Foot Locker: Just for Kicks
Foot Locker’s new house of brands welcomes footwear fans with a mega-store in the heart of New York’s Times Square
In an era where cool kicks are both statement and investment pieces, the popularity of athleisure is still growing and street style reigns supreme, Foot Locker decided to answer the call of footwear fans by opening a completely redesigned mega-store in Manhattan’s Times Square.
Last August, joined by NBA star Joakim Noah with marching band Brooklyn United sounding the alarm, the athletic footwear and apparel giant debuted a revamped store occupying nearly 10,000 sq. ft. of prime retail space, drawing local and international “sneaker freaks.”
Foot Locker’s redesign tackled rethinking the store’s layout and merchandising approach. Rather than displaying products organized by category, the Foot Locker team—with the help of Columbus, Ohio-based Big Red Rooster, a JLL company—opted to let customers self-navigate by creating branded shops within.
The game plan was to use customers’ brand allegiance as a guiding force from a retail design perspective and as a winning business strategy in an era that has seen some of Foot Locker’s competitors folding, while companies like Nike, Under Armour and adidas are opening branded houses and boutique sneaker shops that are becoming significant players in major cities.
“As a house of brands, it couldn’t look like just a series of shops under one roof,” says Aaron Spiess, executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) and co-founder and former CEO of Big Red Rooster. He found that one of the biggest design feats was not having brands’ spaces clash, while also continuing to push forward the Foot Locker message overall.
“Making the brand shops and zones flow seamlessly was a challenge,” Spiess says. “The store is comprised of shop-in-shops that take on their own personalities. We needed to achieve a balance for being on brand for Foot Locker, but also allow these brand shops to express themselves and cut through.”
In displaying a range of different merchandisers’ offerings—from sneakers to T-shirts to socks to laces—flexibility was a crucial factor, since the fixture system needed the ability to tell different brand stories with varying levels of inventory, Spiess explains. “We needed to give the retailer the ability to change the flow of the experience to be continually fresh and relevant to their consumer,” he adds.
Brands like the Puma Lab, adidas Foundation, House of Hoops and Foot Locker’s SIX:02, created for the athletic-driven, style-conscious modern woman, have “brand portals at the entry to their space,” Spiess describes. Meanwhile, he says, other brands have space within their zone for call-outs and new release communications.
“The branded shops provide the consumer with an ultimate sense of discovery and dynamic brand communication,” says Danette Kroll, vice president of store planning and design, Foot Locker.
The flagship store “combines cutting-edge design with strategic initiatives to provide our consumer with an impactful and innovative space to shop and buy,” Kroll adds.
With the store offering so many options, it’s critical shoppers can quickly single out their favorites, so brands’ attitudes via distinct colors and materials were played up within square and rectangular frames within the wall system, Spiess explains, allotting for “unique brand expression with consistency in how and where the brand is expressed. It gives the space the visual continuity it needs to feel like a cohesive experience.”
Big Red Rooster and Foot Locker, which had collaborated together on past projects, worked for two to three months on the design process, deciding to take a “footwear first” approach to visual merchandising and introduce apparel and accessories to “tell richer stories,” Spiess notes.
One of the most successful in-shop experiences is Foot Locker’s introduction of its carefully curated SIX:02 line to New York and the accompanying 700-sq.-ft. “The Collection at SIX:02” space of rotating merchandise. Big names like Nike and adidas are paired with more boutique lines with cult followings like Ivy Park, FENTY PUMA by Rihanna and Spiritual Gangster for the elevated, hipster yogi. White brick walls, light wood flooring, digital content boards and clean fixtures distinguish a chicer, fashion-conscious tone within the store, calling out fitness-oriented women who can relate to “the urban feel of the materials,” Spiess says.
SIX:02 “speaks to our female consumer with fashion-forward focus and allows her to ‘express her style and own her moment,’” Kroll notes, while The Collections space offers “a unique shopping experience of ever-changing storytelling” and “elevated styling service,” too.
“There is a blending of the elements of design studio and gym,” Spiess says. “The platforms, racks and wall panels allow the environment to constantly evolve and be an expression of what’s hot. The Collection is a rotational space that requires a commitment to rapid change. The space was designed to have a ‘skeletal’ fixture system that could easily transform into a different brand experience monthly.”
And while SIX:02 might resonate with one woman, another might be easily drawn to Puma’s white and red neon-lit, sleek, boxed-in black shelving units or adidas’ exclusive conceptual space, dubbed The Foundation. The point is that the styles don’t compete, but “live together and are all equally compelling,” Spiess explains.
Beyond honoring brand storytelling, it was also important to create a destination that spoke to the modern, tech-driven shopper’s interests.
“We wanted to create a destination for ‘sneakerheads’—an inclusive place where people feel comfortable and inspired,” Spiess says. To that effect, plenty of seating throughout the space lets people not only try on sneakers and watch videos, but also encourages them to “pause, take a selfie and just enjoy the vibe,” he adds. “It needed to be a place where fashion, music and art intersect. The space has a lot of energy, because it incorporates all of these elements.”
One of Spiess’ favorite moments hones in on the on-brand “iconic” escalators that greet shoppers coming in from bustling 34th Street, featuring tinted red glass, red handrails and glowing white light.
To the right, a timeline created by a New York artist takes consumers through a brief history of Foot Locker, while the left wall is made up of a cool, multilevel media display that wows visitors making their way up to the second story where the merchandise is housed.
Shoppers can look forward to Snapchat-worthy “unique interactive activation moments,” like the LED wall, which offers sporty eye candy and acts “as a powerful messaging piece that allows for digital integration of athlete communications, social media, event calendar postings, product launch and in-store promotions to create an enhanced retail experience that connects the consumer to relevant content of sneaker culture,” Kroll says.
With no product offered on the first level, Spiess says “a dynamic decompression zone needed to be created to move the traffic up the escalator” from the entry to the goods upstairs. “Technology is used to attract, direct and inspire customers,” he adds.
Customers, meanwhile, are rewarded with brightly lit wall upon wall of the newest, most coveted sneakers on the streets, like the Nike Hyperdunk Flyknits (so fresh that views of the top of the shoes and the bottom of the soles are displayed side by side). Foot Locker also offers limited releases of throwback “Old School” retro styles, plus customization options.
In a culture of keeping up with the kicks, it’s important for shoppers to have access to a constantly rotating assortment of the hottest options, and “foot traffic has been fantastic,” Kroll says.
Fresh new digs, for fresh new kicks that keep shoppers coming back for more.
Foot Locker Times Square Flagship Store
CONTRACT DESIGN FIRM
Big Red Rooster, a JLL company
Tricarico Architecture and Design PC
JT Magen and Co. Inc.
The Eipel Engineering Group (structural engineer), Robert Derector Telecommunications (low voltage engineer), Robert Derector Associates (fire protection engineer), Gardiner and Theobald Inc. (project and cost manager)
ALU; Progressive Fixture Solutions; VIRA; idX; Premier Fixtures; B&N Industries Inc.; RTL Creative Inc. Design, Manufactured by Narrow Mountain (Puma Lab); NOA; Steelab
Level One Inc., Ganter
Capital Lighting, Lighting Work Shop
Diamatic USA, Storefloors
Hamilton Parker (brick), Texture Plus (CMU panels)
DPJ Signs, Activate the Space (LED screens)
Wolf Gordon, Arte USA, MDC
Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore
Porcelanosa, Viridian, coloredge, GLV
Activate the Space (Bose equipment)
Activate the Space (LED screens)
Information in the project file is provided by the retailer and/or design firm.