Somerset Collection Studio to Open in Downtown Detroit, Focus on ‘Retailtainment’

The Somerset Collection in Troy today announced it plans to open the Somerset Collection Studio this winter in the historic Metropolitan Building in downtown Detroit. The studio, which could open as soon as Dec. 1, will be located in a 1,500-square-foot space on the first floor of the Metropolitan Building (33 John R St.).
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Metropolitan Building
The Somerset Collection in Troy is opening the Somerset Collection Studio this winter in the historic Metropolitan Building in Detroit. // File photo

The Somerset Collection in Troy today announced it plans to open the Somerset Collection Studio this winter in the historic Metropolitan Building in downtown Detroit. The studio, which could open as soon as Dec. 1, will be located in a 1,500-square-foot space on the first floor of the Metropolitan Building (33 John R St.).

Forbes Co. in Southfield, which owns and manages the Somerset Collection in Troy, will bring its 180-plus retailers, experiences, and concierge services to the innovative retail space at the newly-reopened Metropolitan. The New Gothic-style structure, which was built in 1925 and served as a central jewelry destination for thousands of Detroiters, today includes a 110-room Element Detroit Hotel, upcoming shops, and the rooftop cocktail lounge The Monarch Club.

The arrival of the Somerset Collection Studio represents the culmination of a nine-year dedication to reintroducing global retail brands and one-of-a-kind shopping experiences in downtown Detroit. The space, located just right of the main entrance, includes a small mezzanine, while a neighboring alley it shares with the Siren Hotel will be activated with a series of seasonal events and activities.

Nathan Forbes, managing partner of Forbes Co., says the studio will be a disruptor in the traditional inline retail experience. Designed at an urban scale and for the city lifestyle, the retail concept will give downtown residents, workers, and visitors access to Somerset Collection’s retail offerings, concierge personal styling, and brand experiences.

“Committed to pushing the industry forward, we recognized an opportunity to reinvent our space as a studio or a gallery designed to celebrate retail in a new way,” says Forbes. “We are inviting guests to experience something that they can only get by coming for a visit; a gallery filled with apparel worn at the Met Gala, life-sized cars made of LEGO (most likely leading up to and during the 2020 North American International Auto Show), or a room filled with everything in shades of blue. It’s not just retail, it’s ‘retailtainment’.”

“Somerset Collection Studio is the future of retail, and we are introducing it in Detroit, a city built on innovation,” Forbes adds.

The store will feature:

  • Rotating Brand Displays – Guests will constantly be immersed in new retail activations when they visit the store — whether one luxury brand takes over the space for a month or several global designers are curated for a seasonal-themed presentation. The brand displays will at times be a selection of merchandise found at Somerset Collection, or trunk shows brought to Michigan exclusive at Somerset Collection Studio.
  • Locker Delivery – Customers can shop from any of Somerset Collection’s 180-plus retailers and have their items brought to a locker at the downtown store that can be accessed by a texted code.
  • Personal Styling – A personal stylist will be available to consult with guests and develop a closet of looks customized to their style. The personal stylists will also have a profile for their customers to help with their every need, from a curated closet of merchandise, to remembering gifts for work holidays to friends’ birthdays.
  • Vending Now – A designer vending machine filled with rotating merchandise — everything from phone gadgets to jewelry and fragrances.

Forbes says the company made the commitment to bring a permanent concept store to Detroit after nine years of market research and its dedication to piloting retail concepts downtown that have inspired and attracted national retail brands to the city center.

The Somerset Collection’s first presence in the downtown district was in 2010 with “CityLoft,” a retail pop-up in the center of the city. In the intervening years, Somerset Collection activated 11 vacant storefronts with the CityLoft concept, as well shops and experiences including The Handmade Company, Santa’s Wonderland and the Snowman Collection, Woodward Beer Hall, and Downtown Detroit Days, among several others.

“The Somerset Collection Studio concept did not happen overnight. We’ve spent a decade immersed in the downtown retail market through partnerships, pop-up activations, and focus groups to understand the needs of the community, whether a resident, worker, or visitor,” says Forbes. “We are honored to have engaged deeply with Detroiters to bring to the city a concept like no other, in a city like no other.”

The Forbes Co. also brought its popular Detroit Shoppe to downtown Detroit. The store first opened in 2010 at Somerset Collection as a 3-D billboard for the city, celebrating Detroit’s iconic people, places, and products, with all proceeds supporting local charities.

In the last nine years, The Detroit Shoppe has donated more than $3 million to charitable causes throughout the region. In 2011, Somerset Collection brought The Detroit Shoppe downtown and activated several locations, including its current home at The David Whitney Building, where it is has been open for three years.

In essence, the Somerset Collection Studio will bring 1.4 million square feet of retail merchants into a 1,500 square foot space, with floor-to-ceiling display windows and entryways from John R St., inside The Metropolitan’s lobby, and to a fully activated alley. The sophisticated space with terrazzo floors, drapes, digital display walls, and movable display cases is designed to be able to transform into the brand of the designer or a theme, from a Tiffany blue box to a winter wonderland.

Somerset Collection Studio will be the first retail store in The Metropolitan Building, which had been vacant for 40 years. The contractor is Sachse Construction in Detroit.

“Think of the space as a retail capsule, where you come in and are immersed in a unique space,” Forbes says. “For example, Louis Vuitton recently opened a pop-up store in Chicago’s South Loop district (from June to July) that was all orange. It paid homage to menswear artistic director Virgil Abhol and his men’s fall/winter collection. It was a way to shout to the world that they’re more than just a retail store.

“We will bring that same energy and excitement to downtown Detroit, and with the best retailers the world has to offer. You will have access to brands that are unique and unexpected. It will be like a theater of retail that’s always changing, and is always engaging. It’s what I refer to as a micro-burst experience.”

The 14-story Metropolitan reopened in December 2018, after a $34 million redevelopment was completed by Metropolitan Hotel Partners, a joint venture between Detroit developers Roxbury Group and Means Group.

“We are pleased and honored that the Forbes Co. has chosen the Metropolitan as Somerset’s home in downtown Detroit,” says Stacy Fox, principal of the Roxbury Group. “Apart from the remarkable offerings that the Somerset Collection Studio will bring to our visitors and guests, we are thrilled to see a shopping experience of this caliber return to a building so strongly associated with fine retailing by generations of Detroiters.”

The Somerset Collection is located on the corner of Big Beaver Road and Coolidge in Troy. A 700-foot long glass-enclosed moving skywalk spans Big Beaver connecting Somerset North with Somerset South. Anchored by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macy’s, the Somerset Collection is home to more than 180 stores and restaurants. Information about the center or store-specific events, as well as store hours, can be found at thesomersetcollection.com.

The Forbes Co. is a nationally recognized owner, developer, and manager of iconic regional shopping centers, known throughout their respective markets for their retail innovation, fashion leadership, distinctive architecture, and luxury appointments. In addition to Somerset Collection, the Forbes Co. portfolio includes three Florida centers — The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens, The Mall at Millenia in Orlando, and Waterside Shops in Naples.

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