The international fashion brand unveils its biggest and boldest U.S. location to date.
For most retailers, a handful of stores in New York would mark a strong presence in one of the world’s shopping capitals. But that wasn’t enough for Spanish fashion retailer Zara, which operated seven stores in New York until this past March, when the brand opened a new flagship that serves as an international icon.
More than $320 million changed hands last year to secure the site at 666 Fifth Avenue in the iconic Tishman building. The new location neighbors Uniqlo’s global flagship on one side and Hollister on the other.
Following a complete revamp of the space, the three-level, 32,000-square-foot store seeks to reinstate the pure modernism of the building’s exterior with a white-box-meets-fashion-runway interior.
“Because of its uniquely prestigious location and visual design, Zara’s new store has the makings of a global flagship,” says a Zara spokesperson.
The interior was created by Elsa Urquijo Architects, a firm from La Coruña, the Spanish city where Zara is based. The design gives Zara’s shopping environment more architectural character than was evident in its traditional retail format, says architect Elsa Urquijo. Practically, this means that the basement and first floor have long, thin aisles (dubbed “virtual catwalks” by the retailer) that lead from the front to the back of the shop. Off each of these aisles is a series of semi-discrete rooms that allow shoppers to make sense of this relatively narrow store, while providing an “interference-free interface with Zara’s products,” according to the retailer.
The store, in fact, follows a prototype designed by Elsa Urquijo Architects for a shopping center in La Coruña, where the same long lines draw shoppers deeper into the setting. In New York, this is possible thanks to lower-than-normal mid-floor fixturing and moving images on LED displays at the back of the store.
The lighting also helps. In place of the usual high levels of ambient light, the ground floor, for example, has narrow strips of built-in lights contained within a suspended ceiling and running from front to back. Each of the rooms off the catwalk is lit by small LED spots, putting the focus solely on the products rather than the store itself.
In other stores, “too often the shopper’s eye flits back and forth in an effort to scan too many items within her range of vision,” a Zara spokesperson says. “This new design prompts her to move intuitively from one compartment to the next.”
However, it’s the new materials palette that really marks this location as above-standard. Resin and striped aluminum are used for the fixtures and polished tile covers the flooring throughout the store.