NEW YORK — That green crocodile has crept onto Fifth Avenue and it means business.
Lacoste on Thursday officially opened a 3,400-square-foot store on the southwest corner Fifth and 49th Street, catercorner to Saks Fifth Avenue, as part of strategy to increase the label’s U.S. presence. With its colorful classic polos, sweeping curved white walls, and the neighorhood’s heavy traffic, Fifth Avenue could be the chain’s most productive unit. It’s replacing the smaller Lacoste shop on Madison Avenue between 54th and 55th Streets, which will close in a few months when its lease expires.
“We expect our Fifth Avenue store to have the same level of productivity, if not better,” said Robert Siegel, chairman of Lacoste USA. He said the Madison Avenue shop does $2,500 in sales per square foot. At that rate, the new Fifth Avenue store should hit $8.5 million in sales, at least. Lacoste stores are generally small, around 1,500 square feet each, yet highly productive, averaging $900 in sales per square foot.
Currently, the U.S. accounts for under 10 percent of Lacoste’s $900 million in total volume. But Lacoste, based in Paris, is expanding at a rate of about five stores a year in the U.S. Remaining openings this year will be in Chicago in early October, and San Francisco’s Union Square in late October. Units in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Scottsdale, Arizona already opened this year.
Next year, units are planned for Boston, the Americana Manhasset shopping center on Long Island, and three other locations to be determined. By the end of 2004, Lacoste expects to be operating 23 stores in the U.S.
According to Siegel, comp-store sales in the U.S. are tracking 23 percent ahead, driven by the brand’s younger, sexier appeal cultivated in the last couple of years, its array of vivid colors, superior quality, and a tightly-controlled distribution that gives the label an aura of exclusivity and keeps it in demand. Lacoste has been busy placing its products on Hollywood celebrities, such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalie Portman, the Hilton sisters and Matt Damon. Tighter fits of late add sex appeal, with Lycra providing some stretch. In addition, for warm months, the shirts are cut shorter to reveal midriff.Women’s has grown to 50 percent of the business, from 15 to 20 percent two years ago, and to show off the progress, Lacoste plans to stage its first fashion show Sept. 14 in Bryant Park during fashion week. It’s also sign that the Paris-based brand is taking the U.S. market more seriously.
Though generally the distribution is narrow, in New York the label is widely available, selling at Scoop, Searle, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Henri Bendel. Siegel contended that the Fifth Avenue store won’t cannibalize wholesale accounts, and will actually help them by providing increased exposure for the label.
The classic Lacoste polo is widely knocked off, though the real Lacoste remains distinctive with its craftsmanship. The collection is manufactured at Lacoste-owned factories in France and Peru, with shirt collars that lay flat, colors that don’t run, and with minimal shrinkage. The shirts are resin-dipped to seal in the color, reduce fading and reduce shrinking.
Lacoste also sets itself apart with its pricing. The label isn’t cheap. The opening price for women’s fitted polo shirts is $72; men’s, $69.Knit shirts go up to $90. Women’s knits represents the biggest volume classification, with about 10 styles in tops accounting for 55 to 60 percent of the business. Lacoste gets 11 deliveries to the stores each year. Women's crew sweaters are priced $145; cable turtleneck sweaters are priced at $185; quilted jackets and coats are priced $195, while down jackets retail for $295; corduroy pants $128, and denim jeans, $118. While the pique construction is the most popular and believed to have been invented by Lacoste, the brand also offers ribs, interlocks and wovens.
The classic polo is offered in 35 colors, with the most popular in men’s being white, black, navy, light blue and pink. In women’s, pink, black, white and light blue are the most popular.
All the colors appear all the more vivid against the Fifth Avenue’s store’s white walls and white laminate fixturing. Architecturally, the most dramatic elements of the store are the long, sweeping curved wall on the left, a suspended ceiling that looks like an island, and the cove lighting which perpetually changes to seven different colors. As a corner site, at 608 Fifth Avenue, formerly occupied by the Swiss Trade Commission, the new shop will have high visibility, with 35 feet of frontage on Fifth Avenue and 50 feet on 49th Street. The neighborhood could get even busier, with next year’s opening of American Girl on the southeast corner of 49th Street and Fifth Avenue.The Lacoste store concept was created in a collaboration between the Paris-based architect Patrick Rubin, of Canal Associates; Christophe Pillet, a furniture and interior designer; Lacoste creative director Christophe Lemaire, and New York-based store architect James D’Auria. Only the Dallas, Orlando, Scottsdale and San Juan stores incorporate the look, though future stores will have it, and existing stores will be remodeled.
Siegel characterized the store design as “bold, futuristic, pure white, with wall fixtures lit from the back that bring alive the colors that Lacoste stands for.
“Lacoste is all about color, so everything in our new store design really stands out.”
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye