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.”