NEW YORK — With a flurry of designer shop openings, Bloomingdale's flagship here has completed the overhaul of its bridge floor, which has been renamed The New View and is the prototype for the chain.
It's a spacious environment, marked by shallow, easy-to-navigate designer shops and a more luxurious ambience than standard bridge departments. The ceiling has been raised one and a half feet, and there are three wide aisles — instead of the previous single central aisle — providing unobstructed views from the Lexington Avenue to Third Avenue sides of the store.
The enlarged fitting rooms seem like sitting rooms or lounges, and the cream tones, marble floors, chandeliers and inlaid carpets add to the richness.
This is the first time Bloomingdale's has recreated an entire floor in one stretch. Previously, floors were renovated piecemeal. The project, which took 40 weeks to complete, will be unveiled Thursday.
"It's a clean Bloomingdale's point of view," Michael Gould, chairman and chief executive officer, said on a tour of the 60,000-square-foot third floor. "We can create a floor that contains the Bloomingdale's DNA and let our resources have their DNA, in an environment we think is very unique."
Just opened are DKNY, Lilly Pulitzer, Sutton Studio, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Dana Buchman and a petite area that includes Eileen Fisher, Ellen Tracy and Anne Klein. The first half of the floor opened last August, with Ralph Lauren Black Label, Anne Klein New York, Christopher Fischer, cK Calvin Klein, David Meister, Eileen Fisher, Jon, Magaschoni, St. John Sport, Weekend Max Mara and White + Warren.
Among the 33 locations that make up the $2 billion Bloomingdale's chain, units on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Century City in Los Angeles and in Boca Raton, Fla., already have installed departments for The New View. By September 2006, bridge areas in units in the King of Prussia, Pa., Short Hills, N.J., and White Plains, N.Y., will be converted to The New View. Eventually, all Bloomingdale's stores will transform their bridge areas.
Bloomingdale's is also planning four new stores, in San Francisco, Costa Mesa and San Diego, Calif., and in Chestnut Hill, Mass. All will include New Views.In each shop, designers incorporate their signature decorative touches, but the areas are framed in either black glass or black wood, and are generally about four fixtures deep.
"Generally, I don't like [shops] to be more than 20 to 21 feet deep," said Shan DiNapoli, vice president of store design. "When they get deeper than that, they become a sea of fixtures. Twenty to 21 feet — I think that's the perfect dimension for a shop. It allows you to have a nice back perimeter wall, floor fixtures and customer seating. Anything deeper and it gets just full of floor fixtures."
The floor is also marked by the unexpected presence of some labels not typically housed in bridge areas, including Ralph Lauren Black Label, Moschino Cheap and Chic, Burberry and Lilly Pulitzer. Dresses are housed on the floor, but that category at Bloomingdale's has been trading up with additions such as Carmen Marc Valvo and Vera Wang.
Bloomingdale's third floor generates about $2,000 in sales per square foot. It is the second-highest-volume apparel area in the store after contemporary, which is about 50 percent more productive, according to industry sources. Total volume for Bloomingdale's bridge business is an estimated $150 million, the sources said.
"The bridge business was getting old and boring," said Frank Doroff, senior executive vice president and general merchandise manager of women's ready-to-wear. But to enliven and differentiate the area, "we decided to add luxury and some better brands, like Lauren Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein."
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