When Italian fashion brand Prada approached OMA to design its stores, it was looking to experiment with new environments that would enhance the appeal of its brand, but what AMO quickly recognized was that a label was not enough to guarantee authenticity. The projects for the Italian fashion company Prada span from research on shopping and new concepts for Prada as a brand to the creation of three big stores in the United States. But beyond restructuring the physical reality of the brand, Prada‟s virtual presence is simultaneously defined through extensive in-store technology projects and the creation of a website. The combination of these aspects generates an integrated service structure that enables Prada to provide a new sense of exclusivity, but also to reinforce the diverse and intriguing aura of the brand.
In-store Technology A series of experiential and service-oriented features enhances both functioning and aura of the stores. The dressing rooms are equipped with „magic mirrors‟: A plasma screen invisibly built into the large mirror surface that allows customers to see themselves both from the front and the back at the same time. An integrated time delay can even capture and replay movements. The doors are made of Privalite glass that the customer can switch from transparent to translucent and control the privacy of the dressing room. Equipped with RFID [radio frequency identity] antennas, the „garment closet‟ is able to register merchandize brought into the dressing room and display an inventory of icons on a touch screen. Here, the customer can request more specific information on the clothes, but also browse through alternative items of the collection. On the web-site, the garment closet has its virtual counter-part, the „web-closet‟, which contains a history of all pieces tried on. The customer can not only build up his personal history and selection of likes, but also order things he tried but didn‟t buy in the store.
A system of „ubiquitous screens‟ performs a double function: submerged into the display systems of the store, the screens show aura-related content but can also be used as communication platforms for staff and customer. Suspended from a hangbar between suits, or built into some of the horizontal display cases, their imagery portrays the brand beyond the simple presence of fashion or catwalk shows. Clips from the Prada prototyping and production facilities in Italy, from their involvement with sports [America‟s Cup] and the arts [Fondazione Prada], are mixed with images from movies, scenes from world news, or the sales of Prada fakes across the world. When activated through a „staff device‟ – a control feature for the sales agents – the ubiquitous screens can become a tool for the staff to show specific information like alternative outfits matching the piece just selected or real-time information about what is readily available in the store.