Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Urban Outfitters is going to great lengths to show it's more than just BDG skinny jeans: following a major opening in Williamsburg for its Space Ninety 8 concept shop, the company will debut a gigantic Herald Square lifestyle store—its largest to date—in early June.
So far, we know that it will have a spot for the Los Angeles-based Hairroin Salon, and another West Coast transplant: Amoeba Records. A big women's shoe shop is also in the works, and they've linked up with indie brands (like Rachel Comey) and high-end offshoots (like See by Chloe).
And of course, no lifestyle store would be complete without a coffee bar. Urban will get that from Intelligentsia Coffee, which will have its own entrance, much like Toby's Estate Coffee at the Club Monaco on Fifth Avenue.
In fact, both Urban Outfitters and Club Monaco appear to be following the same exact formula when it comes to new or revamped flagships: both major commercial brands are presenting large outposts (in high foot traffic areas) as being much more niche than they actually are.
For the new Club Monaco, the company partnered with Strand on a small bookshop that's curated with only some of the most well-known titles from dead authors, current best-sellers, and cult favorites. Adjacent to that is a flower shop, where you can pick up some succulents (you can buy sage at Space Ninety 8.)
So here's the question: if New York City is losing its character to chains—otherwise known as the Mallifaction of Manhattan—and that fading character is being bolstered by big corporations, is that a bad thing? Or is it cheapened because it was carefully strategized over boardroom conference calls?
To be fair, the addition of Intelligentsia gives Urban good street cred: it'll be the only other one in New York besides the location in the High Line Hotel (there are three in LA, and six in Chicago. Eater Chicago calls it the original artisanal coffee shop, and Eater LA agrees it's one of the best places to grab a cup.)
The addition of Amoeba also harkens back to the time when you could actually browse records for hours of Midtown. But will New York shoppers spend their time in Herald Square—or is this another one for the tourists?
· Coming in June: Urban Outfitters' Herald Square Lifestyle Store [Racked NY]
· Photos: Tour the Urban Outfitters Concept Store, Space Ninety 8 [Racked NY]