By and  on February 9, 2010

NEW YORK — Hermès clearly isn’t worried the luxury customer might be cutting back.

In a big bet the wealthy will keep spending, the French luxury brand is doubling its presence on Madison Avenue with the opening of its first men’s-only store in the world. And this being Hermès, price is no object — the store’s offering ranges from signature Hermès silk ties to an Hermès baseball at $1,100 and glove at $8,500, to custom leather jackets with a starting price of $50,000.

“There’s no other place where a man can order exactly what he wants,” said Veronique Nichanian, artistic director for men’s ready-to-wear, who called the men’s store “a dream come true. The store is très cozy and chic.”

Patrick Thomas, chief executive officer of Hermès International, said the men’s business at the brand is actually stronger than most people realize. Hermès on Friday revealed 2009 sales for the fashion house rose 8.5 percent and the company raised its forecast for operating profit to 3 to 4 percent growth.

“Traditionally, our clientele has always been mixed,” Thomas said. “Today, in volume terms, we sell roughly as many objects to men as we do to women, but in terms of sales, the split is closer to one-third for men and two-thirds for women, because a tie is roughly half the price of a silk scarf.”

From the Greek-key frieze that surrounds the entryway to the small Hermès rouge tiles embedded in the marble floor, the French luxury house was meticulous in the creation of the men’s-only store.

Hermès Man, located in a townhouse at Madison Avenue and 62nd Street in New York, is directly across the street from the company’s decade-old Manhattan flagship. It will have its debut tonight at a party for more than 500 before opening to the public on Wednesday.

The store spans four floors and provides shoppers with an intimate yet comfortable shopping experience designed to feel like a walk-in closet. It offers the full range of Hermès’ men’s wear products, including the company’s iconic neckwear and small leather goods, as well as tailored clothing, sportswear and an entire level devoted to custom apparel.

The men’s store has been two years in the making, according to Robert Chavez, president and ceo of Hermès of Paris Inc., and resulted from a phone call he received from a real estate agent. 

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