Fun, fabulous and future-proof,” says retail queen Marigay McKee, referring to what others might describe as ‘retail’s last hope’. She was talking about New York’s Hudson Yards, an area of Manhattan overlooking the High Line and which is destined to be ‘a landmark project in experimental retail’ when it opens on 15 March.
The difference between this mighty project and the city’s many department stores, some teetering on the brink of closure or collapse, is that Hudson Yards is supposed to encompass the new retail concept of ‘experience’.
You won’t just amble through rows of restaurants or pick out something to order (cheaper) on line. Instead McKee – whom I knew first as a powerful luxury manager at Harrods in London – has been hired as strategic retail adviser to bring her savvy to the Hudson Yards development.
“It’s about making the magic happen with tech, commerce and aesthetics,” she says. “The new brand concepts are based on experience, environment and emotion – all three aligned to get the real engagement of the consumer and to create an emotional connection to the brand – and the ethos behind it.”
She has made sure that enticements to the zone will include many different categories. In fashion, there will be a focus on tightly edited collections, rather than on the designers, and an embrace of both digital and actual store presence.