WWD has the first glimpse inside the new "Epic" Hollister flagship set to open Thursday in SoHo (It's the big event of the week, so expect to hear a lot about it between now and then). Included in an interview with A&F CEO Michael Jeffries, we can see the dramatic cast iron staircase that will presumably be a centerpiece of the four-level, 40,000 square foot store. Jeffries promises a lavish interior composed of surf shacks with video screens throughout the store bringing beach footage to SoHo. Think of it as California by way of Columbus, Ohio. As usual, there will be no less than two shirtless models in board shorts to greet customers at the front door, and plenty of nubile "salesmodels" inside (fair hiring practices be damned).
Like any CEO, Jeffries is all smiles and good news, though Abercrombie & Fitch's same store sales numbers continue slump in the double digits across the board, including those at the Fifth Avenue flagship, and a variety of analysts chime in with their (mostly predictable) observations that while the company is finally starting to respond to its slowing business, it may not be doing enough to offer newness and otherwise adapt to customers' changing tastes and demands.
Jeffries confirms that the Hollister brand's international expansion hinges on the success of this new flagship, but don't expect any opening day promotions. It'll be full-price all the time at the flagship stores, because, really, who's looking for a sale these days anyway... right?
A&F Stays on Message With Global Strategy (WWD)
Hollister (Official Site) & Ride The Wave (SoHo Epic Store Site)