Horse Sense

U.S. Polo Assn.’s classic American fashion is a winning match for India’s lifestyle market
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Posted June 29, 2015

Making its debut last July on 100 Feet Road, the first Indian flagship of U.S. Polo Assn. (New York), or USPA, sits alongside the biggest names in fashion at Indiranagar, a prestigious Bangalore shopping hub. Restore Solutions (Bangalore, India), a retail design and branding consultancy, was approached by Arvind Lifestyle Brands Ltd. (Bangalore, India), licensee of USPA in India, with the task of creating a memorable concept that would differentiate the store in the country’s highly competitive retail market. 

Originally a subsidiary of the United States Polo Association, the sport’s American governing organization (founded in 1890), the USPA fashion label was first launched in the U.S. in 1981. While the apparel brand has gone global, with 650 stores opened in the domestic and international markets over the past three decades, the sport itself is not widely followed or played in India, which posed an initial challenge for the design team.

“Polo is practically non-existent in India, so we didn’t approach this project with an inherent familiarity gained from popular culture,” says Co-Founder and COO of Restore Solutions, Lisa Mukhedkar. “In order to create an authentic reflection of the brand, we immersed ourselves deeply in the sport’s heritage, studying in detail the visual language of the clothing, equipment and tack. This, married with customer insights about which elements would feel aspirational and instill an emotional connection to the preppy lifestyle of polo, helped us shape our concept.”

The legacy of the sport was expressed through a subtle, understated design approach compared to concepts seen in conventional Indian shops. Designed to evoke the tradition of a classic American mansion, the store’s exterior distinguishes it as someplace special. Its clean, white stucco façade with arched window vitrines and entry doors frame a glimpse into the two-story, timber-clad vestibule.

Much larger than India’s nearly 200 other USPA stores, the Bangalore flagship features a variety of finishes and fixtures that help define distinct zones for casual menswear, women’s wear, kids’ apparel, denim and accessories. A large digital screen loops clips of polo matches, while iPads enable shoppers to order denims with their preferred combinations of washes, fits, buttons, rivets and leather patches, after seeing the options in-store.

Inside, the visual motifs strive to translate USPA’s core approachable, classic and athletic values. Vintage-inspired interiors avoid the glossy and modern, in favor of distressed finishes. Timber, in solid and chunky shapes, was stained with rich tones, as seen on table legs and on the entry column carved with “Since 1890,” lending the rugged and masculine feel of a private members’ club.

Restore carefully evaluated craftspeople and vendors, and invested a great deal of time in prototype and finish development. “A deep commitment to quality and precision from the project’s design, fabrication and installation teams has been vital in bringing the USPA brand to life [in India],” Mukhedkar says.

PROJECT SUPPLIERS

Retailer
Arvind Lifestyle Brands Ltd., Bangalore, India

Design Consultant
Restore Solutions, Bangalore, India

General Contractor, Fixtures, Furniture, Ceilings
Krishna Interiors, Bangalore, India