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Blog: Visions of New York

A trip to the city is always good for inspiration and ideas



Everyone knows New York gets a burst of activity every fall as retailers and designers work overtime to bring their latest concepts and storefronts to shoppers (and tourists) in time for the all-important holiday season.

But it’s not just about finding a space, throwing some merchandise inside and calling it a day. New York has always demanded something more. Thankfully, 2011 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to additions to your must-see list for your next visit to the city.

For starters, look no further than Fifth Avenue – and this issue’s cover story – to see Uniqlo’s massive new flagship, which spans three levels, features more than 300 mannequins and employs an impressive visual merchandising staff. “You can’t come to Fifth Avenue and be lightweight,” says Les Hiscoe, vp, retail group, Shawmut Design and Construction (New York).

There was a time when a fast-fashion merchant on Fifth Avenue seemed an unlikely neighbor. But today, the street’s mixing pot is growing, as retailers like Uniqlo (click here for more) and Swatch join long-standing and respected anchors, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, in retail harmony.

There’s also new activity on lower Fifth, where retailers like Joe Fresh and New Balance are setting up shop, further transforming one of retail’s most venerable avenues.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s Harry Cunningham compares this retail cohabitation to the mixing of fashion labels that became a statement a few years back (think Gap t-shirt with Armani skirt). “It’s a good strategy for retailers,” he says.


Both Hiscoe and Cunningham will join VMSD’s panel discussion on Fifth Avenue flagships during the annual A.R.E. Retail Design Collective, on Thursday, December 8 at 9:30 a.m. Our session will cover what it takes to make it on the avenue circa 2011 and beyond and those concepts that illustrate best-design approaches. (Plus, attendees get a free map of Fifth Avenue hotspots to guide their post-RDC city-seeing.)

In this post-recession retail landscape, there’s plenty of available space for the next big idea. We just need some bold thinking, fresh initiatives and yes, some capital, to turn those dreams into reality.

New York has always represented the best of retail, chock full of creativity and inspiration that’s ripe for the picking. I look forward to walking its streets next month, taking in all the sights and sounds and filling my mind with ideas and hope for the coming year ahead.

From the staff of VMSD and ST Media Group, we wish you a happy holiday season.





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