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Brief Published: 22 Jan 2019

Showfields Reimagines the Department Store as E-Brand Expo


An increasing number of direct-to-consumer (online first) brands are exploring bricks-and-mortar retail to accelerate growth, testing promising territories via pop-ups. Leveraging this shift, NY multi-brand concept Showfields is giving several a spotlight at once – offering prime retail space that’s both customisable and serviced for a monthly fee.

Boldly billed as “the most interesting store in the world”, Showfields is a four-storey, 15,000 sq ft space in New York’s Noho district that’s aiming to establish itself as a department store for digital start-ups keen to trial the appeal of physical retailing.

Echoing the Expo Stores detailed in Brand Spaces: Trends & Opportunities 18/19, brands which apply to have one of the shop-in-shops online can rent a fully staffed, customisable space for three or six months. For an additional fee, Showfields’ in-house agency can design and construct their booth. Brands control and keep all sales revenue and can choose whether to keep stock in-store, or limit customers to ordering online via in-store screens.  

Launching in phases, Showfields is currently tapping into the perennial January wellness frenzy – exhibiting nine brands including US electric toothbrush maker Quip and NY personalised haircare service Function of Beauty within the retail lab on street level. The area is complemented by an art gallery, an influencer-curated store that undergoes a complete redesign on a monthly basis, and a carnival-themed café from US vegan chain By Chloe.

Three additional floors are scheduled to open in March, including expo spaces for design and homeware brands and a dedicated community/co-working space. Ultra-confident, Showfields has already announced plans to open 100 locations in the next decade, with a second US location later in 2019.

For a similar attempt to reinvent the department store, see Neighbourhood Goods in Texas – a concept space featuring only a changing selection of pop-ups.