NICK WOOSTER ON THE PARK & BOND x GQ POP-UP SHOP
In a recent interview with Complex Magazine, Jena Lyons said, “There’s such an oxymoron because people say ‘Men don’t shop!’ and yet no one is making it comfortable for them to shop”. Last week Park & Bond and GQ proved her wrong when they opened the doors to their impressively conceptualized and executed pop-up shop in Manhattan. The space was designed by Nick Wooster, no introduction needed, and late last week we spoke about how the store went from idea to reality. During our conversation it became clear just how much thought and expertise he and his team dedicated to the project, and how much they’ve raised the bar for men’s retail. – M
What was the original impetus to create the pop-up shop?
I think that I speak for everyone involved when I say that it is the first time that both brands really had an opportunity to come to life. As a magazine, GQ lives on paper and online, while Park & Bond is entirely virtual. So, both P&B and GQ were interested in having a physical experience – something you could touch and feel. Pictures and words are very powerful, but it was their goal to create an actual experience around the product.
So you were really able apply your expertise to this new kind of retail space, what was that experience like?
I am so grateful that they asked me to be a part of it. Personally, I am a retailer, I love stores so I was super happy to be given the opportunity for both brands to say ok, “make it come to life”. It’s phenomenal, it’s the most amazing opportunity. And I’ve worked in stores since I was 16 years old so to be able to help create something out of a concept was really one of the most creative experiences that I’ve ever had.
It was a very multi-layered team, it wasn’t just me. In terms of the vision of the store, there were several things at play. It is, after all, a pop up, so time and money were our main constraints. We had a great space, and a very short lead time so we had to make quick decisions. And because we had a great production team everything came together in perfect alignment.
What was your initial concept and how was it brought to life?
I think guys want a comfortable, masculine spot to be. That’s kind of how I want to live and where I feel good. In achieving that, I was very inspired by grey flannel – it is to me the most basic and perfect menswear fabrics, a humble fabric that is also so elegant – there’s nothing better to me than a guy in a flannel suit. I also knew every color that we brought in would work around it. So, with that being the perfect backdrop, we took lighter shades of grey and paired them with khaki, burlap and paper – other humble materials we could do budget wise that would still create a lot of impact.
After color, it was about proportions. We wanted things to feel permanent and expensive in an impermanent space so there was a bit of a slight of hand. But the people who built it did an amazing job in interpreting the idea with a sort of permanent, masculine feel. When they put in the final touches such as the grey, white, and white oak fixtures it just made for an easy backdrop for a guy to understand.
What are your favorite pieces in the store?
I love the whole mix. And I think that’s really what the shoppers are interested in. It isn’t just about clothes, it isn’t just about accessories and gadgets. It was a perfect marriage between those two worlds. So many stores just focus on one or the other, and we have a really nice balance of the two. Specifically, the vintage watches are in my opinion the stand alone reason to go and see the shop. I think we have an amazing collection that was very well curated by the Park & Bond team. There’s something for everyone – a real collector as well as someone who just appreciates watches.
From a clothing side we have great outerwear and pea coats and the Grenson Freds are one of my favorite boots of the season. If you’re going away for the holiday the Olear Brown swimming trunks to me are the perfect thing that a guy should wear. We really have good holiday, resort and weather appropriate pieces that make the pop-up a great place to shop right now.
Will there be more pop ups to come, (fingers crossed)?
That’s for the P&B and GQ teams to decide in the future. But I think, and I can’t speak for them, that everybody believes it is a good idea and personally I think its a very portable concept that other places would be happy to have.
Many thanks to Nick, who also happens to be an exceptionally nice guy, for taking the time to have this discussion. I highly recommend stopping by the space if you can, (or check out some photos below and on Flickr). The Park & Bond x GQ pop up is located at 414 W. 14th St., between 9th Avenue and Washington Street. It is open until December 18th, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., except Saturday (open till 7 p.m.) and Sunday (open till 5 p.m.); closed Monday & Tuesday.