By  on November 12, 2007

NEW YORK — Brooks Brothers' new format has arrived on Manhattan's West Side in a 9,300-square-foot store overlooking Lincoln Center.

The two-level site at Broadway and 65th Street features the retailer's latest interior design and displays, but still oozes tradition. There is mahogany paneling throughout, along with chandeliers, antique bronze vitrines, silk chaises and commemorative posters from the archives depicting the original store that operated in the South Street Seaport. And, of course, there are posters of the four bearded Brooks brothers, the sons of founder Henry Sands Brooks.

The store is compartmentalized with wide arched entrances and vaulted ceilings forming rooms to delineate categories and provide an easy flow.

A small first floor houses men's furnishings under a rotunda that is a portal to the much larger second floor, which showcases men's and women's tailored clothing, formalwear, sportswear, outerwear, pajamas, cashmere sweaters, accessories and shoes. The design is a break from other Brook Bros. units that typically have large main floors.

"There are a lot of experimental aspects to this store," said Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and chief executive officer of the 189-year-old chain. "For us, it's very important to test second-level traffic. As you know, New York rent is going through the roof," so a store with a small main floor and larger second floor would be less costly than vice versa. "But we are a brand that does well with multilevel stores. This is an opportunity to communicate that to landlords and the press. We will see how productive we can be in that kind of space."

Del Vecchio expects the unit to generate significant volume — $9 million in annual sales in a couple of years, or about $1,000 a square foot. Luxury apartment buildings are going up in the area and "it's bringing in the kind of customers that seem to be very close to our target," he said.

The store could open doors to other locations in Manhattan if it meets expectations. The Broadway store is only the fourth Brooks Bros. in the borough. Although no additional units are slated, things could change.

"The Upper East Side and Chelsea [neighborhoods] are no-brainers," Del Vecchio said.The 210-unit chain has been averaging 12 to 15 new stores each year. Brooks Bros.' other Manhattan units, on Madison and 44th Street, Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street, and on Liberty Street in lower Manhattan, are all larger than the West Side store, which opened Friday.

Twenty-five percent of the selling space is devoted to women's, which this season features a white, gray and cream theme and is most noticeable in outerwear, including wool coats priced at $598, shearlings with signature gold buttons for $1,498 and mink-collar wool jackets with silk linings for $798.

There is also a strong tweed and tartan presence in sportswear and accessories, for a Connecticut, country-inspired look, including Saxon wool sweaters for $198.

"Women's is doing well, particularly knitwear and shirts, but the whole category is growing," Del Vecchio noted.

In the last three years, Brooks Bros. has opened several stores with the same interior design as seen on Broadway, though in locations such as London, Milan, Paris and Edinburgh.

"We're testing different concepts," with stores and merchandise, Del Vecchio said. For example, the Country Club sportswear concept in resort locales is progressing. "We opened our seventh location in Sarasota [Fla.] last week," Del Vecchio said. Some Country Club sportswear is sold in the full-line stores, too.

Del Vecchio also talked about shirt and tie shops as more of a replenishment concept that might be a spin-off of Broadway's first floor. "If these edited concepts are appropriate to the setting, they can do very well."

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