The massive construction facade that loomed over Broadway between Spring and Broome streets for the better part of 2015 is no more. Instead, it's been replaced by an explosion of flowers and greenery, making for a stop-and-stare moment (and one hell of an Instagram pic) on one of Manhattan's busiest shopping streets. The installation not only signals that Zara's new Soho store is open for business, but also gives potential shoppers a hint about what they'll find inside.
The former home of Old Navy has been transformed into a sleek 47,000-square foot space for the Spanish fast fashion chain, and it relies on simple whitewashed brick walls and black fixtures to let its colorful new arrivals for spring stand out. However, they're competing with giant digital screens that swallow the back wall, where you'll also find the registers. They're displaying the brand's spring/summer campaign, and some of the images look like what would happen if a Color Run took place on a beach and everyone was wearing prairie dresses.
The main floor consists of the pricier women's merchandise — like Zara Woman and Trafaluc — while women's basics and kid's clothing (including a tiny mannequin that has taken more than a couple of points from Yeezy) are upstairs and menswear, as usual, is in the basement.
This store is Zara's first to feature "smart" dressing rooms. It starts outside the rooms, when a sales associate will select an open room for you on a touch screen, then scan in the items you're bringing in with you (if there are things you're not trying on, they'll hold them for you). Then once you're in your dressing room with its own touch screen, you can see more about each item you brought in, like if it's available in other colors, or call for assistance in finding other sizes — or for help with a zipper.
The new system serves to both the customer, who now doesn't need to risk a staff member flinging open a curtain to see whether a room is occupied, and the store, which can cut down on the risk of dressing room theft by digitally tracking what's going in and out.
The store is officially open to the public, so check it out for yourself next time you're on Broadway. And keep an eye on Zara's former home up the street — the windows at 580 Broadway are now covered up with signs directing shoppers to the new location.