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Haggar Irons Out Factory Design

Imaged by FRCH, Haggar Clothing Co.'s new outlet store incorporates elements straight from the sewing room floor. In many circles, older is wiser. For Dallas-based Haggar Clothing Co., seven decades of manufacturing and retailing have not spurred a long-in-the-tooth factory store. In fact, when Haggar embarked upon a new, factory concept for its outlet stores, thecompany's long history was drawn upon to create a contemporary venue for its slightly-less-than-perfect merchandise.

"We're about to begin our 73rd year, so we have 70-plus years of old pictures, artifacts, archives and all kinds of neat stuff," says Ron Batts, Haggar's vice president of retail. "People are looking for authentic concepts and heritage in their retail destinations, and Haggar has a real story to tell."

Telling that story became the task of designers at the Cincinnati office of New York-based FRCH Design Worldwide. The new outlet store concept, called Haggar Clothing Co. Factory Store, is a clear departure from Haggar's first outlet offering, which FRCH also designed. Discussions between Haggar and FRCH produced a clear direction toward an industrial theme that traces the company back to its roots.

"In Haggar's case, it was very easy to present a strong brand message with its heritage," says Chip Williamson, FRCH's vice president of specialty retail and Haggar project architect. "We did not take advantage of that in the first outlet store."

For the factory outlet store, FRCH looked deeper into the company's lineage to forge the new concept. "We were able to create a strong palette of materials and merchandising structure, while still infusing some of the humor and inventiveness that we had with the previous store," Williamson says.

Haggar Clothing Co.'s original outlet store offers first-quality merchandise with the design materials and service to match, says Batts. By contrast -- both in design and product selection -- the factory outlet store intentionally casts a less upscale attitude for shoppers.

For example, store fixtures are designed for hanging rather than folding, as a way to react to unpredictable merchandise arrivals. Further, the flooring is stained concrete and the vaulted ceiling is galvanized metal, to convey a raw, rough design flavor. Industrial sewing machines, garment racks and ironing board tables give the impression that merchandise comes directly from a factory setting to the store environment.

Amy Rink, interior designer for FRCH on the Haggar project, recalls how a visit to Haggar's home base helped drive the design effort. "Chip and I went down to Dallas and were taken to several of Haggar's factory sites to see how the clothes were manufactured," she says. "We got a great picture of the manufacturing process, which we incorporated into some of the store's propping."

Ironing board tables are among the elements they saw on their trip that found a way into the store. "We took some of the quirkiness of ironing boards and incorporated it into a prop," she says. "Also, some of the perimeter merchandising units are actual factory shelves from Haggar. So we reused items as well as invented new fixturing."

As Williamson notes, Haggar's outlet store is more than just a factory-flavored khakis depot. The store aims to cut to the heart of a long history of retailing.

"Authenticity was the key to design," he says, adding that salvaged brick pilasters and metal trusses round out the image. "Our materials selection tended to drift more into the reality of what a factory is, rather than the creation of something new or interpreted."

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