Malls: The Next Frontier

BrandBox is at the cross-section of modern retail, bringing together digital native brands and the revitalization of the American mall
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Posted September 16, 2019

Owned and operated by real estate investor Macerich (Santa Monica, Calif.), and developed by Fitch (Columbus, Ohio), BrandBox is a new concept that assists digitally native brands looking to establish their first physical presence in planning, designing and installing stores in vacant mall spaces, allowing retailers once confined to the Internet an opportunity to physically connect with customers. Companies can lease these spaces for weeks to months at a time.

Somewhere between a pop-up and a permanent installation, BrandBox deals with the messy aspects of permits and construction. “For native brands, 18 months is like 18 years. They are horrified by the complexity and slowness compared to the world of e-commerce,” says Alasdair Lennox, Executive Creative Director at Fitch. “[BrandBox] takes all the pain away.”

Tysons Corner Center in Washington, D.C., was the launching point for the concept. Originally debuting in 2018, brands are housed in spaces ranging from 1200 to 2400 square feet and can choose the layout that works best for their needs from three available design options.

Adorned with minimal fixtures and brightly colored or patterned walls, BrandBox stores evoke modernity and sleek style.

Some of the standouts featured at Tysons Corner include cosmetics company, Winky Lux (New York) and cashmere clothing retailer, Naadam (New York). The Winky Lux store features a textured wall of pink faux flowers, which contrasts against the intricately patterned walls covered in purple and orange flowers and green leaves.

Lined with stark white walls, the Naadam store utilizes warm wood features, black shelving and lush plant boxes. Clean space and sharp lines draw customers to the merchandise. Framed above the clothing is the brand’s slogan in embossed lettering, “Save the planet, wear cashmere.”

The spaces are designed to promote traffic flow with simple columns, shelving and displays, allowing merchandise to be the focus.

“As humans, we like to go shopping with other people,” Lennox says. “We all love experiences where we can taste a sample, touch the fabric, sit in a chair, try on a jacket. There is absolutely a need for physical experiences.”


Be sure to check out the in-depth story behind BrandBox during VMSD's International Retail Design Conference, taking place Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Boston. The breakout session, "Bringing Digital Brands into Physical Spaces in a Fresh, New Way," will feature speakers Kevin McKenzie, Former EVP & Chief Digital Officer for Macerich and Alasdair Lennox, Executive Creative Director at Fitch. Attend this session to discover how semi-permanent storefronts enable digital native brands to reach new customers; see how brand personalization through design is paramount for semi-permanent projects and uncover new ideas for saving underperforming malls and shopping centers. For more information about their session and others, please visit irdconline.com