Saks Fifth Avenue is close to finalizing a $200 million to $250 million renovation program for the Manhattan flagship as it strives to catch up to the competition.
According to sources, Saks will transform the main level to a bigger and more powerful cosmetics presentation, extending the category further east through the bulk of the floor. Saks’ cosmetics floor is already among the most popular and productive in the city, with sources saying only the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s flagships with larger cosmetic floors generate more volume. Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have completed dramatic overhauls of their own beauty floors, with Macy’s finished last fall and Bloomingdale’s a few years ago.
Under the renovation plan, Saks would leave room for about four major luxury and designer handbag shops on the main floor, which would be built as duplexes, similar in some respects to presentations seen in stores in Europe, and more recently at Macy’s Herald Square, which has Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Longchamp and Burberry forming a luxury wing on the Broadway side of the store.
The balance of handbags and jewelry at Saks would move to the second floor, where designer sportswear is located and could be consolidated. “Making the second floor a productive space for handbags could be a home run,” said one source familiar with the Saks flagship. Upper floors, including eight and nine, will also be transformed.
Physical changes at the Saks flagship are necessary to take it to the next level of business. Accessories and jewelry on the main floor are cramped and underspaced, and there are brands that Saks would like to start selling.
A Saks spokeswoman declined to comment on the upcoming changes at the flagship, other than saying the renovation plan is “a work in progress.” Today, parent HBC is set to disclose fourth-quarter results and could discuss plans for Saks.
In recent years, Saks has tweaked its cosmetics and fragrance space, including putting in new Chanel areas. With the chain’s acquisition by HBC, led by its chairman Richard Baker, and Baker’s recruitment of Marigay McKee from Harrods as Saks’ new president, there’s an emerging master vision for the flagship and the rest of the chain. Sources have speculated that the ground floor at Saks could be redone by sometime in 2015.
One former luxury executive suggested enlarging the beauty floor could have consequences for Saks and its strategy to elevate the luxury appeal. “Trying to have the largest cosmetic business in New York to compete against Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s could create an environment that’s frenetic. I would question whether that’s really what you want if you want to be seen as luxury retail. When Barneys and Bergdorf’s both elected to put beauty on the lower level, it created a sense of differentiation and, with the space that opened up on other floors, gave them more of a luxury ambiance.”
“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