Bloomingdale's subway entrance is functional again, today, but instead of opening into the plus-sized (sorry Women's sized) department the sub basement at 59th & Lexington has been turned into a new home for men's contemporary sportswear and denim with a new name, "No. 59 Metro".
Plus sizes Women's has been kicked upstairs, which is probably fine for its customers who often complained about being banished to a dungeon-like department in the bowels of the store. That dungeon has been totally gutted and opened up to house an ever proliferating roster of denim brands and the casual separates that go with them. It also currently holds an abundance of new, eager, sometimes over-eager sales associates as well as a team of spritz girls who really, really want you to try the new Diesel fragrance. That particular detail reminded us of the old Bloomingdale's where crossing from the men's section on the main floor to the cosmetics department (or B'way to use correct terminology) meant passing through a corridor filled with fragrance models calling out for your attention. We used to call it "running the stinkwater gauntlet", and it was about as much fun as it sounds. That was the sort of unpleasant experience Bloomingdale's has been working to eliminate over the last few years, mostly successfully. The new Metro Level (call it anything but the basement, pleeease) is only the first phase in a total overhaul of the entire men's department, and so far they seem to have gotten it right. It actually reminded us of the fabled store's '70s and '80s heyday when the department was called "Saturday's
Generation" (They just love making up those department names at that place). A live deejay was installed for the opening, and many of the design elements appear to have been inspired by the success of their SoHo store, with more open space, new shops for Diesel and G-Star, and, best of all, a vastly expanded casual shoe and sneaker section freed from its previous, easily missed location hidden behind the suit department. Overall, it's a vast improvement (spritz girls aside) which will probably look better in a few weeks as they receive fuller deliveries from key vendors like Trovata and Vince.
Next up: renovations of the men's contemporary and designer sportswear and tailored clothing floors above, and what we will be most pleased to see , a redesign of the store's generally ugly Third Avenue façade.