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SIX:02 Puts Fashionable Spin on Fitness

BY Marianne Wilson

Fitness and fashion are well met at Foot Locker’s newest retail banner, SIX:02. Targeting active, performance-minded young women, the lifestyle brand features apparel, footwear and accessories for a range of activities, from yoga to running to dance — and more.

“SIX:02 is a fitness-fashion destination,” said Mary Lynn Waite, senior designer, Chute Gerdeman, Columbus, Ohio. “The merchandise has crossover appeal in that it can take the customer from the gym to doing errands to meeting friends for coffee to lounging at home.”

Launched in Stamford Town Center, Stamford, Conn., SIX:02 has since expanded to six additional locations (and recently launched its own web site). Residential cues and a warm, welcoming vibe help distinguish the format.

“We used woods and classic residential pieces, such as fixtures with fluted table bases,” Waite said.

Expansive storefront windows call out SIX:02’s crossover message by featuring multi-layered looks. Reclaimed wood on the façade adds texture and warmth.

The interior has a contemporary, modern look and loft-like feel, with hardwood floors, clear sight lines and pops of the brand’s signature color, citron. A curated collection of framed lifestyle photography adds another residential element.

“The store reflects the customer’s modern sense of style,” Waite said. “It’s meant to make her feel right at home.

A mix of eclectic fixtures that mixes the furniture-inspired pieces with metal rolling racks, smooth white units and other modern forms is used to display the store’s mix of folded, hanging and face-out merchandise.

“After researching this customer, we thought an eclectic mix was the right way to speak to her,” Waite said.

Some of the goods, such as workout bras, are displayed on slat walls that resemble white brick or wood planks. T-shirt boxes are grouped together on the wall, essentially forming a “billboard” of must-have graphic tees.

Mannequins are grouped throughout the store, displaying how the layered looks make it easy for the customer to go from the gym and on her way without missing a beat while looking stylish every stop along the way. A key focal area emphasizes SIX:O2’s crossover story by pairing trendier merchandise with more athletic items to create looks that are fashionable as well as fitness inspired.

In another nod to the crossover message, shoes are merchandised throughout the space to allow customers to see how they work together with the apparel for a stylish head-to-toe look. (Performance footwear is merchandised on the wall as a destination for shoppers who are most interested in function.)

The fitting room area is accented with moldings and such other residential elements as a large-scale leaning mirror, grey and white striped wallpaper, and upholstered furniture.

“We wanted to make the fitting room area very comfortable,” Waite explained, “with a lounge where you can sit if you are shopping with friends.”

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Mad for Mannequins

BY Marianne Wilson

A must-see fashion exhibit at The Brooklyn Museum in New York City is doing double duty, offering a retrospective of the 30-year-plus career of avant-garde designer Jean Paul Gaultier, while also providing a showcase for a collection of show-stealing, crowd-pleasing mannequins. But what do mannequins in a museum exhibit have to do with retail?

“The mannequins [in the exhibit] give retailers insight into how to turn ordinary window or in-store displays into a museum-caliber tableau that can make shoppers literally stop in their tracks,” said Lucie Jolicoeur, president and CEO, Jolicoeur International, Quebec, Canada, which designed and manufactured the mannequins.

Approximately 140 mannequins are included in the exhibit, “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.” All the mannequins were created specifically for the exhibition, which originated at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Of the 140 mannequins, some 30 are animated. High-tech and amazingly realistic, the animated mannequins actually seem alive at first glance. Some laugh, some wink; others smile or whistle; and still others speak. Gaultier is honored with his own look-alike form, which warmly welcomes visitors in both French and English.

The animation effects are accomplished by a high-definition audiovisual system that includes projecting facial images onto the mannequins. The animated mannequins are the result of a collaboration between Jolicoeur, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and UBU Creations, Montreal, which made the animated heads.

“The challenge for Jolicoeur was to ensure that the neck of each animated mannequin be constructed in such a manner that it securely holds the cumbersome equipment to project the animation onto the face,” Jolicoeur explained. “We achieved this by sculpting a lifelike neck and camouflaging any anomalies with coatings of fiber glass.”

The remaining 110 mannequins, while not animated, also break new ground, from their unique poses to the use of multiple color finishes. “The mannequins in the exhibit illustrate a strong trend toward more lifelike colors, textures and finishes,” Jolicoeur explained. “The days of one-color-fits-all are fast disappearing.”

The mannequins also stand out for their various skin tones, which closely match different ethnicities and nationalities. (Gaultier is known for his runway models, who come from different continents and different regions within those continents.)

“This is key for retail chains operating in fashion capitals around the world where shoppers come in a variety of skin tones,” Jolicoeur said.

LOOKING AHEAD

As to whether animated mannequins have a future in retail, Jolicoeur believes they do, but they will remain custom items.

“On the other hand, we will see more and more high-tech mannequins that incorporate the hardware and software to fulfill such functions as camera surveillance, traffic-flow monitoring and the dispensation of customer information,” he said. “Mannequin manufacturers, including Jolicoeur International, are right now gearing up to create molds that can accommodate the equipment needed to meet customer demands for this new ‘smart’ technology, and at prices that make such equipment affordable add-ons to a regular container order.”

The exhibition, “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk,” will be at The Brooklyn Museum until Feb. 23, 2014.

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Big Savings for REI

BY Marianne Wilson

Retailers are constantly on the hunt for energy savings, and data centers offer huge potential: By 2020, data centers could consume 10% of all U.S. power, according to some experts. Here’s how outdoor gear and apparel retailer Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) is working to reduce energy costs and its environmental footprint in this critical area of operations.

REI has long been on the leading-edge of efforts to conserve energy and reduce its overall impact on the environment. Its most recent effort involves a retrofit of the layout and cooling system of its data center in Kent, Wash.

The initiative, done in partnership with Austin, Texas-based energy efficiency firm CleaResult, Austin, Texas, and utility provider Puget Sound Energy, has resulted in a 93% reduction in the cooling energy used to operate the facility.

The retrofit uses “free cooling” via a rooftop evaporator cooling tower to keep servers at optimal temperature. The system, from CleaResult, reduces the need for mechanical cooling nearly year-round, or about 8,672 hours annually.

REI estimates that the retrofit saves energy to power six of its stores, or approximately 2.2 million kilowatt hours a year. The efficiencies also translate into improved business resiliency and stability in the event of a regional power outtage.

In addition to rooftop cooling technology, the retrofit included the upgrade of backup battery banks, the removal of old power distribution units and the installation of floor brush barriers and curtain systems to contain cold air in critical areas.

Also, the subfloor cabling was rewired to optimize airflow under the raised floor. Because of the efficiencies gained, REI also reconfigured its redundant power supply.

“By examining our operations through a sustainability lens, we’ve achieved financial and environmental benefits and met our goals to increase efficiency, minimize disruptions and reduce our footprint,” said Kirk Myers, corporate social responsibility manager, REI.

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