Nike continues to prove that the “retail is dead” claim is only meant for brands stuck in aging business models. As the digital experience becomes more of a priority year after year, the Swoosh has made clear shifts to strengthen its online offerings (think its release turned content platform SNKRS app) as well as significant efforts to evolve the purpose and function of brick-and-mortars. Gone are the days of Niketown, and now digitally led retail concepts are here to push the brand forward, like the locally-curated Live stores or the House of Innovation flagships.
The Nike Rise stores are meant to be “the bridging of digital and physical to create immersive store experiences with an identity that’s inseparable from its host city.” In a city that’s one of the most digitally-connected markets, the retail concept will offer many experiences throughout the space, including: multi-level, immersive product trend and sport updates called Sports Pulse; an interactive RFID-enabled digital footwear table that allows information about product to be easily accessible; as well as three “experience zones” meant to encourage shoppers to engage in sport in different ways. These zones include local sports participation notices in The Sport Hub, active lifestyle coaching through group or one-on-one sessions in The Huddle, and a selection of hyperlocal Seoul product in The City Replay.
Additionally, The City Reply zone provides customers with a year-round opportunity to help extend the life of their Nike product. Shoppers can repair old, worn items as well as customize new or worn pieces. This effort is only a slice of the overall sustainability-focused initiative that’s also a centerpiece in the concept store.
Nike Rise Seoul is the first market in Asia to launch the brand’s fully integrated Recycling & Donation service. Although shoppers in the area have been able to drop off gently-worn shoes, this is the first time apparel is being accepted. We will see if Nike Refurbished, which was introduced earlier this year, will follow suit in the market. All donated product will either be recycled or donated to an organization that helps communities facing disasters or other challenging circumstances. For example, donations from other markets are sent to U.S. nonprofit Soles4Souls to help keep a steady supply of product for small businesses started under the organization’s micro-enterprise program – however, the exact organizations tied to Nike Seoul are currently unconfirmed.
Nike aims to ensure every part of each item is recycled in the right way. Donated product may be broken down and recycled for specific second-life uses. Polyester materials are eventually used in footwear, gift bags, and office space applications like upholstery; cotton can be used for office and retail items like table tops; and footwear is turned into Nike Grind.
The Swoosh is adamant of not only making its retail experience a digitally-connected one, it wants to prioritize reimagining its Move to Zero initiative for the future. It goes beyond developing sustainable apparel and footwear out of recycled materials. It’s also about how the full experience as well as the space itself — which is among the first Nike stores to secure a LEED Gold certification — is setting ourselves up for a better tomorrow.
There’s no denying shopping must be reinvented, and Nike is doing the work. What’s also important is how much of a priority brands are giving to make its vision of the future Earth-friendlier during these reinventions.
In other Nike news, the Swoosh has begun releasing classic-looking Dunks and Air Force 1s, but with recycled materials.