Aeropostale, which has been selling its mid-price merchandise to mall-haunting teens for years, has ventured into the biggest of big cities with a new store in New York’s Times Square.
But in trying to capture the essence of a Manhattan store, Tim Anderson, Aeropostale’s vp of construction, made a challenging decision. “We shied away from the obvious images, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building,” Anderson says, “and selected more esoteric imagery that can only be found in the Big Apple.” And one of the elements Anderson decided to focus on: the subway.
So at the Broadway and 45th Street entrance to the store, after such typical Aeropostale imagery as its proprietary wave graphic running along perimeter soffits, is a backlit sign announcing “Times Square NYC.” The sign is mounted on clean white subway tiles. It’s the starting point of a journey through the streets of New York.
A mosaic subway directory guides customers to the escalator and the SoHo T-Shirt Shop, Jeans Library and Dorm Room on the second floor. Along the way, designers made use of the colorful circles used on New York subway maps and signage to identify the various lines. In one spot, four red circles are grouped together, each with a letter to spell out the word AERO. A distressed version of the company logo also appears on a white brick wall, enhancing the urban feel. The sign is actually made with vinyl letters that were applied to the brick using heat shrinking to appear as if it’s been painted.
But it’s not just the subway. Anderson and his partners at GHA Design Studios (Montreal) were inspired by the big Pepsi-Cola sign that guards the banks of the East River, including its steel superstructure, to spell out the word Aeropostale on the sidewall of the escalator.
The mellifluous curve of the sign entices customers to the top of the escalator on the second floor where The SoHo room is strategically positioned. The room’s façade is reminiscent of SoHo’s landmark cast-iron architecture.
“The room is a nod to the heritage not only of the city but also of Aeropostale, as props from the company archives are used throughout,” says Jeff Lee, vp of visual merchandising, including photos, certificates and even the chairman’s own bomber jacket. An image of the Brooklyn Bridge is etched onto the surface of an antique mirror hung as a focal point on the back wall. There’s also a good deal of appropriate repurposing in the room: industrial work tables from Get Back Inc., vintage props from Olde Good Things, price point signs scribbled on old chalk boards and exposed brick walls with repurposed floorboards.
The Jeans Library is evocative of the city’s iconic 42nd Street Public Library, including a replica of the famous lions regally positioned in the front of the space. Bronze chandeliers and creaky wooden library tables complete the reading room reference.
The Dorm Room – which features sleepwear, loungewear, intimate apparel and accessories – is modeled after a Greenwich Village loft. Merchandise is stacked and folded on nested tables with blue wood-turned legs and upholstered linen-covered benches. An eclectic grouping of chandeliers lights a signature round settee.
There’s a balcony outside the second floor of the 19,000-square-foot store looking out at the uniquely New York bustle of Times Square. But with clever use of materials and familiar references, the designers did a good job of replicating the city’s glitter, texture, lights and pulsating beat inside the store.
Retailer: Aeropostale, New York
Design: GHA Design Group, Montreal
Audio/Visual: ECI Communications, South Plainfield, N.J.
Fixtures, furniture: KRG Enterprises Inc., Philadelphia
Flooring: Architectural Systems Inc., New York
Lighting: Lido Lighting, Deer Park, N.Y.
Mannequins/Forms: Lifestyle/Trimco, New York
Props and decorative: Lifestyle/Trimco, New York; Suzi West, Columbus, Ohio
Outside LED Signage: D3 LED LLC – Rancho Cordova, Calif.
Interior sign: Bergen Sign Co., Paterson, N.J.
Wallcoverings and Materials: PCL Graphics, Toronto
Architect: Sargenti Architects, Paramus, N.J.
General Contractor: StructureTone Inc., New York
Photography: Adam Friedberg, New York