The new Destination XL concept offers a fashion-forward superstore for the big and tall market
By Jenny S. Rebholz Schrank
October 09, 2010
Mark Steele Photography, Columbus, Ohio
There is a new destination for the bigger and taller man: an all-inclusive superstore in Schaumburg, Ill. Casual Male Retail Group Inc., the Canton, Mass.-based retailer focused on the XL-sized customer, introduces Destination XL (aka DXL), a unique store concept that offers a wide range of clothing, shoes and products ranging from value-conscious to luxury-level in dress, casual and active styles.
“The DXL concept was in response to our customer research to provide a full-service resource for all clothing needs to both our existing customers, as well as new customers all in one location,” says Ric Della Bernarda, chief marketing officer for Casual Male Retail Group. “For the first time, big and tall customers can shop from high-end merchandise to the lower end in a department store specialty shop.”
DXL is a marriage of two brands (Casual Male XL and Rochester Big & Tall) under one roof, so all adjacencies, store organization and branding had to be rethought, explains Ken Nisch, chairman of Southfield, Mich.-based JGA, which designed the concept. “The store provides a comprehensive offering that is fashion forward and trendy all under one roof, so the design needed to communicate a sense of authority and completeness, and provide selection and choice,” he says.
The DXL experience begins from the highway, where passersby catch a first glimpse of an over-scaled atrium window, bold graphics, iconic colors and unique forms that create a dramatic presence and high visibility from a distance, yet welcome customers as they approach the front door.
Customers feel a sense of arrival as they walk through the doors. The carefully considered floorplan offers viewpoints that immediately put customers at ease. For a demographic that is used to a challenging shopping experience, this is a refreshing change.
The store is organized around four key zones, as well as an “Essentials” Hub. The four distinctive environments—Active, Studio, Club and Casual Dress—have a storefront appeal that pulls the customer from zone to zone. “There are a series of pinball-type stops as customers are visually pulled to runways and elevated platforms in each zone at a point-by-point basis,” Nisch explains. “As you enter the store, you get a glance and begin to circulate clockwise. The runway displays are elevated with a stadium effect that keeps enticing the customers to circulate the store.”
Mannequins, props and feature lighting elements are used to create a distinct aesthetic within each zone. Movable carpet pads, fixtures and adjustable lighting allow for flexibility within the store layout and help define circulation patterns. The juxtaposition of runways with bulk fixtures creates a strong and distinctive statement throughout the space.
“With the new Destination XL design, for the first time, big and tall customers have an environment comparable to today’s men’s retailers,” Della Bernarda notes. “The design encourages customers to view the entire store, which houses more than 2,000 styles by department. Each department is lead with key visual focal points, which encourage shoppers to see inspirational outfits. Larger aisles, larger dressing rooms, big-screen TVs, as well as a center to order from the catalog, all add to the experience.”
A neutral color palette creates the foundation for the store and supports the overall flexibility, while accents of graphic wallcoverings in select areas add visual interest. Porcelain tile creates a consistent and upscale look, with moveable area rugs to define zones and support merchandising changes.
The runways in each zone provide visual cues for customers as they circulate, while also offering shopping tips on possible outfit combinations. In the Active zone, mannequins are actively engaged on the runway and stadium-inspired architectural details abound. The denim bar, constructed of end-block rustic timber on a raw steel base, is a highlight in the Studio zone, as well as a vintage pool table that is used for both play and display. Materials, such as a striped accent carpet, leather-topped runway table and nickel and walnut fixturing, signal the arrival in Casual Dress, while an exotic wood-topped runway and nickel and wenge fixtures signify the Club, the store’s most formal zone.
At the heart, or rather hub, of the store is Essentials. This unique area evolved from feedback from shoppers and their co-purchasers. The female shopping counterparts negatively responded to previous fitting rooms, so the Essentials hub takes a new approach to this area of the store. Improved lighting, a more open layout and mega graphics inside the fitting rooms have men’s interests in mind—think classic cars, boating, baseball and foosball—creating a “family room” feel. The curved walls outside of the fitting room area also provide major impact walls for merchandising.
“This is a customer constantly challenged by fit and selection, so DXL makes these customers feel proud that someone built a store with their specific needs in mind,” Nisch says. “When customers enter, they smile, take a breath and start shopping—they have arrived at a place that makes them feel ‘this is for me.’”