Saks Fifth Avenue, which has been tiptoeing onto the international stage, took a big step Wednesday by opening its first store in Mexico.
The three-level, 150,000-square-foot unit in the upscale Santa Fe Shopping Center in Mexico City is a test to determine the potential for more stores in the country.
Saks described the unit as "congruent" with others in the luxury chain, in terms of product and service, and geared to cater to local tastes. Merchandise includes established and emerging designers and shop-in-shops for Salvatore Ferragamo, Kiehl's, Hermès and Giorgio Armani. The store also has restaurants and the Fifth Avenue Club for personal service.
If the concept resonates with consumers, Saks and Grupo Sanborns, which is licensed to own and operate Saks Fifth Avenue stores in Mexico, will develop more stores.
In addition, Saks has been eyeing Japan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Macau and India, among other locations. Saks is one of the few upscale department stores that is internationally recognized and transportable, largely because of its huge Fifth Avenue flagship in New York and key locations in portal cities such as Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles that attract tourists, including those from Latin America.
Saks has two licensed stores in the Middle East, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai. The company's first licensed store in China is scheduled to open in 2009. In the U.S. there are 54 Saks Fifth Avenue stores and 49 Saks Off 5th stores, as well as saks.com and the Club Libby Lu specialty shops.
Stephen Sadove, chairman and chief executive officer of Saks Inc., said international expansion is not a core strategy, though it's a good way to elevate the brand and broaden its reach, without taking too much risk.
"While our principal focus remains on improving the operations of our domestic stores, the opening of select international licensed locations can broaden the reach of our brand and produce a supplemental income stream for the company," Sadove said in a statement.
With licensed sites, Saks receives an up-front fee plus an additional annual amount based on a percentage of sales, though there's no equity involved and therefore less potential for the business to profit. Saks' international team, headed by vice president David Pilnick, is involved in site selection, merchandising and store design, but does not build or operate the overseas units."We believe that we will fill a void that currently exists in the Mexican market by catering to a discerning luxury customer,'' said Carlos Hajj, ceo of Grupo Sanborns.
Mexico-based Grupo Sanborns is a subsidiary of Grupo Carso, which controls and operates retail, industrial and consumer businesses. Within retailing, Grupo Carso operates Sanborns, Sanborns Café, Mixup music stores and Sears and Dorians department stores, as well as the Oakley, Mask, Pier 1, Sasch and Von Dutch specialty stores, among others. The company also owns and operates shopping centers in Mexico City.
Grupo Carso is controlled by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú, one of the wealthiest men in the world, and the largest individual shareholder of Saks. Helú and his family hold about 13.3 million Saks shares, or 8.7 percent of the total shares outstanding.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast