Willys officially opened on Saturday, adding another 2,900 square feet of shoppable retail space to Midtown. The opening even garnered some attention outside of Michigan. "[Willys] might be Detroit's first multibrand concept boutique," the New York Times style magazine, T, breathlessly declared on Friday. "Is Detroit ready for this much fashion-forwardness?"
If fashion-forwardness means excitedly peeing oneself over terms like "multibrand concept boutique," than Detroit is (wonderfully) far behind. Willys has clothing, home goods, luggage, and other knick-knacks. There are multiple brands. Try not to faint, Detroit.
Previously, our big question was how well Willys could measure up against the beautiful interior of Shinola. Both are in separate parts of the same historic building: the former HQ of Willys Overland Motor Company. Shinola occupied a hanger-like factory space of soaring ceilings and skylights. Willys is in the former service bay. Without so much built-in charm, designers had to add more. It's the same challenge retailers face building out a space inside a shopping mall, where natural light isn't so plentiful.
To that end, Willys is a bit more like a typical retailer, with an abundance of can lighting focused on custom shelving full of merchandise. But no one will mistake Willys for a Banana Republic. You're still in a century-old service bay surrounded by weathered brick, exposed rafters, and items proudly emblazoned with DETROIT. If Willys truly is the city's first "multibrand concept boutique," it's certainly a good first effort.
· Willys Promises to Enhance Summer Shopping in Midtown [Curbed]
· Century-Old Factory Now Shinola's Mesmerizing New Space [Curbed]