That’s according to Interbrand, which just released its 2021 list of 100 Best Global Brands.
See Nak Armstrong’s First Jewelry Store
It just opened in Austin, Texas.
Opened last month, the new Austin, Texas flagship is a project three years in the making for the designer.
“If done right, there is no virtual substitute for the immersive experience of a brick-and-mortar store. You can communicate more fully the ethos of the brand and the entire range of product offerings in a physical setting than on a website or through social media,” Armstrong told National Jeweler.
Armstrong spent a decade helming another jewelry brand before launching his eponymous label in 2011 and a diffusion sterling silver line called Nakard last year.
The new Nak Armstrong boutique is an important milestone for the brand, providing a physical touchpoint in which Armstrong can exert full creative control.
“I felt it was time for us to present our collections in their entirety in a space that was a physical articulation of the brand,” he explained.
“While Bergdorf Goodman and our other retail partners do a beautiful job of representing the brand, I wanted a 360-degree experience for the client, a place where I could personally see their response to the collection and where I could collaborate with them on custom pieces for their own personal collections.”
The Nak Armstrong retail environment is inspired by its Austin locality, as well as the city of Milan, particularly a trip Armstrong took with spouse and co-owner Walter in which they were enamored with the city’s mid-century Brutalist architecture and muted jewel tones.
Austin architecture and interior design firm Studio A Group, led by Ann Tucker, worked to harmoniously blend the seemingly disparate influences to create a unique style that wouldn’t look like any other store, which was important to Armstrong.
“The more virtual our world becomes, the more brands begin to look the same,” he said.
“It is harder to differentiate yourself online since the need for a streamlined user experience tends to limit site aesthetics and creativity. Physical retail provides a greater opportunity to define one’s brand without a lot of the technical constraints of the web.”
Upon entering the space guests encounter a 10-foot-tall freestanding quasi-jewelry box crafted in chartreuse velvet, which functionally blocks the view and noise of the street and emotionally provides a threshold to enter the Nak Armstrong world.
This is Armstrong’s favorite part of the store, as it “provides a big reveal for the clients as they transition from the entrance to the main display cases in the center of the store.”
Next, one crosses an impressive hand-cut mosaic floor (a nod to Milanese design) made of marble, slate, and terracotta (the latter providing the Austin twist) to enter the central space.
Anchoring the long, narrow space room is a custom showcase running nearly the length of the store with high-gloss deep green panels and walnut accents. Green quartzite runs across the top, dividing it into two display cases.
Jewelry is also on view in recessed displays in the pink marble walls and along a continuous, curving shelf. The brand’s signature color, sphene, is accented throughout the store.
“Because every surface in our flagship, from the pink and gray marble wall to the mosaic floors and the lacquered green cabinetry, reflects the motifs and colors of the jewelry, visitors tell us that it broadens their understanding of the inspiration behind the brand.”
The space offers plenty of opportunities for events, like designer meet-and-greets with Armstrong, collection launches, and collaborative events with other Austin-based artists; even a 10th anniversary party is in the works.
The store is in Austin’s hip SoCo district, standing for “South Congress,” and is part of the area’s new SoHo House Development.
It sits next to the SoHo House Hotel in the Music Lane Shopping Center, and its floor-to-ceiling back windows provide a view of the St. Cecilia Hotel and Residences.
“If you had told me only a few years ago that South Congress was going to transform into a place that could support brands like mine, I wouldn’t have believed you. You can feel the shift, and it’s exciting to be a part of it,” Armstrong said.
The Nak Armstrong flagship is located at 2900 South Congress Ave. Building 2 Suite 110 in Austin.
It is open Wednesday to Saturday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Monday to Tuesday by appointment.
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