Go Behind The Scenes Of Bergdorf Goodman's Spectacular "Crimson Peak" Windows

It's pretty rare for a premier luxury store like Bergdorf Goodman to participate in something as commercial as a promotional movie tie in, but director Guillermo del Toro's "Crimson Peak" has proved to be a welcome exception. Billed as a gothic romance, the film's lavish production design has been an inspiration to the store's visual team, a group that has demonstrated time and again that no concept is too complicated or ornate for them to take on. While the folks at Bergdorf's haven't yet posted crisp photos on the store's blog 5th at 58th, they have released a behind-the-scenes video (embedded above) that shows the team creating and constructing the film's takeover of the Fifth Avenue windows in all of their macabre splendor. The movie opens this Friday, but you have all week to stop by Bergdorf's to check out another in a series of spectacular windows.

Click HERE for a slideshow of the full windows plus many production stills form the film that provided inspiration.


Victoria's Secret Will Put A Flagship Where Forever 21 Skipped Out

The rumors around 640 Fifth Avenue have been swirling for a while. At one point, it was firmly  believed that Niketown would move in after H&M vacated the home of its first U.S. store and its Trump Tower lease on East 57th Street ran out, but we discovered last January that trend driven teen budget chain Forever 21 was to be the next tenant.
Until a few weeks ago.
We aren't sure if it was never meant to be a permanent store but Forever 21 beat a swift retreat from pricey Fifth Avenue last month, leaving a major retail space up for grabs, until lingerie mega-chain Victoria's Secret stepped in to take over the 63,780 square foot store. They won't be hawking bras and panties an the corner of 51st and Fifth right away. The new store is not expected to open until November of 2016, which will give the company plenty of time to transform the space and presumably festoon a remodeled interior in its signature shades of pink.

Victoria’s Secret opening flagship at Vornado’s 640 Fifth (The Real Deal)


Saks Fifth Avenue Announces Its Latest Flagship Makeover Plan

SFAflagshipAt this point, several announcements about major renovations for the enormous Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store have come and gone with little actual activity, often because top management has changed faster than they have been able to implement the ever more elaborate and expensive renewal projects. The most recent one came earlier this year when then president Marigay McKee presented plans which included a series of bi-level designer lifestyle boutiques that would ring the main floor and extend up to the second level creating what we could only imagine to be a construction nightmare that wouldn't actually solve the store's pressing merchandising problems. McKee's noisy but brief tenure as Saks president ended shortly after that announcement, and the plans were apparently scuttled.
Today, WWD reports that current Saks President Mark Metrick has announced a new 3-year $250 million renovation plan that is even more radical, shuffling floors and adding a lower concourse level and even a dramatic new elevator. Ordinarily we would simply sigh and say, "We'll believe it when we see it," but now that Saks appears to have settled more comfortably as a division of Canada's Hudson's Bay Company, we have a feeling that this plan, or at least parts of it, will stick. Here are some of the main points of what will ultimately be a startling shakeup of every floor in the store.

Handbags and Accessories will take over the entire main floor.
One of Saks' longtime merchandising struggles on Fifth Avenue has been an epic fight for space on the main floor of the original building between cosmetics and handbags. Despite the enormous amount of floor space, there has never been enough room for retail's two most profitable categories to coexist peacefully there along with jewelry, and it would appear that cosmetics has won, taking over almost all of the floor space, and pushing accessories to a series of in-store shops around the store's perimeter and an undersized multi-brand handbag section crammed into the escalator atrium. This forced handbag customers to not only shop in a cumbersome ring around the huge main floor, but also to have to contend with aggressive makeup reps while buying purses.
In a reversal, Accessories have now gained the upper hand, and will not only take over the front of the main floor, but also the Swiss Tower sections behind the escalators currently occupied by jewelry. That department will be divided between the new concourse level downstairs to be called "The Vault" for precious gems and watches and part of the tower section of the second floor which presumably will house semiprecious baubles. It's a big change that will not only make it easier to sell those high-margin accessories, but should also mollify some important luxury brands without their own in-store shops who could not have been happy with the puny accessory area around the escalator atrium. This means that...

Cosmetics will move to the second floor.
Competitors Bergdorf's and Barneys have previously solved space problems by creating expansive makeup deportments in luxuriously renovated basements, but Saks will twist that scheme by moving it upstairs instead for 53% more space. The second floor at Saks is currently dedicated to more separates-oriented women's designer collections (they used to call it Designer Sportswear), but the section in the front of the store hasn't seen a major renovation since the 1970s, which is when the dramatic wooden superstructure you see there now was installed. Presumably, it will finally be cleared out. How will Saks keep what must be one of the biggest cosmetics departments in the world humming without the main floor foot traffic? A new glass elevator with a 23-foot staircase spiraling around it as well as an additional escalator will be installed in the center of the main floor to ferry customers up to two and down to the new jewelry concourse. Having cosmetics on two will trade the main floor's hectic —and extremely loud— ambiance for a more relaxing environment that will encourage customers to buy more. It will also save store visitors from having to brave battalions of fragrance models on their way to the upper floors, which is a win for everybody

Women's apparel will shrink from four to three floors.
With cosmetics moving up, women's wear will lose an entire floor, but the entire women's departments are being re-imagined. No longer to be stratified by price between the second and fifth floors, women's departments will now be arranged by lifestyle, with varying price points and different designer collections on every floor between 3 and 5. In addition, a new department call "The Ballroom" will be created on the 9th floor devoted only to eveningwear including shoes, handbags and jewelry. Bridal will also be included on the floor as well.

While Men's will remain on 6 and 7, it too will be rearranged with more of a lifestyle point of view, and other departments will be tweaked and moved around. The plan is one of the most elaborate store renovation plans we have seen, but, assuming it is fully carried out, it will give Saks some long overdue changes and updates. Don't get too anxious to see the results, however. It is not projected to be completed until 2018. In the meantime, there will be much construction disrupting the store, but when it is finished, it should result in a state-of-the-art ready to do battle just as fierce competitor Nordstrom sails into town.

Master Plan for the Saks Flagship Breaks Convention (WWD)


& Other Stories To Join COS On Fifth Avenue For A Late October Opening

As an example of how the bewildering PR system at H&M sometimes works, let us remember about six weeks ago when it was officially announced that the popular contemporary chain COS would be opening its second U.S. store on Fifth Avenue in part of the space on the northeast corner of 42nd Street that had been quietly abandoned by H&M, its parent company. What would take the rest of the space, we all wondered?
Well, no official announcement appears to have been made other than big sign in the window telling us that the other budding chain from H&M, & Other Stories, will be joining its sister for its second store in New York —and the entire U.S, for that matter.
We won't have to wait too long for the trendy chain's expansion. What must be a pretty firm opening date of October 30th is clearly included in the window, which makes this scenario a striking mirror of the stores' arrivals in SoHo when the more sophisticated COS was the first to be announced, but lagged months behind & Other Stories in actually opening to the public. On Fifth Avenue, COS is still "opening soon" which could mean this Fall, Christmastime, next Spring or just when they are damn good and ready.
We aren't complaining. We'll take more COS anytime whenever they want to give it to us, but now we know for sure that both of H&M's up and coming nameplates are on the road to expansion in New York and beyond. If the new stores are as well received in Midtown as they have been in SoHo, you can bet that there will be more of both coming your way soon.

Flagship Flash: COS To Open On Fifth Avenue In Former 42nd Street H&M


COS To Open On Fifth Avenue In Former 42nd Street H&M

COSlookbookWhen H&M's sizable store at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue quietly closed several months ago, the speculation began as the Swedish chain maintained the lease and sources suggested that it would be converted to a new format.
Would it be COS or & Other Stories? One of the two H&M owned chains that debuted in SoHo a year or so ago was bound to be replicated uptown, and now it looks like COS will definitely be opening in the space sometime before the end of 2015.
And maybe the other one too?
The catch is that COS will only be taking 3,982 square feet of selling space, a fraction of the size of the former 2-level H&M store. Even with extra space for stock and back offices, that leaves plenty of room for another store, suggesting that & Other Stories could still expand uptown and take up residence next to its more elegant sibling, unless the rest of the space was subleased out which is another possibility.
In any event, New York shoppers will likely be thrilled to find another COS location. Even though 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue is heavy tourist company, COS has been a huge hit in the city, and the SoHo store is regularly packed with customers snapping up the brand's sophisticated yet well-priced collections. The upcoming store is part of a major expansion for the still relatively young chain. COS announced a major global expansion yesterday that included 5 more North American stores in addition to the Fifth Avenue unit. Look for the COS craze to only get bigger as the Fifth Avenue countdown begins.

Note: we originally misquoted the square footage of the upcoming COS store as 3,357 square feet. It has now been confirmed to us as 3,982 square feet.


Apple To Take Over FAO Schwarz Space During Flagship Renovation

The Apple Store pictured above will temporarily move into the building behind the cube later this year.

While we don't yet know what will ultimately become of the FAO Schwarz retail space in the GM Building after the iconic toy store moves out on July 15th, we now know that the next immediate tenant will be the Apple Store which is reportedly taking over the place while its main flagship store underneath the plaza in front of the building undergoes an extensive renovation. The news was disclosed by Apple retail chief, senior vice president Angela Ahrendts to the Associated Press in an interview promoting the company's newest outlet set to open tomorrow on Madison Avenue. Though that new store will contain the company's signature minimalist wooden tables and fixtures, the building around it is reported to be a meticulous restoration of the former U.S. Mortgage & Trust building which will include chandeliers re-produced from vintage photographs and the original vault converted into a private shopping area —fitting for the store located in the neighborhood most conducive for selling the pricey golden AppleWatch Edition.
But back to Fifth Avenue. The famous store with the "cube" is included among the roughly 20 U.S. Apple Stores set for major renovation as they have outgrown their spaces since the introduction of the iPhone and other new products that have transformed the company's offerings. Exactly when the Fifth Avenue store's renovation will begin or how long it will take is unclear, though it is likely to start as soon as the FAO Schwarz space can be converted to Apple's temporary requirements. When that happens, the GM Building's Fifth Avenue retail spaces will be entirely devoted to temporary stores with Cartier on the northern corner, waiting for its own flagship a few blocks downtown to finish its extensive revamp, and Apple on the southern side. While the famous "cube" entrance is expected to remain, it sounds like the rest of the store will be dramatically updated. Whether or not the temporary store will maintain the flagship's 24-hour schedule is also unknown at the moment, but Apple is uniquely fortunate to be able to take over a large high profile location only steps away so it can continue doing business at it's highest volume retail outlet without any interruption.

In With The Old: Apple Restores Former Bank For New Store (AP)


FAO Schwarz Officially Closing In July

FAOSchwarzOfficialWe have been hearing about FAO Schwarz's departure from its longtime home in the GM Building on Fifth Avenue for months, years even, but now we have a more definitive date —and it's practically upon us. Bloomberg Business is reporting that the renowned toy store will be shuttering its iconic store sometime in July, well in advance of the end of its lease in 2017 leaving the company without a physical store as it searches for a new flagship. Toys "R" Us Inc,  which owns FAO Schwarz, promises that a new store should be open by late 2016, which leaves a long stretch for the company to be without an outlet. Recent rumors have had the company eyeing a large Apple Store-like space in the Paramount Building at 1633 Broadway between 50th and 51st Streets that is best known as the former home of space-age theme restaurant Mars 2112. The building itself is configured similarly to the GM Building with a front plaza and situated just above tourist friendly Times Square which would make the proposed FAO Schwarz store an appropriate replacement for the immense Toys "R" Us store that is also set to depart its home a few blocks downtown.
So far, the only thing that is confirmed is the Fifth Avenue store's impending closure, though a replacement site should be determined so. As for the expansive space in the GM building to be vacated, most speculation has it being subdivided to create a few separate retail spaces, although a big store with deep pockets could come along and take the whole thing. With Apple in front, and a temporary Cartier store on the other side that may become permanent, it will become one of the highest profile unclaimed retail sites in midtown.

FAO Schwarz’s Manhattan Store to Close in July as Rents Rise (BloombergBusiness)


Bonobos Biggest Store Is Coming To Lower Fifth Avenue This Summer

BonobosImageAt some point, the city will thaw out, the disgusting, weeks-old slabs of snow on the side streets will melt away and it will be summer at which point, New Yorkers will discover a huge new Bonobos store on Fifth Avenue and 17th Street. The New York Post is reporting that the fit-obsessed menswear brand has signed on for 4,000 square feet at 95 Fifth Avenue for a new store expected to open in June, which would suggest that it is taking over the Kenneth Cole store that has made its home there for several years.
This will be the label's third New York "Guideshop" including its first showroom at the company headquarters nearby on 25th Street, and its more public Crosby Street outpost, but at 4,000 square feet, it will be a dramatically bigger flagship than any of the other 14 stores it runs. Typically, a Bonobos guideshop carries almost no merchandise to sell in person, but plenty of sizes and stock for customers to try on and order, a concept that stems from the brand's beginnings as a resource offering several different trouser models to insure a perfect fit. It's a counter-intuitive way to run a retail store —more of a showroom, really. The brand's success over the past few years has allowed the company to expand into more varied product categories, and, as Bonobos CEO and founder Andy Dunn tells the Post, “This Fifth Avenue Guideshop is our first real flagship. This will really expose our customer to the breadth of assortment we have [in] tailored clothing, shirts, suits, outerwear.” In fact, suit and shirts have now eclipsed the famous pants in the company's product offerings, and, with a store about four times the size of its usual ones, one wonders if Bonobos may finally give in and stock the store with cash and carry merchandise —especially since it will be cheek by jowl with J.Crew, Banana Republic and a host of other clothing stores on one of Manhattan's busiest retail corridors. Even though Summer seems like it will never happen, June is only a mere three months away, so we will find out soon if this flagship will show that Bonobos is ready to open a more traditional retail store.

Bonobos plans to open Flatiron flagship store (NYPost)


Diesel's Midtown Plans Seem To Include Staying On Fifth Avenue

Last week, news of Diesel's freshly signed retail lease at 625 Madison Avenue coupled with the closure of its Fifth Avenue flagship led many of us to assume that the denim giant was ditching the city's most desirable retail address for an only slightly less desirable one on Madison Avenue. Well, a stroll up Fifth earlier today revealed that while the Diesel flagship is indeed closed and under plywood, it appears to be undergoing an extensive renovation. Again, it is surprising to see such a dramatic alteration after only six years, but less so that abandoning the space altogether after such a short time. Signage (above) clearly states that the store is under construction, but still one of Diesel's.
As for 625 Madison Avenue (below), the reported 4,400 square feet seemed a little bit cramped to fit a flagship, which leads us to another speculation: that the new space might be devoted to the brand's upscale collection, Diesel Black Gold, which currently has a location in SoHo. While it has been around for a while, the Black Gold line has gained some real traction in the past few seasons now that creative direction has been assumed by Andreas Melbostad formerly of the late and much lamented PHI. A Madison Avenue location would be much more appropriate for the more exclusive runway collection, and the whole arrangement generally makes a lot more sense. As with all unconfirmed speculation, the store could be for something else entirely (childrens?) or for another brand owned by Diesel owner Renzo Rosso's Only The Brave holding company, but our money's on Black Gold, for now.

Flagship Flash: Diesel Flagship Trading Fifth Avenue For Home On Madison


Forever 21 Fifth Avenue Opens Tomorrow With Little Change From Previous Tenant

Though the doors are actually open right now, Forever 21's new Fifth Avenue flagship officially opens tomorrow. Today's visitors will discover a store that is not quite ready with the top floor still closed to customers and plenty of frantic staffers buzzing about making placing merchandise and making other arrangements for tomorrow's opening. The will also see all the changes that the chain has made to the space from it's previous tenant H&M, which are basically none.
Aside from a coat of paint, the space is still indistinguishable from when it was Forever 21's fast fashion rival, right down to the men's section on the second floor. You might not even notice that the store changed at all from the outside. The reported five floors were obviously something of an exaggeration unless there is some hidden construction happening on the floors above. The layout is basically unchanged. It's not terribly surprising. The home of impossibly cheap trendy sportswear is not known for its extravagances. After all, they have to maintain those slender margins.
Even so, the chain will throw a party tomorrow morning  to fête its prestigious new address tomorrow morning with a giveaways, hot chocolate, snacks, gift cards and tote bags for the first 500 people to line up in front of the store after 7:30 AM. At 9 AM, Pop Sensation Cody Simpson will cut the ribbon and perform no more or less than three songs at 9:45 for what is fairly likely to be an audience of screaming teenagers.
Proceed with caution.
After the showbiz excitement has faded, there will be a nail spa, photo booth, "festive" food and screen printing of limited edition tote bags for those F21 fans who must be there on the very first day.

Speculation Surprise: H&M's Former Fifth Avenue Flagship Going To Forever 21 —Not Nike