Urban Outfitters: New Retail Design Concept

U.S. youth retailer Urban Outfitters has announced that they are transforming the façade of their new location on the Upper West Side of New York City, due to open this fall, to resemble four distinct mom-and-pop style storefronts – a hat store, a hardware store, a neighborhood bar and a bodega.

Designer Ron Pompei of Pompei A.D. calls the façade “a story of the streets of New York as they once were” – an ironic design given that large retailers like Urban Outfitters have replaced most of the small independent stores that used to line the city. This is not the first time Urban Outfitters has experimented with a new retail concept – in 2002 they converted a Cincinnati Protestant church into a store, keeping the original truss and stained glass windows, and in 2009 they moved into the historic Röda Kvam cinema in Stockholm, beautifully integrating their product and personality into the original features of the structure, including the painted ceiling, the grand steps and the balconies.

Perhaps their most ambitious retail concept to date is Space 15 Twenty in Los Angeles. The 12,690 square foot Urban Outfitters store houses adjoining vendors that complement the brand, installs monthly pop-up shops featuring different designers and hosts artists and musicians in its various courtyards and galleries, creating a comprehensive brand experience.

Pompei asserts that authenticity is at the core of Urban Outfitters’ retail philosophy, and that every store design references this idea. The N.Y. planned storefront winks at that very idea of authenticity – behavior that is typical of the retailer’s tongue-in-cheek approach. Just as they printed shopping bags with “Urban Outfitters” on one side and “Save the Garden Theatre” on the other after moving into Charleston’s historic Garden Theatre in 2005, they will no doubt continue to challenge traditional retail models with this new store design and those to come.

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