Gill, one of the world’s leading marine apparel brands, is opening its first fully owned and operated store in Newport, Rhode Island. After 45 years of trading, the British brand has chosen to create their first dedicated retail space in the heart of one of the sailing capitals of the world and the home of yachting on the East Coast.
The 2,000 square foot space at 364b Thames Street has been refurbished to welcome sailors and adventurers into a contemporary and modern environment to discover Gill’s full range displayed at its best, from offshore racing to marine sport and lifestyle clothing and accessories. Providing performance, protection, comfort and style for any outdoor activity, from sailing to paddle sports.
Gill’s CEO Jamie Tunnicliffe noted, “Opening our first ever store is an important milestone in our growth strategy and our ambitions for the brand in the United States. I can’t think of a better home for our first retail space than Newport, and this will serve as a blueprint to develop further stores in the coming years, both in the USA and our key markets worldwide such as the UK and Germany.
“We’d always planned to open a store much sooner in Newport, but the last few years with the pandemic have been very challenging for all retailers. However, we’re encouraged by the positive changes we are seeing in the industry, the opportunities we’ve identified in the US and the passionate reaction to our latest products from customers. Creating branded experiential stores will allow us to really showcase our full range, help us grow our direct sales and deliver on our ambitious growth plans for the brand.”
Gill engaged A4 Architecture to design their flagship US store, who developed a space that reflects the company’s technologic approach to apparel but also the longstanding heritage of the brand and the history and tradition of yachting in Newport. As President John F. Kennedy famously noted at an America’s Cup dinner held in Newport in 1962 “We have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.”
The building was once a ship’s chandlery and the floor is more than one hundred years-old, nailed with square hand cut nails. And to touch on that visceral excitement of sailing and adventures on the water, Gill created a video wall at the back of the store to draw people back the full depth of the space.
Commenting on the retail space, A4 architect Ross Cann concluded, “The store needs to be a place where the brand comes alive for the customer and where the staff can help explain and show the particular qualities of the merchandise that make it special and different from other products they can purchase online. To facilitate this education, we compartmentalized the store into bays, each of which can be dedicated to a specific family of products dedicated to certain activities, like Offshore racing, Day sailing or paddle sports.”
To celebrate and embrace the large boat shows and regattas hosted in Newport each year, the “back of house” of the store has been designed to work as a conference area for group meetings and product demonstrations.
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