NEW YORK — After more than a year of planning, Bloomingdale's has taken the wraps off the revamped tailored clothing department at its 59th Street flagship.
The redo of the area, one of the anchors of the department store's highly profitable men's store, is expected to result in significant sales gains for the holiday season.
"Tailored clothing has been our best-performing division," revealed David Fisher, executive vice-president and GMM of men's, in a walk-through last week. "Our goal is realistic in light of what's going on out there right now, but we have a double-digit plan for this area for the fourth quarter. And we expect the momentum to build through 2009."
In February, Bloomingdale's completed the first phase in a series of renovations of the flagship's three-level, 90,000-square-foot men's store with the addition of No. 59 Metro, a premium denim and contemporary sportswear department on the subway level. The reinvented clothing department marks the completion of phase two and the company will now turn its attention to adding a series of lifestyle shops adjacent to the new clothing area on the mid-level. Although the vendor lineup hasn't been finalized, a new Polo shop with an entrance to the outside will be part of the mix, along with new shops for Moncler, PS Paul Smith, John Varvatos and Burberry. The Lab concepts of more-advanced labels will also be located here and will include Acne, Junya Watanabe, Woolrich Woolen Mills and Our Legacy. The renovation of the lifestyle and Polo areas is slated to be completed by February with the total men's department revamp expected to be finished by next Father's Day. "We'll keep working through the holidays and just shift things around," Fisher said.
But the focus for now is on tailored clothing.
Fisher boasted: "This puts us on par with every world-class men's store in the country. We started talking about this over a year ago and the merchants and I drew out where we wanted everything to be. The customer flow now is incredible."
One of the new additions here is a boutique for Ralph Lauren Black Label, a fairly new member of the Bloomingdale's family. "We started with Black Label last year and it has really turned into something special for us," Fisher said. "It has lifted the whole Ralph Lauren business." Polo Ralph Lauren is the store's largest vendor, "followed closely by Hugo Boss, Theory and some of the denim people," he noted.
Across the aisle is a new Hugo Boss area with four separate "quadrants" for Black, Red, Orange and Selection, the latter of which is the company's most pricey offering. The former Hugo Boss space will be home to the new Polo shop.
Next up is the new Armani Collezioni shop. Bathed in "sexy light," Fisher said, "it doesn't look like a refrigerator anymore.
"This is going to really take off for us. It looks as much like Giorgio Armani in Milan as any shop I've ever seen."
Also included are new shops for Canali and Corneliani, offering "lifestyle approaches to the business" by incorporating sportswear, dress furnishings and accessories as complements to the suits. Corneliani is a new addition at the 59th Street store, as is Valentino, which is being merchandised inside of a cube.
"We have high hopes for it," Fisher said of Valentino.
Behind the cube are areas for Burberry, Joseph Abboud and other brands, and a new formalwear shop. "This is the first time we've designated an area for black tie," he said. Other labels with separate signage in the department include Z Zegna, D&G and Aquascutum. "They came back in a very strong way," Fisher said of Aquascutum, which is new to the department this season. "It has a fabulous name and a fabulous fit."
One of the largest statements on the floor is the shoe department, which has been significantly expanded. "This is one of the biggest opportunities we have," Fisher said. "We went up to 40 chairs from 13 or 14 and we have the biggest Ferragamo presence in the city." The Ferragamo shop, which offers ready-to-wear and accessories in addition to shoes, is "very shallow, but very impressive," Fisher said, pointing to the narrow boutique that lines one of the walls.
A Zegna Sport shop, designed by Peter Marino, is expected to be completed sometime in December, replacing the temporary boutique housed in that space now.
One of the jewels of the new store is the "bespoke room"‹a private area with luxurious fitting rooms where customers can sit down with a specialist and pick from among several swatch boxes. The At His Service private shopping department has also been expanded and offers four personal shoppers and a conference room for private wardrobing events.
The clothing area gets a perk-up through the use of videos and "moments of haberdashery" vignettes around the floor.
To make shopping easier, dress shirts and ties are also being merchandised on this floor and include "bridge" vendors shirts such as Hugo Boss, Z Zegna and other similarly priced products. "We're also breaking it out by trends," added Kevin Harter, Bloomingdale's men's fashion director, "such as white-collar shirts."
On the main floor, furnishings are being cut back, Fisher said, leaving only "the very best designer brands." A Turnbull & Asser shop, the only one in New York City, will be built, and housed near Paul Smith, Giorgio Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, Canali and a Porsche design shop.
Some 30 events are planned over the next two months to introduce the floor to customers, Harter said.
In order to stay current, Fisher said, Bloomingdale's is updating No. 59 Metro by adding more "young, contemporary sportswear" vendors and more of a lifestyle approach to the area. "Sportswear is still very good, but not quite as good as clothing, and jeans have slowed down a little," Fisher said. "We're looking for a new direction in denim‹maybe that's black denim instead of blue jeans, or five-pocket jean-cut pants in a worsted fabric. We're trying a lot of things."
Harter added: "We want to keep mixing things up. With the way retailing is now, you have to keep changing all the time."
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