Does North Face’s new concept point the chain in the right direction?
The North Face has opened a store in SoHo with a new look and experiential bent, and it’s already planning to expand the new layout into the rest of its locations nationwide.
The North Face’s new store, which opened in early August, was constructed to better represent the meaning of the brand rather than merely being a place where transactions are made, according to Footwear News. The retailer has incorporated a “museum” in the 8,000-square-foot location dedicated to athletic expeditions and classic products, with in-store staff to be known as “guides.” Elements of the store are constructed using reclaimed and sustainable materials with an eye toward longevity. The North Face plans to have the new format rolled out in all of its locations by 2024.
A press release confirms that the move is part of a global retail strategy that will extend beyond the U.S. to its locations in Europe.
Store concepts that reflect the feel of a brand, rather than acting strictly as repositories for product, have grown in popularity as consumers have started to demand more out of the shopping experience. This is especially true in areas of specialty retail that enjoy dedicated fans.
Athletic shoe store Foot Locker, for instance, has begun to build out standalone locations featuring lifestyle-adjacent products, activities and media events tailored towards its “sneakerhead” shopping base. In athleisure wear, Lululemon recently announced the launch of larger stores featuring cafes, yoga studios, meditation spaces and the like.
Particularly in the outdoor gear space, retailers have made creative sustainability initiatives part of their branding. In 2018, REI announced the implementation of enhanced sustainability standards governing all of the products that it sells. Patagonia has made moves like publicly donating its Black Friday profits to environmental charities.
The use of sustainable materials to build out the store recalls another recent initiative by The North Face, its “Clothes the Loop” program.
“Clothes the Loop,” initially piloted in 2013 and given a broad rollout in 2015, according to Recycling Today, allows customers to bring in clothing and footwear from any brand, which The North Face then recycles or reuses to produce new product.
- Retail Intel: The North Face Unveils New Exploration-Themed Store Concept in NYC – Footwear News
- The North Face Unveils Global Retail Strategy with Opening of New SoHo Location – North Face/PRNewswire
- North Face expands Clothes the Loop – Recycling Today
- REI lifts the sustainability bar – RetailWire
- Patagonia to donate all Black Friday profits to green groups – RetailWire
- Will a strategy built around changing peoples lives transform Lululemon’s business? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think The North Face is making a smart move by going “experiential” in all of its locations nationwide? Are features like in-store museums worth the investment in areas outside of flagship stores such as the one in SoHo?