By  on September 17, 2009

LONDON — Harrods’ men’s wear department just got some attitude.

In a long-awaited 9 million pound, or $15 million at current exchange, overhaul, Harrods is putting the finishing touches on 50,000 square feet of men’s wear space over two floors.

Gone are the endless racks of navy blue and black suits, and the unextraordinary shelves of shirts, ties and varied accessories.

Now the ground level, with its multiple street entrances, showcases brands’ lifestyle boutiques, and the basement houses spaces by designers including Tom Ford, Paul Smith and Etro, as well as contemporary designer casualwear.

It is the first time in 15 years the ground floor has been refurbished, and the first time since 1974 — the year of its founding — that the contemporary men’s area has been spiffed up.

“We started with the idea of a gentlemen’s club, and we wanted to make a statement that we are a premium, luxury environment, catering to an international customer,” said Jason Broderick, Harrods’ head of men’s wear buying, referring to the ground floor.

Brands there include Prada, Brioni, Loro Piana, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, Dunhill and Louis Vuitton. Each was asked to create a lifestyle boutique within the department, which features new chocolate brown marble floors and matching leather-paneled walls.

The brands are also offering exclusive, limited edition products to mark the launch, with Prada selling a nylon and Saffiano textured leather bag with a crocodile handle for 1,280 pounds, or $2,125. Dunhill is marketing cuff links made with bits of 4,000-year-old mammoth tusks for 799 pounds, or $1,326.

Broderick, who declined to give sales projections for the new department, said one of the reasons behind the decision to swap racks of suits for lifestyle boutiques was a change in shopping habits among men.

“Men are shopping more like women,” he said. “They like to add and mix and match and put an outfit together. And they are taking authority for the way they dress.”

Broderick added recessionary times also have changed men’s sartorial attitudes, noting they are increasingly opting to swap their ties for polo shirts. Since the economic crisis hit, “polo shirt sales have been shooting through the roof,” he said.

On the basement level, Tom Ford has a shop-in-shop, and is selling an exclusive dégradé crocodile bag for 15,000 pounds, or $25,000. In addition to the designer spaces, the basement also features the Harrods By Appointment personal shopping service and a contemporary casual area, where the inspiration is “Lear Jet interior,” Broderick said. Brands include D&G, Rag & Bone, Burberry Brit, Acne, Belstaff, Boss Black and McQ.

Charvet shirts and Hermès ties also will have their respective areas in on the basement level.

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