If you look inside the cluttered confines of a Gen Y's closet — well, you're going to find a lot of things. Instantly you'll find that members of this generation are full-fledged trend-trackers. With this in mind, if you look down you'll undoubtedly find a gazillion pairs of shoes, mostly tennis shoes and sandals. And if you were to look even closer, you would see the Skechers label stitched inside almost every shoe. Why? Because for today's youth, this brand is synonymous with hip, trendy and cool.
When ME Productions Inc. began designing Skechers USA in Universal City, Calif., the goal was “to create a store reflecting the footwear retailer's evolution from an industrial street look to a high-tech look with street credibility,” says Michael Eschger, president. “We wanted to integrate cool, new features capturing the attention of the targeted teens.”
“We wanted to create a store reflecting the footwear retailer's evolution from an industrial street look to a high-tech look with street credibility,” says Eschger.
Deciding on the elements befitting the “cool, new features” bill allowed ME to embark on the implementation of new, funky ideas. For example, below large, lifestyle graphics, the kid's department is host to a nontraditional shoe store guest — a gumball machine. Not your average sugar shooter, this accessory is integrated into a seating element. When Skechers tokens are inserted, the contents — logo-imprinted candy — come racing out.
Another cool contraption is the “DisPlaystation,” a Sony Playstation integrated into a display. It entertains young customers as dual controls lead to intense competitions. Nearby, social spots with flexible, individual seating elements give customers a reason to lounge. A web station is also accessible as a way to promote the Skechers website. To reinforce the dynamic, club appeal, monitors featuring Skechers music videos are integrated into numerous displays. The fast-paced images can be seen and the music heard anywhere in the store.
“Skechers by nature is a cutting-edge company that will experiment with new and interesting technology as it becomes available,” says Eschger. “You will never find a store that is a carbon copy of another one.”
The cashwrap lends a spaceship-like, futuristic feel to the store. Within the counter's face are eight internally lit, hollow, glass boxes showcasing a specific shoe style. These floating shoe displays mimic the omnipresent monitors above. Hovering atop this fixture is an oversized sphere dotted with floating monitors, while celestial blue rays glow from behind. “The counters are cantilevered from flanking metal elements that project blue light upward,” says Eschger. The cashwrap seems to mimic a control station, he says. Customers enter the futuristic chamber beneath a stainless steel logo inset into custom, sparkling “Skechers blue” terrazzo, and proceed inside between custom -S- logo door pulls. The addition of an aluminum ceiling also aids in adding depth and space.
“Skechers by nature is a cutting-edge company that will experiment with new and interesting technology as it becomes available,” says Eschger. “You will never find a store that is a carbon copy of another one.” Though ME had the luxury of design freedom with this new site, enabling it to be individualistic was not without its share of obstacles.
With a sales floor of 2,341 sq. ft., one of the biggest challenges for ME was competing with an environment packed with visual stimuli. But these visuals proved beneficial as the store is “always visible from afar,” says Eschger. ME incorporates Skechers' brand color throughout the store — a striking blue that hits customers like a tidal wave as they enter the store. While reflective metals and backlit, multi-membrane plastics help to accomplish the highly visible tech look of the store. In addition, “concrete clad bases offer ‘sidewalk’ space for additional color ways and P.O.M. signage,” explains Eschger.
Another spatial challenge was working with the low, deep space of the site. This was quickly turned into an advantage, as the fusion of color, depth and size gives the space a club atmosphere.
The materials used by ME are as much an ethereal, yet edgy, mix as Skecher's identity. The multi-membrane plastic panels, mentioned previously, reveal a vibrating 3-D effect when backlit. It is actually the same material used for insulating greenhouses. Also used throughout the store is Alumasteel metal laminate (by Wilsonart), and a concrete-like fiberglass mold used for the fixture bases, explains Eschger. To contrast with these materials, wood laminates were utilized.
So, where are the shoes? Everywhere. Curving pools of blue are backlit and serve as a backdrop on which shoes are displayed. Shoes are propped on evenly spaced peg-fitted panels. A single shoe is displayed in profile, making styles easy to find, and compare to others.
ME Production has stepped beyond the traditional footwear design boundaries with Skechers USA. “It's very exciting to keep evolving with the Skechers brand,” says Eschger.
ME has successfully leaped into the future, turning this store into a total entertainment venue, meshing well with Universal City Walk's attractions right outside its door.
Contact: Michael Eschger, ME Productions Inc., president, 310. 827.8525 ext. 12.
- Project design and project management: Michael Eschger, Marlene Lento, Emilio Verdugo.
- Lighting design: Lighting Design Alliance, Long Beach, Calif.
- Construction: Innerspace, Culver City, Calif.
- Fixtures: Premier Designs, Cypress, Calif.
- Video: IMPART, Seattle, Wash.
- Audio: DMX Music, Lake Forest, Calif.
- Flooring: Floor Covering Consultants Group, Culver City, Calif.
- Graphics: Pratt, Indianapolis.
- Ceiling: USG Interiors Inc., Chicago.
- Lighting: Premium Quality Lighting, Simi Valley, Calif.
- Signage: Promotional Signs, Lake Forest, Calif.