It's official now. There is no shoe department that is too big or too extensive for New York. Saks Fifth Avenue's 10022-SHOE department opened just a couple of years ago on the store's entire eighth floor to much fanfare, and now it is already being further expanded with another coup for the flagship: Louis Vuitton's first in-store shoe salon. The Peter Marino designed department will open this September on the Fifth Avenue side of the floor, and is expected to be the first of many such installations in other stores that contain Vuitton shops (Hello Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, start clearing some space). Like the other two Vuitton shops in Saks for accessories and women's apparel, the shop will be directly operated by the brand itself, as it does for all of its in-store shops.
Vuitton is on something of an in-store shop expansion kick itself at the moment with a new boutique in Macy's in the works as part of that store's immense renovation of the famous Herald Square flagship. Visitors to Bloomingdale's main floor will notice that a big chunk of the men's department along the store's Third Avenue wall has been closed off for another Vuitton department that is under construction —presumably a separate men's accessories shop.
As for Saks, it also signals an increasing hospitality for the kind of leased in-store shop arrangement that forced Prada's women's apparel and accessories out of Barneys last year. Gucci recently took over much its selling space in Saks, and several other accessory departments on the main floor such as Dior and Fendi (and, presumably now, Prada) are also vendor-operated. Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman, traditionally have rejected such arrangements as an infringement on the stores' merchandising integrity, and given the option, have both chosen not to carry or drop brands like Vuitton that insist on such arrangements. It will be interesting to see how that affects the future distribution of luxury megabrands in the city, especially with Nordstrom on the way, looking for major labels to compete with.