Retuning Retail: A Case Study

Retail, Verdon Architects, Asbury Park Clothing Company (APCC), San Francisco, Bay Area
Image courtesy of Verdon Architects
Retail, Verdon Architects, Asbury Park Clothing Company (APCC), San Francisco, Bay Area
Image courtesy of Verdon Architects

By Jack Verdon, AIA Verdon Architects, Inc.

This article will also appear in The VIEW, the quarterly newsletter of Commercial Real Estate Women San Francisco (CREW SF). CREW SF’s mission is to develop and advance women as leaders in the commercial real estate industry. It is dedicated to changing business’ gender trends and closing the parity gap by giving women in real estate the support, resources, and opportunities they need to connect, influence, and lead. For chapter news, events and membership information visit crewsf.org.

Retail, Verdon Architects, Asbury Park Clothing Company (APCC), San Francisco, Bay Area
Verdon
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he up-and-coming men’s jeans maker Asbury Park Clothing Company (APCC) has been putting significant time and energy into designing and fabricating its American-made selvedge denim jeans since 2010. The product can be found online and in over 40 boutique locations across the US and Canada. Now APCC is getting ready to venture into its first proprietary outlet.

APCC is a rebellious, rock-and-roll brand geared toward the millennial looking for an authentic, well-crafted, American-made jean. Although Asbury Park jeans are worn by guys in rock bands such as Bon Jovi and Guns N’ Roses, APCC is targeting the new generation of musicians, such as Highly Suspect, Red Sun Rising, and Eagles of Death Metal, in order to capture the latest group of fans between the ages of 17 and 25.

When APCC approached Verdon Architects to develop a prototype for the launching of its national chain of brick-and-mortar stores, it appeared to be a common request. Naturally, the physical qualities of the new retail prototype would further establish the brand in the marketplace and play a key role in defining its product. But as VA started working with Jimmy Hankins, the CEO and founder, to translate APCC’s gritty, “anything goes” lifestyle brand into its first physical location, it quickly become apparent that the traditional retail store was not the right fit for the Asbury Park brand.

“The denim industry is in a major transition, and the latest generation of consumers is eager for a new brand they can identify with, call their own, and grow along side of,” says Hankins. “Most major brands are product driven by touch-points, with contrived marketing and ad campaigns. In today’s world this business model is no longer as effective on the latest consumer generation… Many brands have lost their ‘creative culture’ to a ‘margin culture’ due to mergers and buyouts, which has compromised their quality in order to meet financial pressure.”

Hankins’s goal is to have Asbury Park Clothing Company’s online presence and its physical locations complement one another, reinforcing the lifestyle brand. A progressive and daring decision was made to create a branded destination social club.

The prototype club has raw concrete floors and a gritty industrial look with well-crafted metal, leather, and woodwork, creating an authentically cool American hangout that feels like your favorite dive bar. The space is designed to be a flexible event space outfitted with a removable stage, comfortable worn leather sofas, and a solid oak bar to check out a pair of Asbury Park jeans or throw back a couple of cold ones.

Hankins describes the club as “a place to hang out, shoot some pool, listen to live music, try on a pair of Asbury’s if you like…but it’s more about hanging out than being in a store to be sold something.

About the Author
Jack Verdon, AIA is the owner and principal of Verdon Architects, Inc., an architecture and design firm in San Francisco specializing in ground-floor retail and residential projects. Jack is the cochair of the San Francisco AIA Small Firms Committee, as well as a guest design critic at the Academy of Art. For more information please visit www.verdonarchitects.com.

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