates, Philadelphia (lighting)
General Contractor: Schimenti Construction Co., Mount Kisco, N.Y.
Fixtures/Millwork: TC Millwork, Bensalem, PA
Garvey, Red Bank, N.J.
Flooring: Crossville Porcelain, Crossville, Tenn.
Crossley Carpet Mills, Touro, Nova Scotia
Laufen, Tulsa, Okla.
Ceiling: Newmat USA, Huntington, N.Y.
Lighting: Specialty Store Lighting, Centerbrook, Conn.
Decorative Plastics: American Acrylic Corp., West Babylon, N.Y.
Sama Plastics, Carstadt, N.J.
3-Form, Salt Lake City
Mannequins/Forms: Greneker Solutions, Los Angeles
Wood Veneers: Veneer Specialists, Chicago
Paint: Sherwin Williams, Garfield Heights, Ohio
Benjamin Moore, Montvale, N.J.
Storefront Canopy: Big Apple Visual Group, Islandia, N.Y.
Photography: Jon Simon, New York