Where does Marshall Mathers shop when he visits his home turf?
Detroit-born Mathers, better known as Eminem, frequents the Marshall Field’s store at The Somerset Collection in the Detroit suburb of Troy. One reason? The store carries Shady Ltd., Eminem’s line of hip-hop inspired clothing. Another? It’s only fitting that the multimillionaire rapper, actor and designer would shop at the glittering marble-and-glass space, by far the most upscale Field’s in the Detroit area.
Among Field’s 12 Detroit-area stores, Somerset “isn’t officially the flagship but it has that feel,” said Scott Ferguson, regional director for Detroit and a 16-year Field’s veteran.
“It’s very upscale, not only in products but in the guests that tend to shop at Somerset,” Ferguson said. “The merchandise is the best we carry in the Detroit group, from St. John Knits all the way down. The store carries a breadth of assortment.”
The store borrows some of its cachet from its inclusion in The Somerset Collection, one of the most upscale shopping centers in the Midwest. A 700-foot people mover connects the northern and southern halves of the enclosed mall, which holds four department stores (Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom complete the lineup); 180 specialty stores, including flagship renditions of Victoria’s Secret, The Limited and other national chains, and six restaurants.
“The Collection is a point of destination for tourists,” Ferguson said. Locally, the center attracts residents from affluent Detroit suburbs, including Farmington Hills and Birmingham.
Somerset is among a handful of unique Field’s locations dotting the Midwest. The 73-year-old Field’s store in Lake Forest, Ill., stands out for its location in a circa-1915 bank building. “Marshall Field lived in the area, so he decided to use the building for ready-to-wear,” said Jill Miller, a Chicago-based regional director for Field’s.
At 16,368-square-feet on three levels, the Lake Forest location is the smallest in the chain. It doesn’t have an elevator; instead, guests ascend to the second floor via a grand staircase.
The Water Tower Marshall Field’s gets a nod for its placement in the country’s first vertical mall, Miller said. As befits its location on tourist-heavy Michigan Avenue, the store carries more fashion-forward merchandise and a greater selection of designer wear than many other Field’s outlets, she said.The Somerset Field’s, which encompasses 300,012 square feet on three floors, opened as a Hudson’s in 1996. Dayton Hudson Corp. (now Target Corp.) acquired Marshall Field’s in 1990. In a move toward brand unity, in 2001 the Somerset location, along with all stores operating under the banner Dayton’s or Hudson’s, was renamed Marshall Field’s.
With its marble aisles and glittering chandeliers, the store’s interior matches the elegant Somerset Collection. “It’s grandiose, it’s upscale,” said Miller.
A large center rotunda with glass elevators holds a clock that echoes the iconic timepiece projecting from the exterior of Marshall Field’s State Street flagship in Chicago. “It doesn’t look like the clock on State Street but it is a clock,” Ferguson said.
In addition, the store is the archive store for Detroit, meaning it displays memorabilia from Field’s past, space permitting.
The merchandise reflects the store’s upscale status. It is the only Field’s store in Detroit that carries designer women’s apparel, and it carries the largest collection of bridge lines among the area’s 12 stores.
To court customers in search of a more contemporary look, the Somerset Field’s carries younger brands, among them Free People. “We just got that in and it’s doing extremely well,” Ferguson said. Men in search of a contemporary look can find Alex Cannon, traditional men’s wear with a modern twist, and Emmanuel, an upscale line.
European intimate labels such as 6ixty 8ight and O Lingerie please a more contemporary female customer as well. Lisa Charmel, Chantal Thomass and Sybaris, intimate labels currently offered at the State Street store, may soon find their way to Somerset, said a Field’s spokeswoman. “State Street provides a testing ground,” she said. “As we learn what works at State Street, we roll it into other stores across the chain.
The Somerset Field’s has experimented with shop-in-shops, as in the State Street location. Said Ferguson: “We are really looking at providing a new assortment in all our stores. It’s not to the level of 350-plus at State Street, but we have a lot of new vendors that are unique,” though he declined to give specifics. (Neither would he release sales figures for the Somerset location.)Somerset picks up some of its uniqueness simply from being a Detroit-area store. For instance, Detroit residents play up Sweetest Day, the holiday that falls the third Saturday of October. The holiday, which originated in Cleveland as one man’s antidote to the dark days of the Depression, originally involved giving toys and trinkets to orphans and homeless people.
Sweetest Day has since evolved into a fall version of Valentine’s Day, and Detroit residents happily cooperate by buying lots of fragrance. In fact, Sweetest Day trumps Valentine’s Day fragrance sales at the store, and the Somerset location’s annual fragrance sales are among the highest in the chain.
As upscale as Somerset is, Ferguson pointed out that other Detroit-area stores cater to a more urban crowd.
A wide selection of apparel from Echo, Sean Jean, Phat Farm, JLo, Fetish and, of course, Shady Ltd. fills the shelves at Field’s locations in the Northland, Fairlane and Eastland shopping centers, Ferguson said.
“That’s something that’s a little different from other markets,” Ferguson said. “We really do cater to an urban customer in Detroit.”
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