Brands born on the internet will have a home at Manhattan's new mega mall.
At Hudson Yards, an 18-million-square-foot real estate development on the New York's West Side, 1 million square feet will be devoted to retailers like Lululemon, Sephora, Louis Vuitton and Fendi. It will also include a space dedicated to brands that started online and are now starting to open storefronts, like shoemaker M.Gemi and sock retailer Stance.
In many ways, this will be the first time a shopping center has been built from ground up with online brands top of mind, giving them permanent and not just pop-up space. It will be a test to see if these brands have enough clout to generate buzz outside of their websites, lure shoppers and keep their landlords happy. On what Hudson Yard is calling the "Floor of Discovery" on the second level of the building, visitors will find all of these digitally savvy brands in one place, neighboring one another.
"The opportunity to construct a new retail development today does allow for the developer to logically lay out spaces for present times," which includes these online brands, said Mark Kaplan, principal and chief operating officer at Ripco Real Estate, a New York-area brokerage firm. He views Hudson Yards as a "new-age mall," where shoppers who have been seeing some of these up-and-coming retailers on their Instagram feeds can test products before buying them. "The internet can be a cheaper way to grow a business from 0 to 15 miles per hour, but you need a bricks-and-mortar strategy to supercharge it," he said.
The born-on-the-internet brands — including men's athletic apparel company Rhone and a concept called "The Drug Store" with drinks by trendy beverage brand Dirty Lemon — opening up shop this week at Hudson Yards look at it as an opportunity to test the waters before they decide if they want to grow further. Men's underwear brand Mack Weldon, for example, will be opening its first bricks-and-mortar store ever.
"We think about this as a long-term deal," said Mack Weldon founder and CEO Brian Berger. In opening this first store, Mack Weldon "wants to build a sound case to do a handful more" locations, he said.
A bonus: "The statistic is in the markets where you have physical retail, the [e-commerce] business in that market increases by about 30 percent," Berger said.