Tom Horne, co-founder of L’Estrange London and consultant to Cushman & Wakefield, has been preparing for the first store opening of L’Estrange (the fashion label that has redesigned the hoodie, and also featured in Vogue). He headed to New York in search of the latest retail trends. Here he shares with us his top finds:
1. Pop Ups still going strong
People still love to look and feel products before they buy, particularly in the clothing space. Many of the innovative new retail brands who started their journey online, including Outdoor Voices, Away and Raden, are opening stores to test bricks-and-mortar and advertise their products to new customers. Not just that, they all have other activities happening in store to encourage people to visit. Outdoor Voices (having just raised $13m in funding) have introduced evening yoga sessions and Away (having raised of $2.5m in funding) have a weekly programme that range from dim sum lessons to trunk shows.
It’s not just the young ones though, you’ll find half of the city’s more established retail brands are embracing the pop-up revolution in full force from Saks to Warby Parker.
2. Tech for breakfast, lunch and dinner
For on-the-move New Yorkers, meal delivery services have never been so popular. This isn’t just for an evening treat though. Deliveroo’s minimum delivery charges, restricted restaurant list, all-in meal costs at $8 and average delivery time of around 20 mins is being challenged. David Chang’s Maple is turning over 300 meals per hour, all produced in house. The result is that meals are being delivered to offices and apartments for breakfast through to dinner. Special mention to Sprig and Munchery who are doing an incredible job in a crowded market.
3. But it’s not replacing eating out
The restaurant scene is still buzzing. The day-time is where we saw the most innovative concepts that are gaining traction. Long queues at Chobani were replaced by staff with iPads, allowing you to watch your food being prepared behind glass screens while you sit and wait.
By Chloe takes vegan fast food to the masses – as a passionate meat-eater, I tried the veggie burgers with beetroot ketchup with scepticism but it was actually pretty great.
The Apartment (by the Line) is, as its name would suggest, an apartment. Located on the first floor of Lafayette, you can buy everything in it from the kitchen utensils to the wardrobe and its contents. In a world where the easiest transactions are online, providing something unique in-store is essential.
5. Department stores are struggling
After 20 years and with over 15 stores, New York boutique store Scoop has gone into liquidation. It’s not just Scoop though, many of the major department stores are having a tough time. As Macy’s looks to close 100 stores, now is the time to update and evolve their concepts so they can survive. Likewise in the UK everyone from Debenhams to Harvey Nichols are having to evolve.
6. Delivery is expected
Trying out a product is key, particularly when sampling new brands, but we don’t always need to take items with us when we leave. Bonobos has been selling its chinos through the Guideshop concept without any stock in-house. This has meant smaller floor plates, a greater focus on customer service and a larger selection of stock.
The suitcase we bought from Away was delivered next day to our hotel. The jury is still out as to whether customers prefer to take clothes directly from a store but no-one wants to lug a suitcase around New York City in 34 degrees. As Stuart, Shutl and soon Uber compete in London, same-day delivery isn’t going anywhere.
7. After hours
Opening hours across the board were later than in London (except maybe Oxford Street). Most were open until 8pm with in-store events running throughout the evening to give an immersive lifestyle experience to their customers. We stuck around in the downstairs bar of James Perse’s East Village store well after the store had ‘closed’.
Tom Horne is a consultant to Cushman & Wakefield