The year-long waiting lists for Birkins and Botkiers are a thing of the past now that the hot “It” bag trend has cooled. So the fashion industry searches for the next must-have category. LensCrafters (Mason, Ohio) thinks that might be eyewear.
The company’s old mantra – glasses in about an hour – has been co-opted by discounters like Costco and Wal-Mart. “While still important, the notion of being quick and efficient is no longer the point of differentiation that it once was,” says Christian Davies, vp and creative director at FRCH, the Cincinnati-based design firm that worked with LensCrafters.
And as the company’s primary consumer shifts toward a more fashion-forward proposition, LensCrafters had to update its selection. “Optical eyewear is not only functional, it’s becoming big in fashion accessories,” says Jill Widmer, vp of brand development for LensCrafters. “We believe it’s like jewelry for the face.”
Yet even with adding such prestigious names as Prada, Bvlgari and Chanel to its shelves, the retailer had never convinced customers of its foray into high-fashion. So FRCH and LensCrafters worked to revamp the existing store environment to better suit the designer frames.
Based on its successful prototype mall store in Louisville, Ky., the LensCrafters’ Fifth Avenue flagship (Fifth Avenue at 45th Street) is sleek and stylish, using a simple brown and white color scheme and backlighting to bring the focus on the glasses. “We used reductive design to take the things that worked incredibly well for the Louisville store and simplified them for this flagship space,” says Davies.
One of those elements was dividing the prescription and retail segments of the store. No longer would customers shopping for Guccis hear conversations about glaucoma, making the experience less like a doctor’s visit and more like a group gab session about style. “The new environment fosters a social event, tailoring to how females shop with seating areas and an open floor plan,” says Sara Sullivan, interior designer at FRCH.
But while the space works to make females more at ease, designers were careful not to exclude the male consumer. “Most men are uncomfortable talking about style and hate to try things on in public,” says Davies. “So we had to develop a way for these guys to shop without drawing a lot of attention.” The design team created a wooden tray that shoppers can fill up with frames while browsing, allowing pressure-free exploration of different styles.
And so far, the tray has been successful in encouraging multiple sales and making LensCrafters easier to shop for both sexes. “One woman filled up two trays,” Davies says. “The customer is very comfortable with this new way of shopping.”
Client: Luxottica Retail Group, Mason, Ohio - Jill Widmer, vp, brand development; Bink Zengel, director, retail design, branded environments; Jay Kratz, architectural design manager, branded environments; Jeff Renner, project manager, construction and special projects; Elizabeth Kokotajlo, graphic design manager, branded environments; Tim Sheldon, industrial designer; Frank Robertshaw, director of special projects; Peggy Colvin, environmental graphic designer
Design/Architect: FRCH Design Worldwide, Cincinnati - Christian Davies, vp and creative director; Monica Gerhardt, project director; Jeff Siegel, operation director; Lori Kolthoff, director, resource design; Robyn Novak, senior interior designer; Sara Sullivan, interior designer; Frank Mulich, architect; Brandon Janszen, architect; Alex Weber, graphic designer; Greg Smith, graphic designer
General Contractor: Madesin General Contractors Ltd., Mississauga, Ont.
Outside Design Consultant: P.M.E., Kohrs Lonnemann Heil, Fort Thomas, Ky.
Fixtures: Bruewer Woodwork Mfg. Co., Cleeves, Ohio; Marlite, Cincinnati; Stylmark, Minneapolis
Ceiling: Armstrong Ceiling, Cincinnati
Lighting: Eurofase, Richmond Hill, Ont.
Furniture: WE Gingell Associates Inc., Livonia, Mich.; Rytel and Associates, Cincinnati; Bill Thomason and Associates, Cincinnati; APG - Herman Miller, Cincinnati; Frames Artonomy, Cincinnati
Paint: Mathews Paint Co., Petersburg, Tenn.
Laminate: Wilsonart Intl., Columbus, Ohio; Lamin-Art, Schaumburg, Ill.
Wallcoverings: Wolf Gordon, Lakewood, Ohio
Flooring: Louisville Tile, Cincinnati
Carpet: Lees Carpets, Kennesaw, Ga.
Photography: Mark Steele Photography, Columbus, Ohio