“‘American Dream’ means that anything is possible,” said Ken Downing, the Chief Creative Director at American Dream – a fitting unofficial motto for the second largest mall in the United States.
Located just a stone’s throw away from Manhattan, in East Rutherford, NJ, American Dream is a fantastical place. A behemoth of a retail and entertainment complex, it contains 450 retail shops, 21 full-service restaurants, and more than 100 eateries, as well as an indoor NHL ice rink, an indoor ski slope, and a Sea Life Aquarium. And that’s not all! It also houses an indoor theme park Nickelodeon Universe, and the DreamWorks Water Park that’s open year round. The sheer size of American Dream almost defies the imagination – and it just got bigger! On September 17, 2021, American Dream launched its latest attraction: The Avenue, its brand new luxury retail wing.
Like everything else in American Dream, The Avenue is almost larger than life: it spans 300,000 square feet over two levels, not counting its very own, bespoke parking lot that offers valet parking. And, in keeping with the ethos of the rest of the mall, walking through the Avenue is like diving headfirst into a gigantic cornucopia of bright colors and bold design.
The first thing visitors might notice upon entering the Avenue are the beautifully bold murals that decorate the barricades covering the storefronts that are under construction. They will also surely notice the gigantic pots decorated with faces and housing enormous topiaries that are carefully scattered along the bright hallways. Created by the famous potter and NJ native Jonathan Adler, these eyecatching structures are meant to bring out the idea of art meeting spectacle, and spectacle meeting luxury. This theme is reflected throughout The Avenue’s interior decoration, which was also designed by Adler, from the large seats upholstered in velvet to the artworks to the high-fashion mannequins on display. By taking inspiration from classic styles such as art deco and 80s glamour, Adler was able to create a visually striking space that embodies a uniquely American sense of grandeur.
All of this makes The Avenue something akin to a visual paradise for photographers, influencers, and regular visitors alike. American Dream has “Instagram moments” that are areas specifically designed for social media photography scattered throughout its premises. But the Avenue takes it a step further, as all of it is, by design, an Instagram moment.
The visual splendor of The Avenue is ultimately all window-dressing for the storefronts that line the wing’s brightly lit hallways. The Avenue was conceived as the newest luxury shopping and dining destination, and eventually, most of the colorful murals that visitors now see will give way to some of the best-known high-end brands in the world. In fact, that is already happening. At the time of the ribbon-cutting ceremony in late September, there were only five stores open to the public, plus the high-end Italian restaurant, Carpaccio, on the second level. More stores have opened since then such as Anne Fontaine and Dolce&Gabbana, Johnny Was, Yves Saint Laurent, and Alexander Wang, and the famous French luxury goods manufacturer, Hermes. Mulberry and Tiffany&Co. will be opening up branches at The Avenue soon.
American Dream was designed to be a city within a city, offering everything from a Walgreens to a concert venue to a Hermes. Now, it has built its Fifth Avenue – rather literally, as this entire curated collection of world-renowned luxury brands was led by none other than Saks Fifth Avenue, the high-end department store chain most famous for its Midtown Manhattan location. The 110,000 square-foot Saks Fifth Avenue store is the crown jewel of The Avenue at American Dream. There, spread across both levels, you can find all the luxury wares and designer apparel one would expect from this brand, but also Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
The result is a general sense of extra: the Avenue is American Dream, but a little more extravagant, a little more luxurious, a little more grandiose. In sum, a little bit more.
“It is without a doubt the most incredible center in the world,” said Don Ghermezian, the CEO of American Dream at The Avenue’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, “and you are about to walk into the most incredible luxury retail environment in the world. We eat, live, and breathe the American Dream. It is our flagship and we are so excited. Welcome to The Avenue!”