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Tech-Driven Engagements, Customization Define Puma’s New NYC Flagship

Where else in New York can you race like Lewis Hamilton, play footie while getting coached by a Barcelona forward and learn the secrets of streetwear customization from Chinatown Market—all under the same roof?

As of Thursday, at Puma.

The athletic brand officially opened the doors of its new 18,000 square-foot flagship, which the brand said was designed to offer consumers new ways to interact with products while providing its own kind of cultural value.

To achieve those goals, Puma has packed the floors with a fully-outfitted customization studio, multiple tech-driven engagements and, of course, a state-of-the-art RFID-powered shopping experience.

Puma CEO, Bjoern Gulden, said the purpose of the new store may be more than just capitalizing on the valuable New York audience—it could also be a way for the brand itself to evolve.

“Puma is thrilled to open its first flagship in New York City, in a prime Manhattan location, that will allow us to connect with both our U.S. and international customers,” Gulden said in a statement. “I believe investing in this new store—in one of the fastest-paced cities in the world—will help us in our pursuit to be the fastest sports brand in the world. We’re committed to pushing the boundaries of sports, fashion and technology, and this store is the latest manifestation of that commitment.”

Consumers who visit the store will find a futuristic double-height storefront on the outside—while, inside, a bevy of interactive exhibits and shopping opportunities await. Notably, The “Puma x You” customization studio will offer personalization services for its footwear, apparel and accessories including supplies for painting, dipping, dyeing and even laser-printing Puma products.

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However, the brand decided to kick this experience up a notch by inviting a rotating cast of local artists to reside in the studio for two-week terms, assisting and collaborating with visitors.

On its opening Labor Day weekend, Puma x You will also be the opening location of a new project the brand is calling “Chinatown University,” in partnership with streetwear brand, Chinatown Market. Its design team will teach courses associated with apparel customization during opening weekend and Puma said the partnership will extend into 2020 in “various forms.”

A long-term supporter of racing and motorsports, Puma has also installed professional-quality racing simulators to give customers a taste of speed in-between shopping. For visitors that prefer to move a little slower, the sports brand’s new flagship will include a simulation of a professional soccer field and a big-screen NBA2K gaming room.

Once the flagship’s visitors get back to shopping, they can also view alternate colors and styles for their products by utilizing the various iMirror by NOBAL installations placed throughout the store. The mirror picks up RFID sensors in each product and can then offer new options to look for, in some ways mimicking the online shopping experience.

All of these features, along with the hot new facade, should help Puma compete against the myriad shopping experiences available in the area. Less than a year ago, Nike opened its own flagship just down the street and Fifth Avenue has increasingly become a hot spot for brand-defining retail experiences.

For Bob Philion, president of Puma North America, the brand’s investment in the flagship means it’s committed to growing and improving its North American business.

“Puma continues to see solid growth within North America and this new store reaffirms our commitment to this important market,” Philion explained. “From visitors that come to experience this iconic city, to lifelong New Yorkers, we’re excited to open our doors in a vibrant and diverse community that aligns with our ‘Forever Faster’ mentality.”