Express executives avoid the term “flagship,” though if there ever was a store that fit the bill, it’s the new Express in Times Square.
It’s the largest and splashiest in the chain, with a towering LED screen on the exterior, a glass-enclosed chandeliered room for dresses, mobile point of sale, marbled checkout counters and tall, tubular glass vitrines to display the short flared tulle skirts, flirty floral dresses and NYC graphic T-shirts, often vigorously promoted with deals.
“It’s Express on steroids,” said Michael Weiss, the chairman and chief executive officer of the 632-unit, $2 billion-plus chain. “This is an elevated, finer looking store where the homes for each category are much more defined. Our billboard, with 9,000 square feet of LED, is the biggest and highest-definition billboard in the whole of Times Square. You know nobody whispers in Times Square.”
With the Express expansion, “We are going after not so much flagship locations — there are so few we would call flagships. We are going after ‘hub’ locations, and currently looking at 25 to 30 where we want to be super strong and super competitive, where the mall [or the neighborhood] demands it and has become a hub for wonderful retailers all giving it their best shot.”
The Times Square store, located in the landmark, marble-framed I. Miller Building distinguished by statues of actresses Ethel Barrymore, Marilyn Miller, Mary Pickford and Rosa Ponselle, will have a grand opening in late March. The “soft” opening was last Thursday. The store has three levels and 22,500 square feet of selling space, compared with the vast majority of Express units, which are one-level and 8,000 square feet. Other Express ‘hub’ stores have opened in Miami’s Dadeland mall, the Fashion Show mall in Las Vegas and on Union Square in San Francisco, but Times Square is the latest incarnation of a prototype introduced at the King of Prussia mall outside Philadelphia more than two years ago. Stores on Fifth Avenue and 18th Street and Madison Avenue at 51st Street also exhibit elements of the format.
“I don’t think it’s about having flagship locations, it’s about having a dominant presence in key locations to help elevate and build the brand,” said David Kornberg, president of Express. “The Times Square store is important, considering the large international tourist traffic it will get and the ‘Express’ desire to become more global.” Currently, Express has just 41 stores outside the U.S., in Canada, the Middle East, South America, Central America and Mexico. Express is also thinking more omni, rather than brick and mortar, as Weiss noted. “We came late to the game in e-commerce, five or six years ago, but we are catching up.”
According to Kornberg, Times Square is planned to be “the number-one store in the chain” in terms of volume, but he would not provide the sales projection. Kornberg underscored how effective the store is at demarcating the major categories or zones: party/going-out clothes, wear-to-work, jeans and casual. In the last few years, shoes, fragrances, loungewear and watches have been added to the assortment, and active and yoga wear is being tested in about 30 locations. However, the party component, Kornberg said, “is really the essence of the brand.”
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion