New York’s subway system is the latest retail destination
By Sidney Morgan-Petro

As New York’s vertical skyline reaches new heights, something unexpected is bubbling below. WGSN Retail Editor, Sidney Morgan-Petro reports.

May 25, 2016
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Meaning underground in the most literal sense, New York City’s subterranean shopping experience is getting better by the minute. Two major underground retail concepts are opening within the next few months, joining other underfoot hotspots like The Lowline.

While the windy corridors of the city’s underbelly are most often associated with chintzy tourist traps like these: 

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Or grab-and-go kiosks bred out of sheer necessity like these:

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We see a new emphasis placed on quality retail below the concrete jungle, meaning big brand names, cute independent boutiques and unique concept spaces that feel both airy and alive – a concept that is quite established in other major cities – Montreal, Seoul and Hong Kong  to name a few – but has mysteriously eluded one of the world’s most famous underground systems. 

First let’s take a look at The New Stand – the new kids on the block that are revolutionising the way we think of – well, you guessed it – newsstands. 

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This award-winning concept (they won first place at the Fashion Technology Forum’s 2015 Founders of the Future Challenge) asks commuters to see the beauty and whimsy in functional, everyday items – elevating the commuting experience from mundane to engaging. Brand collaborations allow for revolving partnerships and promotions in addition to their kitschy and cute wares – coinciding with their free app that delivers curated news content and promotional deals to members. 

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Look for them beneath the Union Square subway station, at Brookfield place downtown and below the Columbus Circle station as a part of the newly-opened Turnstyle retail space. Which brings me to……

The Turnstyle Underground Shopping Complex!

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What is this you ask? It’s the latest in NYC’s underground store openings, a group of over 30 retailers and fast-casual restaurants that offer a curated shopping experience from tacos and pressed juices to fresh flowers and locally-sourced jewellery design.

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Not your average subway store, menswear boutique Spectre and Co. offers an elevated shopping experience for the fellas at Turnstyle-

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And basically everything at online retailer Fab’s new physical space is completely covetable (and gift-able!)

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Subway shopping: The new FAB underground retail space

Turnstyle proves that underground shopping in NYC can feel cool and on-trend, which provides a perfect segue to……

The most massive underground mall New York has ever seen!

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While technically dubbed the Westfield World Trade Center, the skeletal structure that sprawls out above the space is named THE OCULUS.

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About 125 stores will call The Westfield World Trade Center/Oculus home. Among them – John Varvatos, Kate Spade, Penhaligons, Cole Haan and Reiss – a treasure trove of never-before-found-below-Soho shops. This mall will join Brookfield Place and the newly-revived South Street Seaport as the latest addition to the Financial District’s retail renaissance. Although not opening until August 16th, the mall is already drawing crowds for the architectural wonder that looms above it, with tourists and residents both curious to see the finished product.

So go forth! Down, down into the underbelly of the city that never sleeps and shop to your heart’s content. Pick me up something while you’re down there.

Love travel? Love shopping? Follow Sidney on her retail adventures here.

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