Hudson Yards opens in NYC – Could this be the new face of retail?

You’ve seen it grow if you live in New York City. You can’t escape the media blitz if you work in retail anywhere around the globe. It finally came: Hudson Yards opened in Manhattan’s West Side on Friday. Our Medallion Retail team was sent to see it in person. We place emphasis on “experience it”, as this is one of the key points that distinguishes this mega-mixed-use area.

This brings us to the first question: What should Hudson Yards be called? It covers 28 acres. Is it a city within a city? It is a playground for the ultra-wealthy. Vertical palace? Vertical retail? Vertical hospitality? Hudson Yards includes residential high-rises and office buildings. It’s the retail aspect that attracts us.

Although we look like a 10, have we actually met?

The Shops & Restaurants in 20 Hudson Yards is made of glass and polished chrome, and has elevators that can go up and down seven floors. It reminds us of the Shops at Columbus Circle at the Time Warner Center. It’s beautiful from the outside, but we were a bit confused by its similarities to its sister in Uptown.

The selection is vast, but so too is the median price point

Tod’s, Fendi and Chanel are just a few of the many brands that Cartier, Tod’s, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Fendi have. The shopping center must also have something for everyone, as it has more than 100 stores. There are retailers that you might find in an upscale mall, such as H&M and Banana Republic.

Neiman Marcus is the linchpin of the HY retail complex. The store is stunning, the mannequins and the luxury product selection are outstanding. Visual merchandising showcases the latest fashion trends in both texture and relevance. Displays that encourage customers to purchase their products straight from the windows and off the backs of mannequins are the net result.

This is NM’s first Manhattan store. True to their Texas roots they have done everything grand, impressive and spectacular, starting with the outdoor (and larger) logos. The logo can be seen from nearly every angle in the complex, and dominates the glass-wall entrance.

Every floor features original, museum-quality artwork. The store also features a signed lithograph by Robert Indiana of his famous work LOVE, which adds an extra dimension to the space and displays museum-quality attribution signage. This is just one example of the many pieces we saw in the store. Neiman’s isn’t the only place where original artwork can be found. There are twelve public art installations throughout the “mall”. The Yards’ largest installation is located in the middle of the Yards. We will talk more about it later.

It is possible to experience it, interact with and even purchase it.

We have written extensively about the necessity to create Instore Shopper Moments(r), to enhance online shopping with “real-world” brick-and mortar retail experiences. This siren call was heard loud and clear by Hudson Yards’ retailers and developers.

Neiman’s has a lot of interactive and social-media-friendly displays throughout the center. (Out of respect for Hudson Yards’ developers we’ll refrain from using “mall”). The yellow taxi, jutting out of a wall with the New York City skyline lit up, caught our attention and captured our iPhones. Inside shopper magnets were attracted to its neon presence and open trunk brimming with spring flowers. International shoppers tourists flocked to the spot to snap and take selfies, and then post them immediately. Neiman’s could not have purchased this much media reach around the world if they tried.

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The Hudson Yards’ “Floor of Discovery”, is certainly a novel and innovative concept. The developer’s press release states that the second floor will feature immersive experiences from digital native and established global brands as well as new eateries, marketplaces, and snarkitecture’s SnarkPark. Next, you can climb up to the next level and explore the first brick-and-mortar forays for brands such Mack Weldon (“smart pants for smart men”), Rhone (men’s premium activewear) and Lovepop (3D-pop-up cards). These names will soon be familiar to you, as they all began online. Uniqlo and Muji are more well-known names that have established permanent stores. They promise immersive experiences unlike any other. These will be covered in detail on our next trip.

Visitors receive more than just shops

We like to see restaurants mixed in with retail shops. We have never liked the concept of “food court Siberia”. Walking through the retail center felt like walking down a street in one of NYC’s most upscale shopping areas. We’re thinking of the Meatpacking District which is just a few blocks away from HY’s doors. The Highline ends at Hudson Yards, its northern terminus. You can meet up at Patek Philippe and buy a beautiful watch, then enjoy a delicious meal at Thomas Keller’s TAK Room. This almost sounds like an evening spent in Paris. But Thomas Keller is not available in Paris.

Hudson Yards is not for everyone. There are also other types of experiences. The Vessel is the name of one. It’s a 150-foot tall immersive ziggurat staircase that dominates the landscape. We returned the next evening to climb it after the Vessel was sold out when we arrived.

It wasn’t only New Yorkers who clamored to climb. It’s a tourist hot spot that allows you to eat and shop in all the languages we could hear.

HY plans to be a new destination for performing arts. The Shed promises to be a welcome addition in New York’s cultural landscape. It will be a great way to attract shoppers at night, as we can see. You can also visit Dior to get a brand new dress or a blazer by Cremieux, a French luxury brand.

Is the future in high-low design that is anti-mall?

Hudson Yards is trying to bring new life to a decades-old idea. We believe that people wrongly believed that movie theaters would disappear. However, urban vertical retail is a way to serve new customer needs and thrive. It brings people together from all over the city and around the globe, encouraging shoppers to explore, and retailers to try new concepts and immersive retail elements. It does have its flaws. It will. It is worth returning to time and again. We believe so. We’ll let you all know when we visit this shopping paradise on the West Side.

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