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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Elie Tahari and Saks Fifth Avenue here have launched the retailer’s largest in-store boutique for a bridge brand.
Ron Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer of Saks Fifth Avenue, said the retailer was in talks to launch more large-format Elie Tahari shops in locations that he didn’t specify.
“It’s an extremely important business for us….We have very high expectations, Frasch said. “[The shop] will make the brand one of the most high-volume brands for ready-to-wear in the Beverly Hills store.”
The 5,000-square-foot Elie Tahari boutique, designed by Milan architectural firm Lissoni Associati, also is the biggest in-store location for the New York label.
Without providing figures, founder Elie Tahari said he expected business would “double or even triple” with the expanded space, which opened last Wednesday in the store on Wilshire Boulevard. The brand previously had a small area in the bridge/contemporary department.
“This is something that changes the business dramatically, when you have your own store,” Tahari said, adding that Saks was his company’s largest account. The label also is carried by Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
“Saks is investing in Elie Tahari and supporting us, and we feel that we want to do the same for them,” Tahari said.
The 260,000-square-foot Beverly Hills store been renovated in the last year, and the redo included the overhaul of four designer in-store shops: Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada and Gucci.
“The real estate and location indicated that we could do one great installation,” Frasch said. “Because we were already renovating, it allowed us to move quickly.”
Frasch added that company executives had been discussing the dangers of in-store shops becoming too big, but he maintained that the Tahari business in Beverly Hills, which he characterized as “very, very large,” warranted the extra space. “I do think shops can become too big,” Frasch said. “We measure things on productivity and sales per square foot. We are very cautious about how we do shops in our store environment. Do they lose their intimacy when they become too big? These are discussions that are taking place.”
This story first appeared in the May 30, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Neither Frasch nor Tahari would comment on the price tag of the project, although Elie Tahari spearheaded its design and tailored the environment to complement Saks’ sleek, uncluttered look.
“It was designed with the Saks image and customer in mind,” Tahari said.
Located on the contemporary-focused fourth floor, the Tahari shop is almost self-contained, featuring a dedicated entrance that leads into a small foyer flanked by transparent glass shelving. A subdued color palette of gray, cream and white defines the shop, which is rectangular with smaller rectangular enclaves built out to display subcollections of merchandise.
Crystal chandeliers hang from the white ceiling, which is dotted with recessed lighting. A 60-foot-long, backlit wall of carved translucent Corian evokes a series of larger-than-life floral vines. A dramatic, Baroque-inspired white table wraps around one of the shop’s three cash counters. A low, white credenza runs half the length of the store, featuring see-through glass pockets filled with folded apparel and accessories. Four dressing rooms have three-way mirrors and bronze racks and purse stands.
Elie Tahari launched a special, 12-piece line of eveningwear for the shop, including a halter-neck gown and a sequined top and dress, priced from $200 to $1,600. The shop also carries the full collection, which is priced from around $68 for a simple tank to about $500 for classic peacoats and cropped embroidered jackets.
The brand operates five stores, in New York, Las Vegas, Boston, Atlanta and East Hampton, N.Y. Tahari said the new shop-in-shop doesn’t preclude the opening of a freestanding Elie Tahari store in Los Angeles. The label recently came close to signing a lease here, but the deal fell through. “We’re back to square one,” Tahari said. “If we have a good opportunity to have a flagship in L.A. on a street [such as] Rodeo Drive or Melrose Place, we’ll do it.”