From Lanvin’s illustrative graphic cover to the classic Lady Dior quilted handbag, we’ve seen our fair share of retailers building excitement around soon-to-be open stores with creative, eye-catching shrouds. While there’s something to be said for this buzz-building introduction, some retailers are taking a different approach to generate new store excitement.
The Camper store on New York’s Fifth Avenue is an example of a retailer who believes that a work-in-progress is worth talking about. The footwear brand, based out of Spain, is known for their unique store designs and this location is no different – albeit for a different reason as I soon found out.
From nature-inspired environments like the Regent Street store in London and their bold, contemporary store in Via Montenapoleone, Milan, to a graphic illustration style in Lyon, France, each store has an individual style, and often a different designer.
Their Fifth Avenue store was simple, almost minimal, in its design and I soon discovered why. On the wall behind the cashwrap there was a message that read:
“The Architects and the contractors are currently working on a unique project to refurbish this space. We want to do the best job possible, therefore it will take a minimum of six months to complete. Being a small company, we cannot afford to be closed for such a long period of time. We also feel that a closed store in such an interesting environment is not fair to our colleagues. So in the meantime, we are opening this Walk In Progress Store. We hope that you will understand that although shoeboxes are not lavish, the concept is simple, useful and recyclable. The shoes are 100% CAMPER.”
Wanting to know more, I asked the Camper associate about the story behind the store and if she had any insights into the store’s finished design. Sadly, she said no, the new design is kept top secret until opening; associates see the store for the first time just as customers do. She described the anticipation as exciting; I’ll admit I was slightly disappointed, but only because I was hoping for some top secret information to take home with me.
After further investigation, I discovered the “Walk In Progress” store is a concept the brand has embraced since 2000, but not something everyone is probably lucky enough to get to experience. According to Camper, “The idea is to make a temporary, provisional interactive design with furniture made from recycled materials, allowing the store to open and trade before the definitive design and decoration are complete. The walls are painted white with an ‘imagine a better world’ title to invite the customers to write and draw their messages, ideas and dreams.” While these walls were freshly painted white, I’d be interested to see what messages and artwork adorn them today.
I look forward to my next trip back to NYC to see the store vision come to life and applaud Camper for building buzz and continuing to serve customers as the design process unfolds.