Ann Taylor unveils new store design at new Michigan Avenue location

In advance of the new Ann Taylor store opening on Michigan Avenue this Saturday, I chatted with Andrew Taylor, the brand’s style director, who risked missing his flight to Chicago to discuss the new location and how it’s going to differ from a typical store.

Ann Taylor, Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Retail Localization

Ann Taylor, Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Retail Localization

In advance of the new Ann Taylor store opening on Michigan Avenue this Saturday, I chatted with Andrew Taylor, the brand’s style director, who risked missing his flight to Chicago to discuss the new location and how it’s going to differ from a typical store.

(A quick bit of background: The current 10,400-square-foot Ann Taylor store at 600 N. Michigan Ave., is closing and will be replaced by an AT&T flagship store. The new Ann Taylor will be half the size — about 5,400 square feet — and move to the southern end of the same building.)

“It’s really more of a boutique format, residential-inspired store,” Mr. Taylor told me. “It’s been completely redone to offer a much better visual representation of the brand, which has become much more fashion-forward.”

Indeed, Ann Taylor has been rather substantially transformed over the past two years under Creative Director Lisa Axelson (whose résumé includes stints at Club Monaco and Banana Republic), consciously veering away from boring job-interview suits in favor of sleek, classic-yet-chic pieces, with lots of pencil skirts and drapey silk tops, plus statement accessories.

The new store will resemble what Mr. Taylor describes as a “chic, warm, modern” home with whitewashed maple floors, crystal chandeliers and tufted furniture.

Merchandise will be reorganized into career and casual zones, plus another accessories area. There will also be a private lounge area with a large touchscreen TV that provides access to the brand’s website for additional sizes and styles.

Mr. Taylor, a marketing/PR veteran, appeared most excited about a proprietary, flattering lighting system in the fitting rooms. The mirrors, it seems, will be backlit in order to prevent women from wanting to die while undressing. (My words, not his . . . though he did joke that he likes to go into the fitting rooms to boost his self-esteem.)

[via Chicago Business]

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