Next week, fashion retailer All Saints opens its first store in New York. K.I.S.S or ‘keep it simple stupid’ might be the executive summary.
Manhattan is a long way from the UK, physically and spiritually, but this rarely prevents Brit retailers from viewing it almost as an extension of this small island. And next week, fashion retailer All Saints opens its first store in the city; it already has a handful in other US locations, as it seeks a little piece of Big Apple glamour and turnover.
The point about this one however is not the store that is going to open, although it will certainly be an impressive instance of the stripped back interior that is the retailer’s hallmark, but rather, the tenant that was in the space before it.
A few years ago, Michael K, for that was the name of the previous store, opened in the same unit with a store that had every conceivable bell and whistle and sang and danced into the bargain. There were banks of lighting panels that changed colour and which could be made to pulse in time to the loud music and overhead there was a model train that ran on flimsy-looking rails, transporting sports shoes endlessly around the space.
And that was the point of this store. It was about selling sports shoes and a modicum of associated branded sportswear in an environment that it would be polite to call bling.
Now it’s gone and in its place will be All Saints. The British retailer took possession of the site in February and the first thing that was done to this prime piece of lower Manhattan real estate was to take out every piece of evidence that Michael K had every been there.
This done, the next stage was to take the building back to its bare bones and then to set about distressing the structure, in a tasteful manner. The outcome is the familiar apocalyptic interior that feels like the set designers from Bladerunner might have met the gentle folks from Robocop and decided it was time to sell clothing.
But it does allow the building to speak for itself - emphasising the cast iron pillars and high ceilings that characterise this part of the city.
In short, it’s back to basics with a store that does not seek to over elaborate in the way that marked out Michael K.
K.I.S.S or ‘keep it simple stupid’ might be the executive summary (although the All Saints interior is as much a construct as its predecessor) for what has been done and it does look very much more in tune with the times than a homeboy’s dream of retail excellence.
Odd how All Saints looks, in many ways, more at home here than it does in some of its UK locations.