NEW YORK — Hermès is taking its luxury to a new neighborhood.
Today, the company will open a flagship on Broad Street near Wall Street that will offer everything from its famed saddles on which it was founded by Thierry Hermès in 1837 to brightly patterned bikinis designed by the house's creative director for women's ready-to-wear, Jean Paul Gaultier. In its first year, the 4,000-square-foot flagship is expected to generate sales of $20 million.
The company views its 10,600-square-foot Madison Avenue store as a maison, or house, replete with all the brand's product categories and a place for its patrons to congregate, view great art and have a café au lait. The firm's other maisons are in Paris, Tokyo and Seoul, which opened in November.
Being the first big luxury brand near Wall Street is a risk for a firm known to move slowly and methodically in both the production of its rarefied products and its strategic gambits. But it has been lauded by real estate executives, who see Lower Manhattan — and namely the Wall Street district — on the precipice of a huge retail boom.
Earlier this month, the Real Estate Board of New York bestowed the Hermès deal the award for the retail deal that Most Significantly Benefits Manhattan. This fall, Tiffany & Co. will open a 7,600-square-foot store at 37 Wall Street. Canali and Thomas Pink have also signed leases in the area.
"We really wanted to be at the forefront of the revitalization of Lower Manhattan," said Robert Chavez, president and chief executive officer of Hermès USA. "Also, there was no place to buy designer things down here. Did you ever walk into Century 21 at lunchtime? It was the only place to get a designer label, even if it is off-price."
The store has the same lush Mediterranean feel as the brand's Madison Avenue flagship, with a mosaic tile floor, Greek key motifs and frosted crystal lighting fixtures throughout.
"The center [of the store] is like a courtyard," said Rena Dumas, director of the Parisian architectural firm RDAI and the wife of Jean-Louis Dumas, Hermès' global ceo. "The departments communicate together, but they also have their privacy."Leather goods, including the Kelly and Birkin handbags, are at the nave of the store. At the front lies a prismatic display of men's silk ties — one special edition print limited to this store features bulls climbing on the front of the tie, with bears going down on the back.
There is a made-to-measure area for men offering suits and shirts in a variety of fabrics and silhouettes. The store also carries the company's first complete men's bag collection. Styles include a leather cross-body bag, a satchel for weekend and a $47,800 alligator briefcase.
Watches, including a $25,000 limited edition Cape Cod 1928 watch in rose gold with a havane crocodile strap, are located in the rear.
Mannequins are dispersed throughout, dressed in looks from traditional silk scarves worn as a bandeau top to a more discreet mock turtleneck sweater and a black pencil skirt accented with a horn link necklace. Women's rtw and shoes are at the opposite end of the store, showing everything from a sleek vicuna peacoat to boldly patterned caftans.
Home accessories, tabletop, gifts and some furniture, including a collapsible ebonized pear wood desk, decorate the far right corner of the store.
Group chairman Patrick Thomas said that while the firm on the whole gives equal attention to all categories, among those growing the fastest are silk ties and scarves, as well as tableware.
"We are by origin craftsmen of harnesses and saddles," said Thomas. "What we are trying to pursue in each of our métiers is authentic product, products that have a real meaning and real usage for the customer. Hermès is not a luxury house or a fashion house. We make creative products."
The brand will fete the boutique's opening with a party tonight where, after checking out the space, guests will be invited to an undisclosed location decorated like an 18th-century stable from Versailles, France, for a performance by French horsemen.
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