Bergdorf Goodman's New 57th Street Entrance Is Unveiled
—But Not Finished

We have been actively following the progress of Bergdorf Goodman's current exterior renovations partly because we are interested and partly because we happen to have walked by the place a lot in the past few weeks. Today, we noticed that the last remnants of the plywood covering has been removed from

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the newly remodeled 57th Street side of the store including a new entrance into the store's re-conceived jewelry salon. The store has faithfully replicated the 58th Street (pictured at left) entrance on the other side of the store to create a grander entryway (pictured above in the best shot we could get over Midtown traffic). While the 58th Street door is technically the store's front entrance dating back to the building's completion in the late 1920s, more customers tend to enter through the more heavily trafficked 57th Street and Fifth Avenue doors, so it makes practical sense to upgrade the entryway. Despite the completed construction being exposed, it is clearly not totally finished and ready for its close-up just yet. The wrought iron railing at the window above the door and new awnings over the reconfigured windows have yet to be installed, but what has been revealed seems to answer one questions. The new, pristine white marble visible between the windows and on the new entryway appears not to be decorative, but a practical measure. We now can safely presume that the new stone will ultimately be toned to match the color of the building's original facing to create a seamless effect once the finishing touches are applied. As we have noted before, how all of this remodeling will affect the building's chances at being named a City Landmark remains to be seen, but by the end of this year, by which time a final designation is expected to be made, the building will look substantially different from when it was initially proposed for Landmark status.

Extended Transformation: Bergdorf Goodman's 58th Street Side Is Getting Redesigned, Too 


Bergdorf Goodman's New 57th Street Façade is Coming Into Focus

The reveal of Bergdorf Goodman's new 57th Street storefront is happening at a very protracted pace, but recently part of the redesign has been revealed (pictured above), and it looks even more different than we expected. The new Jewelry Salon which spurred the renovation has been open for weeks, but the unveiling won't be complete until the exterior is fully visible.
While the design of the new jewelry display windows is rendered on the plywood scaffolding covering the construction area (pictured below), the three actual windows that have been uncovered show details that aren't necessarily evident on the two-dimensional preview. Unlike on the rest of the store, the outer borders of the new windows are a contrasting gray stone rather than metal creating a more varied look on this side of the store than we were anticipating. Lighter gray marble surrounds the actual windows whose frames are made of beveled glass tiles, another material not found elsewhere on the building which should create a striking effect once the display lights are activated. The design echoes the faceted display cases inside the store. The biggest surprise is the expanse of white marble between the windows, an element that is not depicted on the rendering which suggests a more seamless looking update. What has yet to be revealed, and appears to be under wraps for a while longer, is the redesigned entryway meant to replicate the store's front door on 58th Street along with the Juliet balcony above it. Once it has been revealed and the lighting fixtures and new awnings are installed, we will have the full picture of the store's new 57th Street face. The only other thing that remains to be seen is how the dramatic alteration to the building will affect the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission's decision regarding the entire building. Last week, it was selected among a series of buildings put on a fast track to be considered for city landmark designation. Neither Bergdorf's nor the building's owner are in favor of the designation, which would disallow any further alterations. The costly new construction shows that two of the building's three street facing exterior walls have now been substantially changed from their original with stylistic elements that are not strictly in keeping with the period architecture of the building. That could potentially disqualify it as a historical landmark. It may be months before we learn the commission's final decision, but hopefully it will be only a few more weeks before we see the rest of the new storefront.

Frozen In Time: Bergdorf Goodman's Building On A Fast Track For Landmarking



Zegna Will Take Its Flagship To The Crown Building

Crownbuilding4It was only about eight years ago that Ermenegildo Zegna debuted a lavish Fifth Avenue flagship store of the sort that one would expect it would remain in for quite a while, but the NY Post is reporting that the Italian menswear megabrand is already heading to The Crown Building at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue to open a new 9,000 square feet for a new brand palace at one of the most expensive intersections in the world. If, as one might presume, the company had a 10-year lease at 663 Fifth Avenue, its current home, then it should be ready to move uptown at about the time its current lease runs out. While the retail space is being reconfigured, much of the office space upstairs will be converted into a combination of luxury hotel and condominiums.
Zegna's space is reported to include 1,500 square feet the ground floor and 7,500 square feet on the second floors of the building with an entrance on West 57th Street. Bulgari, the longtime corner tenant, has recently renegotiated its lease for a reduced 3,000 square footprint. It looks like Zegna will take over part of Bulgari's former space combined with Smythson's former store next door at the street level. What the new store will look like will be for us to anticipate, but given the splashy address and its current glamorous digs, it seems fair to expect a major statement.

Gildo Zegna gets luxurious flagship store inside Crown Building (NYPost)


Saks Off 5th Opens In Midtown Next Month With A Gilt Boutique Inside

While some shoppers are counting down the last few days before Chelsea's new Barneys opens, others are keeping their eyes on Midtown where an opening date has been set for New York City's first Saks Off 5th location. Eyebrows were raised when it was announced only a few months ago that the luxury department store's outlet chain would open right in the middle of full-price territory on East 57th Street, a mere seven blocks uptown from the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship at 50th and Fifth. Now we have learned that not only will the store will open on Thursday March 3rd, but it will contain the first of what is expected to be several in-store Gilt boutiques in Off 5th locations (rendering pictured above). WWD reports that the 1,000-square-foot boutique will be situated at the landing of the first escalator in the two-level, 47,333-square-foot underground store. The shop will include "Gilt by Appointment" services and will mirror the sites online events. New merchandise that is released online at 12 noon will also be unveiled at the store just in time for lunch-hour shopping. Off 5th will also accept returns of online purchases in the store but is not yet ready to facilitate in-store pick-up of online purchases.
The new shop is one of the results of Saks parent company The Hudson's Bay Company's recent purchase of Gilt. While Off 5th and the online retailer will begin to be marketed in tandem, they will continue to maintain separate buying and merchandising personnel to differentiate the more luxury minded site from the broader assortments at Off 5th. We will be able to see how well the new siblings play with each other in just over 3 weeks when the new store opens at 125 East 57th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. It's worth noting that in our rather extensive experience, off-price stores like this one tend to be packed with exceptionally good bargains at the grand opening, so first-day shopping is always recommended.

Gilt to Go Brick-and-Mortar on 57th Street (WWD)


TRNK Joins Bespoken For A Serene Holiday Shop

As any New Yorker knows, shopping in Midtown between Thanksgiving and New Years can be a trial. The combination of Holiday shoppers and high season tourists can make simply walking up Fifth Avenue a sidewalk-rage inducing experience. Of course, finding quieter, out of the way places to shop can be its own challenge, but the curated men's lifestyle website TRNK and the sophisticated menswear label Bespoken have joined forces for a Holiday pop-up shop that will solve thee problems and make you never want to set foot into a department store again. . . at least for a while anyway.
Part of the reason why the shop is such a pleasure is that it is discreetly tucked away at the Bespoken showroom on the seventh floor of the East 57th Street building that houses its related brand, Turnbull & Asser (Bespoken co-founders Sammy and Liam Fayed's father Ali Al-Fayed has owned Turnbull & Asser for the past three decades or so). Discreetly but not inconveniently tucked away away from the bustle below, the showroom has been transformed by TRNK's co-founders Tariq Dixon and Nick Nemechek into a cozy lounge where everything is for sale combining the best gift picks from their Holiday offerings and the Bespoken line. That sleek walnut and brass bar cart can be yours for a mere $1,650, but not everything extends into the four-figure realm. There are cleverly designed desk accessories, wool throws, barware and even the rugs can be yours. Everything is skillfully chosen to complement the Bespoken clothes on display including sumptuous sweaters, knitted cashmere caps and a particularly appealing shirt in lofty brushed cotton with high-tech taped seams. The shop will be open to the public through Christmas and private appointments can scheduled by email or by phone. Of course, if you can't make it in, most of the merchandise can be purchased through the companies respective websites as well.

Bespoken x TRNK Holiday Pop-Up Shop through December 25th at 50 East 57th Street, 7th Floor, Midtown 646.684.3934

See a closer look at the shop after the jump

Continue reading "HOLIDAY OASIS:

TRNK Joins Bespoken For A Serene Holiday Shop" »


Saks Off 5th Coming To East 57th St.

Saksoff5th Honestly, we didn't plan to be spending so much time on Saks today, but news is news and the New York Post is reporting that Saks Off 5th, the chain's off-price division, has signed a lease to take over the former Daffy's space at 135 East 57th street between Park and Lexington Avenues. This is significant not only because it will be Saks' second Off 5th store in Manhattan, once considered off limits to the luxury department store's discount division, but because it comes perilously close to the midtown luxury shopping district on Fifth and Madison Avenues. In fact, the new store will only be about a 20 minute walk from the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship at 49th and Fifth and a mere two blocks from Bloomingdale's. Saks has already announced its first Off 5th Manhattan store opening next year at 1 Liberty Place in the Financial District.
While the Post has no confirmation on the specific size of the lease, it reports that the former Daffy's store was estimated at 60,000 square feet and the store is expected to open sometime next Spring. The three level space includes some street level selling area with most floor space on two concourse levels below. Landlord Charles S. Cohen reportedly held out for three years to sign a tenant that met his requirements which on the one hand demonstrates a tenacious resolve, but on the other, represents a growing problem in Manhattan and other cities where prominent, high priced retail spaces sit empty for months and years on end while landlords wait for deep pockets tenants which may never materialize, creating rent blighted stretches of storefronts in otherwise upscale and thriving neighborhoods.
Anyway, that's all the Saks news we have today. . . until something else pops up.

Off-price division of Saks to open new shop at pricey NYC digs (NYPost)


The Kent & Curwen Sale Is A Can't Miss For Erstwhile Simon Spurr Fans

Well it is turning out to be a bonanza of a sample sale week for stylish gentlemen of New York. We just heard about the KENT & CURWEN  sale a few days ago, and knowing that the British label just decided to abandon its revamp plans in favor of a completely new direction in collaboration with soccer legend David Beckham, we thought that this might be an interesting opportunity.
In fact, it's more like a fire sale.
For the past few seasons, Kent & Curwen has already been undergoing a revision under British born, New York based designer Simon Spurr, whose own much admired label collapsed after he was separated from it in 2012. Spurr's collections for Kent & Curwen showed him in fine form with all of his strengths as a designer on display; sleek tailoring, inventively engineered knitwear, and superlative outerwear. The brand and its owner were apparently so confident in his creative direction that they leased an expansive flagship boutique on Madison Avenue last year to show it off. The label found its way into Bloomingdale's and Sals Fifth Avenue, both stores who carried Spurr's label previously, and things seemed to be going well until, after barely a year in business, the Madison Avenue store quietly shuttered over the summer, and the label's Fall 2015 collection was mysteriously absent from any men's fashion week, only to be unveiled late in a muted presentation. It was not so much of a surprise, then, when the company announced its new Beckham partnership with great fanfare a couple of weeks ago indicating that Spurr had left the brand.
But back to the sale. We asked one of the Kent & Curwen staffers there if they were clearing out of the Spurr-designed product to make room for the new Beckham lines and she said that, in fact, the merchandise was actually meant to be stocked in the Madison Avenue store that no longer exists, so, for the most part, it is all Fall 2015 merchandise in classic Simon Spurr stye —and it is a all a bargain. We are talking $15 neckties and $60 sweaters —$90 for $500 - $600 cashmeres— and $1,500 suits for $395. We found boxes of soft cashmere scarves for $30 each. And there's tons of everything, including Leather outerwear for that retailed for up to $2,000 for a mere $395 —and few designers know their way around a leather jacket like Simon Spurr (a full price list is posted after the jump). There are stacks of dress shirts and racks of slim trousers, with more merchandise rolling in as we shopped.
The only drawback is that to enter the sale, one must go to Trump Tower.
Yes, that Trump Tower.
While we are loath to have anything to do with anything Trump or Trump-adjacent, it is worth braving the pink marble atrium. You will have to go through the attendant at the elevators just to the left of the building's Fifth Avenue entrance, and visitors will be personally escorted up to the 14th floor by a doorman, which, all things considered, is a perfectly reasonable security precaution at the moment. The sale is in a raw, recently gutted space that is divided into a small first room with casual items and accessories, and a larger back room full of tailored clothing, outerwear, shirts, ties and more of everything. Apparently the sale had been going on since this past Monday before we internet folk got wind of it, and it will continue on weekdays only through Friday the 9th, assuming that there is enough merchandise to keep it going. Even if you aren't a Simon Spurr fan, it is still a great opportunity to refresh you fall wardrobe with some smart, sophisticated clothes at a fraction of their retail price tags. Don't dawdle.

As usual, all details can be found in our SALE ROLL at left which is worth keeping an eye on these days as unexpected sales have been popping up all over the place.

See a price list after the jump

Continue reading "SAMPLE SALE UPDATE:

The Kent & Curwen Sale Is A Can't Miss For Erstwhile Simon Spurr Fans" »


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


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)