October 29, 2014

Discovering Fashion Retail Technology via the Red Brick Road of Union Square San Francisco

Besides the grocery kind, shopping is really just another form of entertainment. In fact, shopping is rated one of the top forms of entertainment for millennials in the United States.* Yes this group includes me (in case you were wondering). This week, I've had the honor of being a Guest Blogger for the city's top tourist destination and marketing firm, Union Square San Francisco. What this means, is enjoying one of my favorite pastimes, while letting the city know what I think. These opinions are all my own, and personally, I'm most fascinated by the fashion retail tech that seems to be popping up in our local stores down on the square.


I was recently invited to meet with Jeani Hunt-Gibbon; who is the Marketing & Communications Manager for Union Square Business Improvement District. The offices are located directly above the square, in a historical building with beautiful large glass windows and a bird’s eye view of many stores and happenings.

Never-ending staircase in the building that hosts Union Square San Francisco Offices
Jeanie Hunt-Gibbon, best tour guide in town if you ask me.
Following Jeanie's advice on where to shop, here are a few highlights of my journey through the Fashion Retail brick road @unionsquaresf... 


First stop was for a quick refreshment at Starbucks, where the countertops promised wireless surface charging for electronics. Nice. 


Next, I stopped at the Japanese retail transplant, Uniqlo, to check out it’s famous ‘Magic’ mirror, which was supposed to automagically help color match anything you tried on. 



I pulled on one of the nearby down jackets and attempted to follow the mirror's step by step instructions. These are my results:


"Looking Good!" The display complimented me underneath some masking tape. My image appeared for a nanosecond, then sparks flew (not really, but they did in my imagination) and my image fizzled into the little white line you see there. :/

So yes, unfortunately the magic mirror responded to technology the same way many other fashion-focused retailers are...a little unenthusiastically. With the fashion tech display out of order, I optimistically climbed up the LED rainbow staircase to check out some warm winter styles. Luckily I found a puffy vest that will get me through some the chilly weather we have coming. More on this later.


After Uniqlo, I went to see how the huge Urban Outfitters store outfitted it’s Bay Area clientele. 


I was a little surprised to see one of the key influencers of our Millennial generation sell the opposite of anything techy. They stocked record players, instant photography equipment, and even had the ATM decked out like an old school arcade. "Throw-Back Fitters" it should be called.




The highlight of this experience was when I found a mannequin wearing my dream oxford with a Peter Pan collar, and since they were sold out, one of the employees (coincidentally also a fellow blogger) on the floor wrestled the mannequin for a good 10 minutes to pull it off so I could take it home. She gets me. Definitely coming back to this store.

Love this look! Inspired, I styled a similar version of it here for the ballgame.
My hero and fellow blogger, @fashion_gams saves the day.
Last stop before trying on some shoes and hitting the Banana Republic flagship store on Sutter Street was at Rims & Goggles. I'd never been in that store before but the giant orange SALE sign caught my eye...


I was absolutely thrilled to discover the new fashion retail tech they had on hand.


This display allowed users with poor vision to compare styles of frames on their face. You just pick out a few different frames, then the web cam takes your photos as you try them on. When you're finished, you put back on your own pescriptions so you can see how you look and compare each picture to the next. It was really fun (and helpful too)!


I didn't find too many other outlets for my fashion retail tech curiosity just yet, but hope to make more discoveries soon, so let me know if you hear of anything particularly innovative! 


Lastly, next time you find yourself in Union Square, don't forget to travel one block over. Lots of fun shops over on Sutter Street, especially the Banana Republic flagship store. This store is massive. Several levels deep, they have designed it more like an art gallery than a fashion department. 


The shopping inspiration room holds sensory images and scents to spark your shopping creativity.


The store focused on a true VIP experience, not only did one of the employees show me around the artistic displays, she and an in-store stylist suggested really cute looks for me to try on.


After picking up a few things here, I stopped on my way down the street.


Turning right, I found myself looking into a beautiful display showcasing piloting fashion of the past...


Want to know what pilots wear today? Stay tuned for my next post.

-XO Julia


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*Refernce: http://www.uli.org/wp-content/uploads/ULI-Documents/Generation-Y-Shopping-and-Entertainment-in-the-Digital-Age.pdf