NEW YORK — Bergdorf Goodman Men is stepping up its commitment to Thom Browne.
Already one of the store’s hottest vendors after only three years in business, the designer will be getting even more light in the store come August.
Currently, Bergdorf has a couture Thom Browne boutique on its contemporary third floor but, in an exclusive arrangement, the store will begin offering shirts and ties on its main floor and more-traditional tailored clothing on the second floor.
“We’ve been extremely successful with suits, shirts and ties in the third-floor boutique,” said Margaret Spaniolo, senior vice-president and GMM of men’s for Bergdorf. “Every season the shirts and ties sell out, and we were also selling out of his classic gray and navy suits. ”
And now that his company has grown internally, Browne is finally in a position to produce these categories specifically for the upscale New York retailer.
“We talked about it for three years but he didn’t have the people or the production space,” Spaniolo said. “Before it was just Thom; now he’s got people running the business for him.” As reported, last month Browne hired Tom Becker as chief executive and president, and Thomas Cunningham as CFO.
Spaniolo stressed that the merchandise on the first and second floors will offer fabrics that won’t be found in the couture boutique, and the size offering will be expanded to fit a wider range of customers. Browne sizes his suits 0, 1, 2, 3, which translates into 36, 38, 40, 42. The merchandise sold on the first and second floors will go up to a size 5, or a 46, Spaniolo said. “And we’ll also have longs. The shirts will also go up to a size 5.”
But, she stressed, the look will be quintessential Thom Browne. “It’s Thom Browne in the way its cut and in the fabric choices, but it allows all of the customers in our store to buy it rather than a select group. We believe there’s a much larger audience for Thom than for just the designer line.”
The clothing will be located at the bottom of the escalator bank leading from Browne’s couture shop on three. It will be merchandised near Ralph Lauren Black Label and Bergdorf’s New Concept shop in an area currently housing formalwear. “It’s an easy escalator ride down,” Spaniolo said.
The shirts and ties will have their own space on the main floor. The shirts will come packaged in a gray Thom Browne box with a fabric swatch on the outside, and their wrinkled wash will remain the same. The neckwear, which is constructed from the same fabrics as the suits, will be merchandised alongside.
Prices for the suits will range from $3,400 to $4,200 and shirts will be $325 to $390.
Spaniolo believes the addition of Browne will help provide some excitement to the dress-furnishings area. “They have a great fit and a more-relaxed look, and we believe people are looking for an alternative. We’ve been able to touch every area of the store, but dress furnishings have not changed that much. And we’re trying to build and support American designers so it would be nice to have one on the first floor.”
Spaniolo said Browne has “revolutionized the men’s wear business” since breaking onto the scene in the fall of 2004. “If you look at any designer or manufacturer, they’ve taken inspiration from Thom, whether it’s a shorter jacket or a tighter fit.” And Browne has expressed a desire to be “a serious player in the men’s business” since the beginning, she added. “He said he wanted guys going to work wearing his suits.”
Spaniolo declined to disclose how long the exclusive arrangement with Bergdorf will last. She did, however, say that Browne’s recent, highly publicized collaboration with Brooks Brothers to produce a Black Fleece collection for the chain beginning this fall, had no impact on Bergdorf’s decision to expand its Thom Browne offering.
“It didn’t really change anything,” she said. “We just moved forward. It’s a completely different silhouette and we know that our customer wants Thom Browne, not Black Fleece.”
Browne’s designer collection is also carried in New York at Barneys, Jeffrey and his own eponymous store in Tribeca.