The operating rules of enormous department store chains have changed a lot in the past decade. Once relegated to the suburbs, outlet and clearance divisions have inched ever closer to major full-line shopping neighborhoods, with the latest example being a great big Nordstrom Rack store set to open in about a month at 855 Sixth Avenue at 31st Street, just a few blocks south of Macy's Herald Square and the sprawling collection of mall-stores that spill across the stretch of 34th street west of Fifth Avenue.
A glance at the windows pictured above tells us that the store will open its doors in about a month on October 26th, and if it looks like it will be pretty big with the entirety of the first two floors of the new building, consider that with the lower level as well, the store will total about 47,000 square feet over three floors. That makes it one of the larger Rack stores around, especially in a location like Manhattan where space is always at a premium.
It has been decades since a major out of town retailer has attempted to crack Manhattan's powerhouse ranks of home-grown retail palaces, but as once sterling names like Gimbel's, Bonwit Teller, B.Altman and Abraham & Straus have fallen over the years, there's a little more room for more competition now. JCPenney of Plano TX, has only managed to get in with an innocuous subterranean location taking up a mere fraction of the building that once housed the entirety of the mighty Gimbel's, but the pride and joy of Dallas, Neiman Marcus, is on its way with an unconventional store in a yet to be completed Hudson Yards tower. The big event on deck, however is Nordstrom's Columbus Circle flagship slated for 2019. The chain has managed to slyly whet New Yorkers' appetites first by taking on the suburbs surrounding the tri-state area where it is now a mainstay. Next, it made Manhattan safe for Department Stores' outlet divisions by opening a Rack unit where the Union Square Virgin Megastore once stood, paving the way for a Saks Off 5th appearing on tony East 57th Street, a once unthinkable location for such an establishment, only seven blocks north of its lavish full-price namesake. Before the splashy Nordstrom flagship debuts, however, its 3-level Men's Store will serve as an extended preview when it opens across Broadway this coming Spring. By the time the Mother ship opens its doors, Manhattanites should be chomping at the bit as if it is one of our own illustrious chains. As for the upcoming Rack, its sheer size suggests that it will be just like the Rack stores we have come to know, but bigger, which outlet shoppers know, is almost always better. By now we all know that most of what these stores carry is either overstock or merchandise made expressly for selling in "outlet" venues. That doesn't mean that they aren't worth your shopping dollars, and Nordstrom Rack at least makes the effort to specially tag items that have indeed come from their full-line stores. It's never a bad idea to catch the opening weeks of such a store either, as off-price chains have been known to pepper their opening offerings with particularly enticingly priced merchandise to ingratiate themselves with new customers. If you happen to have a reason to make your way through the Herald and Greely Square neighborhoods in about a month, you might find yourself making a habit of it.
It's been a rough road for the beloved downtown emporium Pearl River Mart which was forced out of its multi-level SoHo home (pictured right) with what so many city retailers continuer to face, a massive rent hike. It has been a few years since then, and while the company opened an outpost in Tribeca last fall, a new location in the Chelsea Market with a 15-year lease will receive the benefit of the kind of teeming shopping crowds it used to find regularly in SoHo when it opens later this year. The new store will be 3,500 square feet and along with the familiar mix of Asian products the store is promising special food events, performances and other cultural activities.
Anyone who hasn't visited Manhattan's original food hall will discover that over the summer it has grown by opening up a whole new floor downstairs, an while we don't yet know the specific location of the new store, there is a lot more space for new businesses in the building. According to DNAinfo, Pearl River Mart will be joining a new yet to be named farm-to-table restaurant with an adjacent furniture store from chef John Doherty of Tribeca's Black Barn restaurant and Mark Zeff of the apparently unrelated interior store BLACKBARN Shop. Both ventures are expected to open later this fall, so while the Meatpacking District a block or so south seems to be suffering from a lack of excitement, the Chelsea Market itself looks like it will continue to be a major draw in the neighborhood.
It's about that time of year when we discover the identity of the designer that H&M has anointed for a pre-Holiday Season publicity blitz, and this time it's Turkish-British-Canadian phenom Erdem Moralioglu (pictured below) whose label ERDEM will get the spotlight with a collaboration collection that will include his first designs for men. As an added bonus, Australian director Baz Luhrmann will be collaborating on the advertising and promotional materials including the evocative announcement video above.
Rather than chasing Instagram glitz or avant garde cachet as it has with the collaboration other years, H&M has chosen to go in a more elegant direction this November. Moralioglu has built a faithful customer base with classical silhouettes married to intricately printed and textured fabrics, often including exuberant floral prints that have succeeded in attracting a broad range of fans with a healthy dose of celebrity red-carpet support. He has quietly made his London-based company a burgeoning powerhouse that claims prized space in stores ranging from mainstream luxury players like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus to highly curated outlets like Dover Street Market. His brand is well positioned to maximize the exposure that the H&M collaboration can bring, though it will be interesting to see how he translates his label's hyper feminine fashion image to menswear. Of what we can expect from the collaboration, Erdem says, “The collection reinterprets some of the codes that have defined my work over the past decade. It’s also inspired by much of my youth, from the English films, 90s TV shows and music videos I grew up watching to memories of the style that defined members of my family. Taking from these inspirations, I imagined a group of characters and friends off to the English countryside for the weekend. There’s a real play in the collection between something decidedly dressed-up and equally effortless”. He also cites the cult-favorite Pet Shop Boys video for the song "Being Boring" directed by Bruce Weber as an inspiration. We have a few months before the first looks for the collection are revealed, but this one is shaping up to be an intriguing team-up for H&M.
There was one thing we were all certain of when the Nordstrom Flagship near Columbus Circle was announced: It was going to take a looooong time to build.
Initially announced as part of new wave of midtown skyscraper buildings, the upcoming store began to grow as it acquired space across the street at 3 Columbus Circle and then it was announced that adjacent buildings at 1776 Broadway and 5 Columbus Circle would be incorporated into the growing flagship including major restoration work on parts of the storefronts —which will probably make it take even longer. There's one part of the store, however, that shouldn't be hampered by complicated construction issues, and that's the Nordstrom Men's Store that is slated to open across the street. While the opening date of the main store has been pushed to 2019, new signage in the windows of the upcoming men's unit announces a Spring 2018 opening, a full year, at least, ahead of it mothership (pictured at right). Obviously, the advantage here is that the store will open in a building that has already been built, and like any good retailer, the chain wants to get this freestanding component open as soon as possible. This will make Nordstrom only the second major store in Manhattan to house its men's department in a completely separate building on another block since Bergdorf Goodman opened its Men's Store nearly 27 years ago at 58th Street and Fifth Avenue. It helps that Nordstrom has one of the most developed Men's businesses of all the higher-end specialty department store chains. It has long been said among menswear vendors that if Nordstrom is one of your clients, it is likely to be your largest, and over the past decade, the company has made great efforts to evolve its menswear offerings from traditional middle-of-the-road fare to a broader assortment including more international designers and directional labels. We will likely see more evolution in the new store as executives have already promised an extra-special presentation for New York. As the city's erstwhile men's tailored clothing champion, Barneys New York, has jettisoned all but the most luxurious tier of its men's suit offerings, there is an opportunity for Nordstrom to pick up some of that slack as the city is still home to substantial legal and financial industries where lots of men still need nice suits for work. Now, we can be fairly certain that there is less than a year to wait to see how Nordstrom will address New York's menswear market as well as to see the first glimpse of the massive upcoming flagship project.
The Shophound hasn't had a stroll down Madison Avenue in a few months, and what did we notice on Monday but a substantial swath of plate glass backed in the unmistakable logo of Balenciaga. It turns out that Manhattan did not really need three Gucci boutiques. As the new Alessandro Michele-era Gucci store opened in Brookfield Place, the Tom Ford/Frida Giannini version in the former Westbury Hotel was shut down in preparation to be ceded to its sister brand. Balenciaga has only ever had one New York store at a time, but its expansion to tony Madison Avenue and 69th Street is a signal that even directional "downtown" brands can benefit from uptown exposure. This will also be first U.S. store for Balenciaga under its still new creative director Demna Gvasalia. While the current, lavish SoHo flagship opened under the brief tenure of creative director Alexander Wang, it was planned under Nicolas Ghesqiuere, who spearheaded the once sleepy label back to prominence. This new shop is expected to have a radically different ambiance given Vêtements designer Gvesalia's more avant-garde point of view. The store is slated to open in June, and will be patterned after the Balenciaga boutique that recently opened in Paris which features a Warehouse style decor with industrial fixtures, foil covered ceilings, cast concrete walls and furniture upholstered in synthetic leather. It's a far cry from the dramatic marble floored opulence found in SoHo. In fact, it's almost as if the two stores will each have an interior more typically suited to the other one, with an elegant uptown ambiance in SoHo, and a downtown industrial look on Madison Avenue. Look for the new boutique's publicity blitz to begin in a couple of months as the store opens just in time to stock the pre-fall collection.
If Japan's largest retailer seems to be at a bit of an impasse on how to expand it's U.S. business, it remains committed to its strategy of bridging the exclusive designer world with the mass market. The announcement of this fall's designer collaboration at Uniqlo should please fashion fans, as J.W.Anderson's Jonathan Anderson (pictured at right) will be creating a special capsule collection for men and women exclusively for the chain. As designer for both his own label as well as the Spanish luxury leather goods label Loewe, Anderson has caught the attention of fashion insiders even if his public profile has yet to rise to superstar status. That doesn't matter as much to the chain, as it's collaboration with lesser known label Lemaire sold out anyway and led to an ongoing collection with Christophe Lemaire for the Uniqlo U label.
“When I think of Uniqlo, I think of things that are perfectly made, that people have spent a lot of time considering; it’s a difficult job, and I think Uniqlo does it very well,” said Anderson in a statement regarding the upcoming collection. “Working with Uniqlo is probably the most incredible template of democracy in fashion, and it’s nice that my design can be accessible to anyone, on all different levels.”
As of yet, we don't yet know if the exclusive line will extend beyond the fall season (Lemaire's initial collaboration spanned two seasons), but for now we can look forward to a potentially intriguing line from a designer whose aesthetic can range from classic to avant-garde, often in the same collection.
After leading a nomadic existence for the past several years, Fendi's residency in SoHo will finally become permanent when it moves into its mew location for the foreseeable future at 99 Greene Street. The fabled Roman luxury brand has taken out 6,000 square feet where it will be able to spread out and present its full offerings after occupying a series of pop-up along the same road. Joining Fendi will be Italian outer and casual wear brand Herno which has also taken space in the building. As far as we can tell, this will be Herno's first U.S. store, designed to raise the European brand's status in the U.S. from cult label to mainstay. Both stores are expected to debut sometime this spring, and they will join a host of tony brands on the block including Dior, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo among others.
The Meatpacking District may be entering its fourth phase (or fifth —who can keep track anymore?) as the most exclusive of luxury brands, Hermès, has announced its fourth New York City boutique will open at 46-48 Gansevoort Street (pictured above). The three level 10,000 square foot boutique will be only a short stroll away from the recently relocated Whitney Museum which may be beginning to live up to the expectations that it would revive the neighborhood as a destination for major shopping. While a decade ago, the neighborhood boasted Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Moschino boutiques, much of the neighborhood's luxury gloss faded when those stores moved either to SoHo or Madison Avenue. Last year's shuttering of upper contemporary chain Scoop NYC also drained some of the area's fashion juice as retail spaces gave way to less exclusive names like Levi's, Patagonia and UGG. Still, tony pioneer Jeffrey remains in place as other retailers have come and gone, and Diane Von Furstenberg is not likely to go anywhere anytime soon, so the neighborhood has not been given over completely to mall stores. It has become something of a destination, however for non-retail "brand experience" spaces like the Samsung 837 tech showplace and the upcoming "Intersect" from Lexus which will include a gallery and restaurant under the nameplate of an automaker. Well, at least it is a luxury automaker, which points to a renewed upscale direction for the areas with Hermès being the first full-on luxury player to enter the neighborhood since the relocation of the Whitney. Other upcoming arrivals will include the return of the sorely-missed Pastis restaurant which will be conveniently down the block in the former Gansevoort Market space. Area merchants are also looking to the eventual opening of the Restoration Hardware RH Gallery mega-store on Ninth Avenue to give the area a boost of retail excitement.
As for Hermès, the upcoming store is promised to be more casual than the Madison Avenue flagship and Wall Street units, and certainly larger than the Brookfield Place store which is mostly limited to fragrance and scarves. Plans include a rooftop terrace to attract both current and new customers, and impart a "downtown" ambiance to the store. Now we have to wait and see if the other luxury players who have sniffed around the Meatpacking District on and off over the past 15 years will follow Hermès and take the plunge themselves.
Say goodbye to the Armani Exchange at The Shops at Columbus Circle.
Later this year, that 4,000 square foot space on the third floor will be transformed into New York City's first permanent Amazon Bookstore. While you would probably need the entirety of Time Warner Center's retail space to display a full array of what Amazon offers online, the bookstore is expected to primarily serve to showcase the company's proprietary products like Kindle and Alexa, along with a curated selection of books. It will be more the size of the B.Dalton or Waldenbooks chain stores that some us remember, than the sprawling Borders that once existed only a few steps away. Whether or not Amazon aims to eventually repopulate some of the newly available retail space in malls all over the country remains to be seen, but the upcoming branch won't be the only one coming to the area. Amazon is also officially coming to Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. The two stores will be the seventh and eighth Amazon Bookstores that have been announced which makes the brick and mortar chain still a tiny offshoot of the online giant which currently has three stores open in San Diego, California, Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Now the question to be answered will be whether New Yorkers, who have become extremely comfortable ordering fast deliveries from Amazon wherever they might be themselves, will be interested in visiting an actual Amazon store.
Real estate in New York City is a pretty ruthless business. There are fights between developers and cummunity boards and local politicians all the time, but it is unusual for the opening of a 55,000 square foot retail flagship to have its grand opening legally halted just hours before the doors were to be unlocked. That, however is what has happened to the new Nike store that was to open last Friday on the corner of Broadway and Spring Street in SoHo.
In a feud pitting Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Community Board 2 and various other local officials against the Department of Buildings, the long awaited Nike store sits fully stocked and presumably staffed with its opening indefinitely postponed. The complaint concerns building regulations about the size of the store allowed in the space and the permits issued to redevelop 529 Broadway, the building that contains it. The protesters want Nike's certificate of occupancy recinded because, the company and the developer allegedly did not apply for the special permit required for stores over the 10,000 square foot limit imposed by the area's zoning rules. In addition, it is alleged that the DOB issued an alteration permit to build the building rather than demolition one. All of these discrepancies require greater public and oversight. Brewer and her cohorts allege that they were denied their rightful input by the DOB's arbitrary permit granting policies which allegedly favor developers over community input. Further arguments include details about party walls and how much of the original building on the site was retained that fall into the category of real estate arcana. The upshot is that Brewer and company have chosen the Nike Store to make their stand against the DOB. Now eager sneakerheads who were erroneously lined up outside the store on Friday morning will be waiting indefinitely until an agreement between all parties can be reached to grant Nike the temporary certificate of occupancy it needs to open its doors.
Brewer and company probably feel that a huge multibillion dollar corporation and presumably greedy developers are easy and suitably high-profile targets for their cause, but perhaps they shouldn't have waited until hours before the store was to open to throw a wrench into everyone's gears. The building has been under construction for years. Nike's plans for the store were also not a secret. Did they really need to wait until the last minute to protest improprieties? Now, there are not only eager customers waiting to shop at a major new store from one of America's most popular brands, but also a whole staff of workers for the multilevel store who expected that their jobs would start last Friday. It is not known how long Nike will be willing to pay managers, sales and stock staff for a store that is not being allowed to open and isn't selling anything. The company has already had to cancel at least one of the new product launches that bring customers streaming to their stores. Hopefully, the parties will be able to resolve their dispute in a timely manner. It seems unlikely Nike will actually have to pack up its big new store and find it another home, but now wonders if the city is really doing itself any favors by forcing it to sit idle right at the point it was ready to open.