By  on October 7, 2010

Saks Fifth Avenue is shining the spotlight on the growing men’s accessories business for fall.

The retailer has unveiled an updated presentation and expanded assortment on the sixth floor of its New York flagship, one that boasts the only Gucci, David Yurman and Scott Kay men’s accessories shops in a department store.

“We started working on this about a year ago,” said Tom Ott, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s wear for the retailer. “Our thought was to make this the most exciting place in the city for men to shop for accessories.”

The presentation is centered on “branded buildouts,” or distinct shops or cases for brands including Mont Blanc, Tod’s, Gucci, Ferragamo, Cartier, David Yurman and Scott Kay. The only stumbling block was that most did not have a separate “accessories aesthetic,” Ott said, requiring the retailer to work closely with the labels to create boutiques to showcase their merchandise.

At the same time, the lighting and the cases on the floor were updated to make it easier for customers to see the merchandise. “It seems like common sense, but we’ve really learned how to showcase accessories more effectively,” he said.

The mix is essentially the same, but the number of items from each brand has been increased. “We’ve really enhanced the watch assortment,” said Shawn Pean, men’s accessories buyer, pointing to Longines, TW Steel, TX, Tissot, Briel, Swiss Army and Phillip Watch, which is exclusive. High-voltage lighting helps show off the oversize dials and colorful offerings in the assortment.

The new accessories area was completed Friday and Louis Digiacomo, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of accessories, said large leather goods, such as briefcases from Ferragamo and Mont Blanc, were strong sellers right out of the box. “They did well over the weekend,” he said. Ott said briefcases are “one of our best performing categories. Men are now more concerned with having the right bag for different occasions.”

Ott said the Saks stores in Tysons Corner in Virginia, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills were the first to install updated accessories areas around two years ago, and the results were significant enough to warrant the investment in New York. “They were more in need of an overhaul,” Ott explained.

He said there was never any thought of installing the accessories presentation on the main floor in New York, however. “Men feel more comfortable shopping in a man’s environment,” he said. “So it was never a consideration.”

Although he declined to provide a volume projection or expected increase, he said: “We expect the growth will be significant. When you showcase a product category in this way and offer this lineup of brands, the increase will be terrific.”

The more contemporary seventh floor is also offering an enhanced accessories presentation, although it’s still “a work in progress,” Pean said, noting that the plan is to add branded shops here as well. Right now, the focus is on vendors such as Alexander McQueen, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Rag & Bone, Jack Spade, D&G and Paul Smith. “We’re going to make this a home for more-modern accessories,” Ott said, noting the “seventh floor customer is more of a shopper and reacts to this merchandise.” Ott said the plan is to roll out the concept to other Saks Fifth Avenue stores around the country and he is currently “reviewing a list” of possible stores.

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