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Naked Retail Group Redesigns Nolita Store for Covid Commerce

Naked Retail Group reopened its Nolita store in Manhattan on Monday, but it looks a little different than it did in March.

Naked, which aims to bring digital natives into physical spaces and deliver engaging retail, popup and brand activation experiences, branded the retail restart “not your average reopening saga.” The company redesigned the Nolita outpost, which typically hosts a rotating cast of brands, to create a Covid-safe shopping environment consciously focused on social distancing. The latest iteration will include 30 direct-to-consumer brands such as Naked Cashmere, which upcycles post-consumer cashmere clothing to create new garments, cookware company Caraway and intelligent home gym company Tonal.

The refreshed space features blue floor squares spaced six feet apart, in accordance with social distancing guidelines. The entryway incorporates both a modernized sanitizing station, featuring Touchland hand sanitizer, as well as a mask station.

DTC-focused Naked Retail Group reopened its Nolita store with a new look and new technology catering to today's coronavirus-wary consumers.
The Naked Nolita store carries a curated selection of direct-to-consumer products across the apparel, beauty and lifestyle categories. Courtesy

While these changes may seem elementary, Naked has made some important tweaks to drive mobile commerce, a nod to consumers who still prefer not to patronize brick and mortar. The Naked team developed a “shoppable storefront” giving shoppers a way purchase items straight from their smartphones from windows where products will be placed on display.

Naked also created both a mobile pick-up section of the store with shelves for customers to retrieve their goods if they purchased beforehand, as well as contactless checkout area within the store.

The store also extends the group’s sustainability initiatives, which started to take shape during the pandemic when the company co-hosted an e-commerce popup called Sum of Small Parts with circular sneaker brand Thousand Fell, which included participating brands such as Fair Harbor, which crafts swimwear from recycled ocean plastics, and Van Holzhauzen, a luxury handbag label that uses sustainable, animal-free leather, in addition to Naked Cashmere.

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DTC-focused Naked Retail Group reopened its Nolita store with a new look and new technology catering to today's coronavirus-wary consumers.
Naked’s retail presence typically follows an editorial calendar allowing brands to capitalize on collaboration, seasonality and cultural trends. Courtesy

Within the store, Naked says it designed a custom adaptable retail system to promote longevity and reuse, since the companies that typically occupy the space switch out every 30 to 90 days and new designs are constantly reintroduced. By using non-fixed structures and fixtures, Naked says it’s able to create elements that can be adaptable for different brands or activations upon deconstruction or reconstruction.

Naked leveraged cost-effective, recycled and reusable locally sourced basic construction materials using materials such as brick, recycled polycarbonate panels and sustainable plywood.

Prior to the pandemic, the Nolita store was designed to eliminate most retail barriers. Naked handled the entire activation process including store design, build, staging and management. The location typically follow an editorial calendar allowing brands to capitalize on collaboration, seasonality and cultural trends.

The return to physical retail will certainly be a boost to Naked, which had to rely on several e-commerce-only strategies such as the popup shop for revenue throughout the pandemic. In late March, Naked launched four care packages—Immunity Check, For Her, For Him and the Ultimate Set—as the Covid-19 pandemic forced non-essential stores to close. The packages were made available for purchase online, each packed with assorted products from different partner brands.

DTC-focused Naked Retail Group reopened its Nolita store with a new look and new technology catering to today's coronavirus-wary consumers.
Blue squares mark six-foot, social-distancing intervals on the floor in Naked’s Nolita store. Courtesy

The reopening comes two months after a similar physical store concept in New York, Showfields, reopened its doors to audiences. The three-level experiential department store in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood calls itself part retail store, part theater and hosts a flurry of digitally native brands. In the heat of the pandemic, Showfields held a series a livestreaming events, virtually bringing remote viewers into the physical store experience.

Like Naked Retail, the company released its own mobile experience called the Magic Wand app, which invites store customers to explore with their device in hand to purchase products and artwork, scan tags to learn from scores of brands and artists and access narrated audio tours.