By  on September 15, 2008

NEW YORK — Barneys New York is creating a made-to-measure mecca at its Madison Avenue flagship.

In a move that “reflects the changes in the business,” the luxury specialty store will today unveil a 1,100-square-foot suite on its seventh floor comprised of four rooms that are designed to capitalize on the explosive growth of this tailored clothing category.

In the short term, sales are expected to increase 10 to 15 percent, and 5 to 10 percent a year after that, projected Tom Kalenderian, executive vice-president and GMM of men’s. “But that doesn’t factor in the extra business,” he noted. “The physical boutique will attract more attention.”

Kalenderian said the floor hadn’t been renovated since the store opened in September of 1993. “We’re redeploying the space to fit the needs of the business as it has matured. We’re dedicating a significant amount of square footage to customized clothing.”

Noting that this is “an area where no ready-to-wear will hang,” Kalenderian said this is “very new” for Barneys. “In the past, we would do made-to-measure at a desk within rtw,” he said. “But now there will be four independent spaces that are connected but not designed as one room.”

The first “and most important,” he said, is the “library,” where customers can sit at a desk and sift through fabric choices “in a quiet, contained setting. It’s not behind closed doors; there’s a glass wall, so it’s private but you can still see in.”

Next up is a lounge where friends and family can relax while the shopper is making his choices. This is followed by the dressing chambers, which are “more private and discreet; near the lounge but away from the traffic on the floor.”

Last up is the home of the master tailor and head fitter. “He’s right on the other side of the wall,” Kalenderian said.

“Everything works in concert to create the best shopping experience for the customer,” he said. “It’s really about customer service. It was a big decision to take square footage away from ready-to-wear. But this new step will enhance the customized clothing business.”

Kalenderian believes the new suite will appeal to the existing made-to-measure customer and attract a new one as well. “The men who already shop there will spend more time because they’ll be less distracted and can concentrate. And other customers who walk by the suite will be intrigued and want to come in.”

Kalenderian said that when the store opened, there were three floors of tailored clothing. The fourth centered on contemporary lines, while the sixth focused on traditional vendors and the seventh offered luxury clothing.

But in 2002 the store revamped the offering, compressing clothing onto two floors—with contemporary and classic lines on six and luxury brands on seven. The fourth floor was converted to contemporary sportswear.

“We needed more square footage for contemporary sportswear, so we consolidated tailored clothing into fewer brands,” he said. “But the editing of the business and resources actually allowed it to grow, so it was a positive process.”

The made-to-measure suite will offer fabric books from Battistoni, Brioni, Canali, Zegna, Incotex, Isaia, Kiton and Lanvin 15 Faubourg.

“This is just what the business needs,” Kalenderian said. “It’s important to be doing something different in an area that is viewed as classic. That doesn’t mean that it also can’t be modern.”

He pointed out that in addition to the made-to-measure suite, the entire seventh floor is being renovated. That revamp of the part of the floor that includes Amani Collezioni, Battistoni, Canali, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Zegna, Isaia and Paul Smith is expected to be completed by the end of this week.

Kalenderian pointed out that by capturing some unused space on the floor, the 5,500 square feet devoted to rtw has been retained. “It’s all part of the continued evolution of the building.”

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