The Armani Exchange Fantasy Arrives in SoHo
Earlier this week, during one of those cold-but-hot Spring days in Manhattan, I found myself trotting down Broadway, where the glittering new Armani Exchange (A|X) flagship store has just opened. Given the reputation of minimalism and refined elegance Mr. Armani has built around his namesake fashion house, one might not associate the Armani fantasy with bustling SoHo. But, in fact, it was this very neighborhood that played host to Armani Exchange’s 1991 flagship, located just a few doors away at 568 Broadway.
Back then, Armani Exchange captivated downtown denizens with its simple and affordable approach to Italian luxury and uniform dressing, offering chic silhouettes, polos, basic black and white t-shirts, and hats emblazoned with the now iconic logo. More than 30 years later, the new flagship, sitting majestically at 563 Broadway, reflects Armani’s enduring taste for “the new metropolises,” as an associate at the store was eager to point out to me. With its stately feel and an open concept inspired by Milano and designed by Armani and his architects, it feels only right that SoHo provide the backdrop for the return of A|X to the Big Apple, which Mr. Armani calls “a unique and electrifying metropolis that you can’t help but love.”
Inside, one can find a juxtaposition of old and new. Oak flooring and exposed brick walls pay homage to the local architecture while a floor-to-ceiling screen plays campaign videos and LED displays flashing black-and-white A/X graphics wrap around the ceiling; appropriately, shoppers browse the clothes on offer to the sound of electronic music. It’s also important to note the store’s focus on sustainability through the use of wood sourced from the Forest Stewardship Council. And of course, it wouldn’t be a complete Armani Exchange experience without a selection of sleek leather jackets, the cornerstone of any SoHo getup. The few I tried on made me feel strong and unflappable, like a fashionable armor to take you through this exciting, inspiring, and sometimes overwhelming city.