DDi - August 2011 - (Page 26)
Express’ fresh prototype design delivers a fashion-forward environment with a distinctive visual statement
By Vilma Barr
lthough less than 3 percent of the 591-unit Express chain have street locations, Michael Weiss, the retailer’s president and CEO, and his management team envisioned a new look for the next generation of stores. It had been nearly six years since a new store design concept had been introduced, and Express needed to keep pace with its customers’ sociology. The company imagined its mall stores as they would relate to a lively urban street setting, with large, inviting windows and interiors that would reflect the energy of a busy metropolitan shopping district. The Columbus, Ohio-based $1.9 billion organization (separated from its Limited Brands roots since 2007) would still target its core shoppers of 20-something men and women. Now, however, Express stores would communicate its familiar brand with a shopping experience linked to its market’s 2011 lifestyle.
“Clothes in motion” was the theme for the major visual elements in Express’ new store design concept.
Michele La Grego, senior vice president of visual and store design for Express, was asked by Weiss to recommend a design consultant. “It was time to take the best of what we know how to do and apply it to a new store design concept,” she explains. “We needed to work with a designer who understood our key item and fashion assortment approach and could bring a fresh viewpoint to our merchandise presentation and the store environment.” La Grego’s research led her to evaluate the dossiers of 60 designers around the world. She concluded that the firm that would come closest to producing the results set forth in the Express design brief was Tokyo-based Wonderwall, already recognized for its work in the United States and Paris for Uniqlo and Colette. La Grego invited Masamichi Katayama, Wonderwall founder and principal, to the United States to tour the Express
sites selected for the prototypes—a 13,300-sq.-ft. store in the King of Prussia Mall, near Philadelphia, and the 9,200-sq.-ft. unit in Kenwood Towne Center, Cincinnati. La Grego pointed out the four Express categories: casual, wear-to-work, jeans and party attire. “We told him that our customers shop off the mannequins. He responded that he could foresee the store as a ‘three-dimensional fashion magazine.’” The idea, she agreed, would give new meaning to the axiom of retailing as theater. From this initial mental sketch, the design team created the major core elements based on a clothes-in-motion concept: glass-encased mannequins, elevated multi-mannequin runways and circular platforms for individual or grouped mannequins. To apply the streetfront image, open-back windows were enlarged to full width and height, to allow views into the store. “We also made the
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of DDi - August 2011
DDi - August 2011
From the Editor
From the Show Director
Channel Focus: Green
Big-impact visualShopping with Paco
Store Windows Showcase
Shopping with Paco
DDi - August 2011