Outdoor shoe and lifestyle brand Timberland opened a specialty concept store on Thursday, The Timberland Tree Lab, in the King of Prussia mall in Pennsylvania, according to a press release.
The experimental store carries a theme of "Streetology," emphasizing city style and performance technology "tested and proven for long days (and nights) in the city." The curated product collections and brand stories are presented gallery style and will change every six weeks, the company said.
Customers age 21 and older can sample a local craft beer from Tröegs Independent Brewing and all customers are welcome to a bottle of water that the company said could one day be recycled into Timberland linings or shoelaces. Store staff sporting custom Tree Lab hoodies are on hand to help with the merchandise or to let shoppers know about local city events, the company said.
Timberland’s Streetology theme is mainly dedicated to men’s styles. Next up, however, is a theme for women, SHEvolution, with a curated selection of boots and shoes and a holiday-themed installation will debut in early November, the company said.
The concept store attempts to leverage brick-and-mortar to its best advantage by showcasing products and adding a more experiential, fun component in the form of beverages and local event guidance.
It’s also a pivot for Timberland from its outdoor ethos to a spotlight on streetwear, something that has helped athletic-wear company Adidas reclaim its number two spot in that market.
"A shopping experience today reflects a journey through a hyper-connected world that's constantly seeking something new, and our stores need to deliver on that, every day," Kate Kibler, vice president of Timberland's direct to consumer business in North America, said in a statement. "The Tree Lab is more than just a place to shop — everything a consumer experiences from the moment they enter has been designed to enhance their visit, expand their horizons, and leave them with a great memory to go along with that beautiful new pair of shoes."
Just a couple of years ago analysts expected to see Timberland owner VF Corp. (which also owns Vans and North Face) to acquire Lululemon or Lands’ End. But rather than expanding its portfolio, things have been quiet and last July the company actually sized down, selling its contemporary brands businesses to Israeli apparel company Delta Galil Industries for $120 million. The sale was another sign of the pressures in the apparel industry, which has been hit by changing consumer priorities and the proliferation of lower-priced fast-fashion goods. The strong dollar of late also hasn’t helped apparel manufacturers sourcing in Asia, as they trade with the U.S. dollar.
This new retail effort could help. Timberland's concept store is one of many new retail initiatives that the brand says it’s introducing this fall, including a series of "flex retail" stores nationwide. The first of those will open at the Mall of America on Sept. 1. Timberland also plans to open specialty stores in Stanford, CA at the Stanford Shopping Center on Aug. 18 and on Portland, OR’s Couch Street shopping district on Sept. 1.