R13 Flagship — New York, New York

Date: 2019
Status: Complete
Category: Commercial, Retail
Size: 3,000 s.f.
Team: Chris Leong, Dominic Leong, Yu-Hsiang Lin, Christopher Lee, Gabriel Burkett
Collaborators: Adam Paikowsky + 5Ten Visuals (A/V and Media), Lighting Workshop (Lighting Design)

Leong Leong’s design for R13 Denim’s first flagship store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood creates a strong contrast between the exposed brick shell of the historically landmarked building and a series of sharp, illuminated clothing displays. Drawing upon the history of iconic stores in the neighborhood, Leong Leong sought to create a space that weaves together visual content, the clothing, and the existing architecture to create an atmospheric environment. 

One enters the cast-iron building through a compressed entry way, lit by a series of 13 fluorescent tubes before entering the main showroom space, and passes mannequins and long counter in the entrance. The showroom opens up to a double-height space in which existing brick walls, plumbing risers, and electrical conduit are left rough and exposed in stark contrast to a series of five display ‘monoliths’ seamlessly wrapped in LED screen. Angled slightly in plan, the monoliths are viewed as a series as one moves through the space, creating a sense of friction between the new and the old. 

The design embodies the dualistic nature of the brand: simultaneously maximal and minimal. Like the worn and textured punk-inspired garments subversively tailored to unfamiliar effect, the store design integrates traces of the past into a forward-looking media platform. The clothes and architecture are in a dialogue with each other and tell a story about R13 sensibility through the tension between precise geometry and the frayed texture of the clothing. Leong Leong has designed projects for fashion brands including 3.1 Phillip Lim, Opening Ceremony, Siki Im, and 6397. 

The clothes are displayed within the monoliths, creating a sense of intimacy as shoppers move throughout the space. Minimalist details such as light-diffusing surfaces at the top of the display niches and full-surface mirrors one face of the monolith, present the clothing in a clean and elevated frame.

At the rear of the store, minimal profile sliding glass doors open to an expansive back patio surrounded by adjacent buildings and open to the sky. In order to leave the existing space as untouched as possible, all of the building systems (mechanical, electrical, and lighting) are housed within the LED monoliths. A backlit denim display wall faces the rear-yard.