Since it was a Tuesday, the store was not open for business as usual, but that didn’t stop a few wanderers off the street from coming in to browse the wares. Since its opening earlier this month the shop has attracted a lot of foot traffic. The store is marked with a small Academy of Art University logo on the front door, but apart from that logo the store looks just like any other retail store in Union Square.”We really wanted, first and foremost, to make it a real retail experience,” explained Senior Director of Merchandising Keanan Duffty.
Before the presentation began, Mona Li, a partner of Mute Studios, was on hand to answer a few questions about the brand. She spoke with Nike and the film crew from the Academy’s cyber campus, showing off her partner Joanne Lu’s designs and spoke about their next venture, DeMute, which will merge fashion with technology and give a platform to emerging talent.
The team from Nike, which consisted of about 15 team members from a variety of different departments, came to the store ready to be wowed. Students from Academy of Art University that staff the store were there to greet the Nike team. Once everyone was gathered the presentation of the store began.
The shop emerged from the Spring pop up shop earlier this year; the pop up shop enjoyed such success that the Merchandising department decided to take the idea further and expand into a permanent retail space. “With great gusto, we lept in and got the space ready,” Keanan Duffty described of the process to get the shop off of the ground. The store is a way for students to get real life experience in product development, merchandising and retail while providing a space for alumni to sell their merchandise and gain a following.
The store, which is in the space formerly occupied by Marty’s Liquors & Gourmet, still has the logo of the spirit’s store hanging above the entrance. “I like the underground nature of this place,” Duffty said as he talked about the intention behind leaving the old signage there. The shop certainly has an underground feel, with the wood-like and camouflage installations created by the visual merchandising team. Adding dimension and a little bit of a club vibe to the store is a wall projection of the Academy of Art New York Fashion Week Show and stills from 180 Magazine. This space and work that went into getting the store going is impressive and the Nike team took notice.
The students have a real hands on experience as the running and operating of the shop is integrated into their curriculum. From creating a marketing plan to packaging, the students are really given the opportunity to be in charge of the store. The students who presented were ready for every question that Nike asked, and were poised and extremely knowledgeable on all of the products. The Nike team asked them questions about their futures, what their favorite items in the store are, and what kind of customers they got in the store.
Why a retail store? Duffty feels like “it was the piece of the pie that was missing” for the School of Fashion. The shop combines so many different departments and is a great opportunity for many students to get experience and gain recognition. It’s the perfect platform to help launch the careers of the talented students at the Academy. Looking to the future, when students come back from the holiday break they will take all of the momentum that they have gained and continue to grow and re-create themselves with new designers and new visuals. The goal of the store is to create a memorable retail experience for the consumer and create first hand knowledge for students.
With the impressed response from Nike and the buzz that SHOP657 is gaining, there are most definitely good things in store for SHOP657. If you haven’t been to the shop yet, go check it out!
By Tess Collins