Salvatore Ferragamo has opened a 2600 square foot concept store on Greene Street in the heart of New York’s bustling Soho.
The modular hub taps into the experiential, hyper physical retail championed by Balenciaga, Jacquemus et al with an immersive state-of-the-art shopping experience.
A mirrored installation houses a participatory NFT project. The partnership with digital artist Shxpir is allowing 256 customers to co-create their own user generated NFT content against a selection of Shxpir designed backdrops. The resulting artwork captured on a high-spec black magic camera can be minted free of charge as an NFT.
Staff will be available to guide novices through the process of setting up an Ethereum wallet and downloading their NFT once it has been minted.
Such in-store customer orientation strategy — also adopted by Philipp Plein and Printemps — is a smart move and paves the way for future Web 3.0 and metaverse related projects.
Another Ferragamo Greene Street activation is a new custom sneaker program. Choosing from an array of colors and details, customers can personalize Ferragamo’s latest unisex sneaker silhouette, watching the process unfold on a monitor via 3D hologram technology. Dubbed 6R3ENE — pronounced Greene — the shoe is exclusive to the store.
Store and installations alike have been designed by multidisciplinary studio DE-YAN behind the retail concepts of other brands from Louis Vuitton to Versace.
It might all seem a far cry from Salvatore Ferragamo’s heritage — the 95 year-old luxury brand founded in Florence, Italy, is headquartered at an 11th century palazzo — but, says North America CEO Daniella Vitale who spearheaded the Greene Street concept, “while we are lucky to have it and it can certainly inform us, we cannot allow the heritage piece to define us.”
Vitale, whose pedigree takes in CEO roles at Barney’s and Gucci North America, joined Ferragamo from Tiffany’s in October 2021 and this is one of her first projects.
Her appointment follows that of former Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti in March 2021. The hire of 27 year-old Grace Wales Bonner Alumnus and LVMH Prize finalist Maximilian Davis in March as creative director, being the final piece in the storied brand’s dynamic new line-up.
“We’re in the entertainment business,” says, Vitale, “we’re not just in the retail business. We need to give people a reason to cross that threshold — the confluence of technology and art and commerce and creativity. Anyone can open a store in Soho but this is how we are going to differentiate ourselves.”
In a Zoom interview ahead of the Greene Street launch, the executive expanded on Ferragamo’s U.S. retail strategy and how this will inform the global conversation:
Is the Soho concept store part of a broader retail strategy — in terms of a test and learn?
Daniella Vitale: Our new creative director Maximilian Davis is in the process of creating a new global store concept for 2023 but was also involved in all the creative pieces within the Soho store. Technology, personalization and collaboration will be part of what we do going forward and the Soho concept will help define what that will look like.
Particularly for a younger consumer, the retail experience is is part of their social milieu so it’s about how we can create those shareable moments. And not just from a technology point of view. We’re also looking at other art or archival elements we can bring into the stores. It’s a critical part of making sure the physical stores remain important.
Is region specific product a further area for development?
DV: We do want to explore more exclusivity in our product that really reflects our different markets. For instance L.A. is very different from NY or Miami. People are craving things that not everyone has so that is going to be an important part of what we do in America.
You have taken personalization to the next level in Soho — with both the NFTs and the physical product — what does that bring to the table?
DV: To be able to experience and share is part of the new Ferragamo. Although we have a regular customization program we have never been able to do something 3D like this in our stores, potentially attracting a new and younger consumer.
What is the endgame in terms of the NFT project in particular?
DW: We’ve never walking away from tangible product but the Metaverse is a form of entertainment that will become more and more popular. So it’s both about educating our existing consumer who is not necessarily part of that world so that they can participate without being intimidated and also acquiring a new customer. It’s very important that we are catering to both.
For instance as well as helping people create their Ethereum wallet, we’ll also show them how to be on OpenSea so if they decide they want to trade their personalized NFT they can do that too.
How do you see Web 3.0 and the emerging Metaverse further playing out where Ferragamo is concerned?
DW: I do think it will play a role going forward — both instore and online. We are thinking about a digital experience around our archive in the fall. It’s also more democratic as more people get to see it than a physical exhibition.
Going forward, how will the Soho concept store evolve?
DW: We will most likely continue to work with Shxpir for a second round. We are also looking at applying the hologram personalization for other product — it doesn’t have to be a shoe. But there are many things we can explore.
This interview has been condensed for clarity.
The exclusive 6R3ENE sneaker features an upper made from ECONYL®, 100% regenerated from fishing nets and other nylon waste. Leather and suede overlays are made from manufacturing off-cuts and thread is 100% post-consumer recycled polyester. The design hints at house codes like the stacked rainbow sole of Ferragamo’s famous 1938 platform wedge. The shoe is priced at $1150 and will take 10 weeks to be delivered following its customization.
Meanwhile Shxpir has also designed a limited-edition capsule collection for the Greene Street store featuring 200 T-Shirts and 150 Sweatshirts. All proceeds will be donated to The Center — one of the oldest LGBTQ+ organizations in New York City.