It’s called the Digital District and it’s one of the more innovate aspects of the new expansion at the Westfield Valley Fair mall.
“This is our first Digital District, we invited eight stores into our plan…We did everything that’s really difficult for them to do, fixture programs, media systems and licensing, their people tracking, and their store buildouts were all done for them,” said Shawn Pauli, a Vice President of Leasing for Westfield Property Management Group.
The concept of the Digital District is simple: bring online concepts to life in a brick and mortar store. Online brands include clothing line Lett and skincare brand Ghost Democracy, as well as optics retailer Felix Gray and crowdfunding retailer come to life, We The People. Four more stores will open next month.
“We worked with a company called Winston. They can take a brand from dot-com into a retail space, help with the branding and how do I bring your culture alive? And how do I help your product sell?” said Pauli.
For the brands themselves, it’s a whirlwind adventure. Justine Liu, the founder of modern, leisure wear brand Lett, says she met with the design agency just two months ago and now she’s getting ready to open.
“A mix of working with Westfield and also Winston [the design agency], they were amazing…I obviously gave my overarching design and principle vision for it. The two were really able to come together and figure out what I wanted to do,” said Liu. “We’re really excited. It’s been really fun seeing this come to life. This was a really great opportunity to sort of dip our toe into what brick and mortar can look like for Lett.”
Ghost Democracy founder Rex Chou has been in hurry up mode since August. He opened a two-week popup in Southern California in August; then eight more popups before Black Friday. Those are now closing and he’s ready to open his first flagship store.
“It’s been amazing working with the entire team here. We’re looking to change the conversation on clean skincare,” said Chou. “I think a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon and saying, ‘No sulfates. No parabens.’ But we actually go beyond no essential oils, no fragrance, no dry alcohols, no silicones, that’s what 95 percent of the industry uses.”
For We The People, retail is the perfect way to get consumers to interact with its crowdfunding products.
“The products that you’re excited about but you never really get to try and touch them. In this store, you have the awesome experience of trying, touching and feeling before you buy them on the spot so there’s no risk for you,” said Nison Chan, Co-Founder of We The People.
Chan says the fun part is, the products will rotate every two to three weeks so that each visit to the store is a new experience.
In addition to adding the Digital District, Westfield Valley Fair expanded the footprint of multiple high-end retailers and added new retailers like Bloomingdale’s, Anthropologie, UNTUCKit and Rodd and Gunn. It also added more than 2,800 new parking spaces to increase the parking by 35 percent.
And all of it is free, for now.
“Although we are working on some sort of controlled parking system in the future, it will not happen this year. No paid parking,” said Kate Diefenderfer, Marketing Director at Westfield. “Valet will continue to be the same charge it’s always been and available on both sides of the property as it always has been, but no changes to the parking other than that.”
The new expansion at Westfield Valley Fair is now open to the public. New stores and restaurants will continue to open in the expansion throughout 2020.