With its new “Grand Stage” concept, ABC-Mart Inc. (Tokyo) aims to capitalize on the always-changing trends in sneakers and sports-style wear among urban Asia’s large youth market – a demographic that lives for the latest styles and then preens about it on social media. The lead store designer, Kate Kyung-ha Lee, Senior Associate VP in the Seattle office of CallisonRTKL Inc. (Baltimore), calls this target market the project’s design “muse, style-connected consumers, crafted through their relentless pursuit of culture – be it in fashion, travel, music or art.”
ABC-Mart is one of the Pacific Rim’s leading athletic shoe retailers, with more than 1300 stores throughout Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Previously, the stores’ culture had always been a densely inventoried, you-can-find-anything-you-want approach.
Grand Stage’s targeted consumer, though, “pursues culture and fashion in the same way athletes pursue sports – style in addition to performance and functionality,” says Lee. “These are the style-connected influencers who always like to have the latest styles and to share, even brag about, their purchases.
“The experience must provide innovation and style and ever-evolving inspiration.”
Beginning in August 2018, ABC-Mart Grand Stage opened three flagship store renovations, in the gleaming upscale Gangnam shopping district of Seoul, South Korea, in Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district as well as in the city’s colorful, youthful and quirky Harajuku area. That’s where the muse goes.
The concept is designed around two specific “stages.” Center Stage, in the front of the store, is a platform for the newest and most innovative. It’s available to brands as pop-in stores for new product launches, campaigns and small events.
Back Stage, on the top floor or rear of the store, has the digital excitement this generation responds to. At a Kick Pics Booth, customers can try on shoes, and snap and share photos of the shoes on social media. Infinity-mirrored fitting rooms allow customers to “try-it-on and show-it-off” on social media.
Throughout the store are colorful and edgy murals created by artists local to the city or neighborhood.
“Fixtures are all kit-of-part, so they’re easily movable and changeable,” says Lee. “One thing about this generation is that the fads come and go quickly and we have to accommodate changing retail trends, creating a flexible, scalable and dynamic retail experience that changes and evolves as fast as the consumer.
“They’re always looking for ‘new,’ and we want them to associate these stores with newness.”