The transformation of Stanford Shopping Center continues this month with the opening of several new retail stores: The North Face, Luisa Spagnoli, AllSaints and Uno de 50.
NORTH FACE BOLDLY OPENS AT STANFORD ... A walk through the front door of The North Face presents a surprising scene. Store employees call it a "visual explosion." Indeed, Stanford Shopping Center's new outdoor apparel and equipment store has created an unusual effect. "It's hard to know if you're standing inside or outside," said one shopper, who was referring to the massive, 18-foot-tall tree seemingly growing out of the middle of the store. Add to that a couple of large sky windows simulating the outside weather on a digital screen, and long door handles made from Juniper trees.
The store, which occupies a 6,500-square-foot-space, is in the newly renovated part of the mall, and takes up a portion of the space that housed the old Bloomingdale's. The North Face officially opened on April 29, just one day after Palo Alto's other North Face closed its doors at 217 Alma St., following a 24-year run at that location. So the adage, "When one door closes, another one opens," is absolutely true in this case.
The new North Face is considered a pilot store for the brand, according to store manager Tina Yap. "It's the only one of its kind of the approximately 100 stores we have in the U.S., and the merchandise is a more elevated assortment of clothing than our Alma Street store had," Yap said. Another nugget: "We are also the first North Face store ever to feature mannequins in marble, stone and bronze," Yap said, referring to the skin color of the more than 60 life-size mannequins scattered throughout the store. The marble mannequin is light gray in color, the stone is a darker gray and the bronze, well, is bronze. Many of the colorful mannequins, which are placed in nearly every possible space, are portrayed in active or athletic poses, further supporting the outdoorsy feel of the store.
Yap pointed out the two, large interior sky windows, placed up near the ceiling of the store, that feature artistic, atmospheric content mimicking the outside conditions. "The digital scene from the windows relates to our current weather," she said. "So if its raining outside, we showcase rain. If it's sunny, we showcase the sunshine. And then there are clouds and stars at night."
And what about that huge tree in the middle of the space? "It's a Redwood that measures about two feet in diameter, and it was salvaged from Southern Oregon. We consider it the centerpiece of the store," said Eli Petricka, the company's creative director.
He said the store itself, which highlights localized, community elements, is based on the topography of Yosemite. "We wanted to represent the local community," Petricka said. The front entrance, for instance, has "Palo Alto" engraved in concrete, complete with its GPS coordinates.
A TRIO OF BOUTIQUES OPEN AT STANFORD ... Two clothing stores and a jewelry store also opened this month at Stanford Shopping Center. The Italian-based Luisa Spagnoli has made Stanford its first U.S. location. The store's upscale merchandise includes clothing, handbags and accessories. And AllSaints -- yes it's one word -- a retailer headquartered in London, celebrates innovation, design and individuality, according to a company spokesperson. The 3,000-square-foot Stanford location has 162 authentic Singer sewing machines in the middle of the store. The British import, which also has a second store in northern California on San Francisco's Geary Street, sells men's and women's clothing and accessories, and is said to be known for its iconic leather biker jackets. The last of the trio of new openings is a unique, hand-crafted jewelry store. Uno de 50 is a stunning addition to the shopping center. Each collection of jewelry has a limited edition of 50 pieces. Hard to miss: the oversized, iconic padlock on the front door, artistically created to symbolize the protection of the exclusivity of the brand's jewelry designs.