Brookfield Place, the luxury mall in what was once called the World Financial Center, finally has its full complement of anchor stores as Saks Fifth Avenue opened its Men's Store last Thursday, joining the Women's Store that debuted in the complex last fall. Like its female counterpart, the one-level store does not attempt to replicate the men's offerings of the chain's massive Fifth Avenue flagship. While in years past, a separate men's store in the Financial District would have focused strongly on suits and classic haberdashery, not unlike the Barneys New York branch (that chain's first) which anchored the building's retail section when it was originally unveiled in the 1980s. This time, there are sneakers.
Of course, they are designer sneakers, but this Saks is going for the post-suit shopper with a lot of cash. With such limited space, tailored clothing is not totally ignored. There is a distinct section devoted to chain's mostly middle-of-the-road private label collection, but the excitement is a few steps away with a multi-brand department featuring more adventurous fashion. Saks has taken advantage of the store's relatively isolated location to offer several designer labels, like Dries van Noten, Thom Browne and Balmain, to name a few, not usually found uptown where the competition is closer and designers try to avoid blanket distribution. This leads us into a shoe section that is proportionally huge in relation to the size of the entire store. The selection proves that the craze for exorbitantly priced designer sneakers has not yet crested, but, for the moment, more traditional dress shoes still round out the offerings. As int he rest of the store, the emphasis is on the high end which puts it in line with the Women's Store's focus on directional international designers over bread-and-butter brands like Ralph Lauren or St. John.
Whether both stores will thrive in a not yet proven location where they are somewhat hidden from the main shopping concourse without prominent storefront exposure is still an open question. The mall seems to have steady traffic, at least on a weekday with well-paid workers ensconced in offices upstairs for a captive customer base, and between the Oculus stores, Brookfield Place, food destinations like Eataly and Le District and the stores to come in buildings that are yet to be completed, the Financial District may be making good on its promise to become a shopping destination for more than just tourists.
Saks Fifth Avenue Men's Store 250 Vesey Street, Brookfield Place, Financial District