A new store opened on Thursday, November 17th called simply "W-21". The name is derived directly from the shop’s address in Amsterdam’s unique 9-Streets neighbourhood where it is situated at Wolvenstraat #21. The new space was opened by ECCO Sko A/S as an experimental retail concept and testing environment.
Founded in Bredebro Denmark by Karl Toosbuy, ECCO is a leading global footwear brand with presence in 88 countries. Its collections are currently showcased in over 3,000 dedicated ECCO stores and shop-in-shops.
Since its establishment in 1963 the company has invested in a long tradition of innovation and has pioneered new developments across all major design and production processes with a particular dedication to direct injection production techniques [D.I.P.] as well as highly progressive approaches to the tanning and finishing of premium leathers. ECCO designs are distinguished by a blend of these two elements - high tech D.I.P. sole assemblies integrated with premium leather uppers.
A Project of I.L.E. Innovation Lab ECCO
The brand’s commitment to innovation is not limited to shoe design and production as is evidenced by the recent establishment of I.L.E. or Innovation Lab ECCO. I.L.E. is a stand-alone future visioning studio opened in Amsterdam last year. I.L.E.’s international team of industrial designers, researchers, engineers and futurists have been tasked with the research and development of new modes of product design and production as well as a broader remit relating to the overall customer journey, retail experience and service-proposition.
Given this charter it was natural for the team to undertake the creation of a dedicated retail lab. W-21 was conceived as an environment where a wide range of alternative retail techniques and standards could be tested for possible future integration within the official ECCO retail network. It represents a place where the brand is both “free to succeed” and “free to fail” in keeping with the scientific principle of trial-and-error that remains at the heart of R&D.
I.L.E. worked in partnership with longtime ECCO collaborators, Energy Plan Creative to develop the shop’s inaugural narrative and merchandising strategies. Considerable effort went into to narrowing the overall focus and anchoring each element of storytelling and merchandising directly to the brand’s essential DNA; premium raw materials animated by high-tech direct injection production platforms with an eye to achieving shameless comfort. This more single-minded creative ethos is manifested throughout the store.
The team created a small collection for the store made up of both current and formerly out-of-production styles which have been re-specified and re-issued in bespoke leather and trim combinations. Each variation was developed with an emphasis on simplicity, quality and modernity. The Tannery Hacks range is only available at W-21 but directly reflects the same essential attributes as the mainline ECCO range. All Tannery Hack editions were created in monochrome.
ECCO X The Last Conspiracy
ECCO is in its third collaboration cycle with artisan shoe brand, The Last Conspiracy, also from Denmark. Up to now the ECCO X THE LAST CONSPIRACY range has not been available in dedicated ECCO stores, being sold instead within THE LAST CONSPIRACY’S existing network of elite international retailers like Luisa via Roma, L’Eclaireur Paris and OAK NYC. For W-21 the range is focused on monochrome and includes special editions produced only for the shop.
ECCO Shoes Seasonal Highlights
Styles from the current ECCO ranges for both men and women have been carefully curated by the team with an emphasis on the simple fusion of premium raw materials with high-tech direct injection production platforms. For W-21’s first seasonal rotation this assortment also celebrates monochrome variations in black, white and shades of grey.
Investment In Understanding
The I.L.E. team has also integrated state-of-the-art data capture systems throughout the store which will allow management, merchandising and service approaches the benefit of automated real-time analysis. I.L.E. sees this stable fact-based platform as a way of providing the means to nurture a culture of ongoing service improvement.
Beyond developing a better understanding of customer attitudes and shopping preferences, the shop will also expand the parameters of data-capture and assessment to include product feedback and the possibility of custom comfort-engineering innovations rooted directly in individual customer biometrics. This includes conventional metrics like foot size and shape, but can also reflect weight, stride, posture, gait, balance and other aspects of customer anatomy that naturally impact the fit, feel and long-term comfort of premium footwear.
In keeping with W-21’s essential charter, the store will continue to be used to test new approaches to the ECCO retail experience. Each element of that overall experience will be subjected to new variations and interventions. As the most promising programs emerge from this new dedicated testing-ground, they will be reviewed for possible deployment in whole or in part across a broader ECCO retail network. ECCO expects that the brand’s indelible characteristics will remain central to these tests and intend a continued focus on the central brand proposition; premium raw materials animated by high-tech direct injection production platforms with an eye to achieving shameless comfort.