Icebreaker is an outdoor apparel company that makes its garments from ethically sourced New Zealand merino wool. Mapos’ renovation of Icebreaker’s Manhattan location puts the brand story and its heritage front and center, and offers a sneak peak at the new retail concept (also by Mapos) that will debut in Bethesda, Maryland and Chicago in late-2013.
Based on Icebreaker’s wholesale roots, the existing store did not deliver on brand or customer experience levels. The task was to quickly renovate and bring it more in line with the future of the brand; it also offered the team an opportunity to prototype various concepts that will be used in future locations.
Among the features that will be rolled out in future locations is the dramatic “Mountain” fixture, shown above. A metaphor for New Zealand’s Southern Alps, it features modular units that stack and reconfigure, and can be used as a merchandising and storytelling device.
Oversized images of New Zealand, dramatic landscapes, and sheep stations and farmers directly associated with the company help to illustrate the brand story. Icebreaker’s history and accolades for the products help to emphasize not only the company’s heritage, but also the performance aspects. Elements such as the cedar doors in the fitting rooms—the same material that is used in sheep pens—point to the more nuanced aspects of the brand.
The community space serves a few purposes. It offers a place where people can sit and peruse books and magazines on a variety of subjects related to the Icebreaker brand and lifestyle, including outdoor adventure travel and sustainable design. The orange column features endorsements that help to tell the performance story and a dramatic slide show of Icebreaker gear in action. Lastly, it centers the many brand stories in one location, encouraging a counter-clockwise flow through the store.
Mapos also designed the large open framed light fixtures to supplement the existing lighting system.
For budget and schedule reasons, one of the objectives was to reuse as much of the existing material—mainly white laminate—as possible. To infuse the space with a more natural feel, the team introduced several textured wood elements, including re-clad two-way fixtures and two new custom tables, which serve as anchors and oversized display devices in the men’s and women’s areas. Sign boards and shelves are also made with the same wood and layered on top of the existing wall system.
Icebreaker’s collection of base layer apparel is the company’s top seller. It is neatly organized and displayed on the back wall, and mannequins display the packaged products. Flanked by images of sheep, the wall also serves as a focal point towards the rear of the store that draws customers into the new Icebreaker brand experience.
Mapos has also completed a similar renovation in Icebreaker’s San Francisco location.