With 80 stores throughout Mexico – and nearly 80 years of experience under its belt – high-end department store chain Liverpool certainly understands Mexican culture and particularly its loyal customer base. “It’s a store for the whole family, and the way Mexicans shop. Going to the store is a family event,” says Claudia Cerchiara, vp at FRCH Design Worldwide (Cincinnati). “They have a cultural expression: ‘Family is everything.’ ”
Looking toward its “future customers” – namely, teens – Liverpool has begun unveiling new store designs that convey a more fashion-forward image. Its six-floor Polanco store had undergone piecemeal renovations since its 1970s opening in an iconic building, which also housed two floors of corporate headquarters. When those offices were relocated to a new building, the retailer took the opportunity to revamp its interior and elevate its fashion offering. FRCH was tapped with creating a contemporary look that would attract new customers without alienating the existing ones.
The design team’s first task was to connect the building’s interior with its architectural footprint. “The building is a triangular shape with curved sides but the rooms were square,” says HeeSun Kim, design director at FRCH. A new boulevard concept complements the exterior architecture, adds feminine curves and lets customers discover the store as they go through it.
FRCH also dialed up the light and dialed down the color. White ceilings and reflective white tile floors create a bright, neutral backdrop for the merchandise. Light and dark gray lines overhead act as natural wayfinding, following the curved layout while lending masculinity to the design. Splashes of color – including Liverpool’s signature hot pink – appear sparingly to reinforce the brand and punch up the otherwise neutral space. “The main idea was to conserve the feminine attitude of the store, but not so much that it would turn off male customers,” says Iliana Davila, project manager at Liverpool.
The expanded space also allowed designers to introduce trend zones, which highlight a carefully edited sample of the store’s premier offerings. “The trend zones really respond to this new customer and the family as a whole,” explains Paul Lechleiter, chief creative officer at FRCH. “People want advice, and trend zones give people ideas about what’s cool, what’s now, mixed with more traditional merchandise.”
Black rectangular boxes and red and black mannequins lend a fashion-runway feel in the men’s and women’s trend zones. Ceiling-mounted and perimeter hardware allows for modularity. For example, mannequins can be suspended from above, while graphics are changed seasonally to keep the displays fresh.
To keep customers moving up through the space, designers introduced iconic elements on each floor: a collections area on the men’s floor, a full-sized carrousel on the children’s floor and a furniture tower on the top floor. And a colorful, dangling sculpture accentuates the building’s curved central stairwell.
The Polanco store is already benefiting from the redesign.Sales at the restaurant, which relocated from the third floor to the ground floor, are up 20 percent, people are spending more time in the store, and the new design is attracting new customers, says Davila. But time will tell whether the new design, which Kim calls a “hyperprototype,” will make its way into other Liverpool stores.
In fact, FRCH has created several store designs for the retailer – one opened in 2010. Davila says Liverpool will decide mid-year which design direction to pursue in future stores. But, as Cerchiara notes, “In Mexico, they don’t roll out the same design; they evolve. And this design is really a continuation of ideas that will evolve with the customer.”
Retailer: Liverpool, Mexico City, Mexico
Design: FRCH Design Worldwide, Cincinnati; Outside Design Consultant; Lighting Workshop Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y. (lighting)
Fixtures: Grupo Huitzilin, Mexico City, Mexico; PC Proyectos, Mexico City, Mexico
Flooring: Grupo Porcelanosa, Mexico City, Mexico
Lighting: Lightmex, Mexico City, Mexico
Mannequins/Forms: Mondo Mannequins, Hicksville, N.Y.; Greneker, Los Angeles; Expor Mannequins, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Window Mannequins, Carros, France