NEW YORK — Bloomingdale’s has proven that by offering a distinct merchandise mix, superior customer service and a compelling design, men will actually travel past the main floor to shop.
And so, when the department store retailer throws open the doors to its 40th store in Chevy Chase, Md., on Sept. 27, the men’s wear team has no doubts that it can lure men to the third floor.
“This is the second store that we’ve opened with men’s on the top floor,” said David Fisher, executive vice-president and GMM of men’s for Bloomingdale’s, referring to the company’s San Francisco unit, which debuted last fall. “And it’s the first store outside of Soho where there are no men’s accessories or dress furnishings on the main level. But with the success we’ve had in San Francisco and Soho, that doesn’t bother us anymore.”
In fact, because of the upper-level location in the Washington, D.C., suburb, Bloomingdale’s was able to take advantage of a circular skylight and a balanced mobile by New York sculptor Brandon d’Leo to show men’s in its best light.
The center of the third floor features a rotunda that separates men from home. The men’s department, although only about half the size of the one in San Francisco, is average for a branch, Fisher said, with about 26,500 square feet of selling space. “We’re happy with that,” he said.
The total store measures 182,458 square feet, and is markedly smaller than the average Bloomingdale’s branch at 230,000 to 250,000 square feet. It is located in the Wisconsin Place mixed-use open-air center, and introduces an innovative new home format as well as the chain’s most upscale assortment in the region.
The offerings in men’s are segmented between traditional on one side and contemporary on the other, but the overall impression is “opulent,” Fisher said.
“In the very back is tailored clothing and dress shirts—crisp and very well edited,” he added, noting that there will be an Armani Collezioni shop that “will be fabulous. The whole back is very luxurious.”
The left side of the men’s department is “more classic,” he said, and “will be grounded by a Polo shop, which will be very edited but will also include Blue Label.” There are also Ralph Lauren Black Label and Canali shops here. Other vendors offered will be Boss Hugo Boss, Corneliani, John Varvatos, Burberry and Z Zegna, as well as a cashmere/outerwear department with Andrew Marc, Allegri and Canada Goose.
On the right will be “a sensational denim assortment,” Fisher said, as well as a Lab department. Brands in this area will include Gilded Age, Simon Miller, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang, Martin Margiela, Dsquared, Marni, Michael Bastian and Marc Jacobs. Theory, Z Zegna and Boss Red Label will also be offered here.
Bloomingdale’s currently operates two other stores in the D.C. market—Tysons Corner in McLean, Va., and White Flint, Md.—but the new store “is a chance to bring to the Washington market what we’ve been doing for the past two to three years,” Fisher said.
“This mix is more like what we have in our new California stores and San Francisco,” added Kevin Harter, vice-president of fashion direction for men, home and Young World. “Half of the brands and designers here you couldn’t find in Tysons or White Flint.”
Fisher said the men’s areas at the existing stores do “okay,” with Tysons slightly stronger than White Flint. “They’re B stores but they should be stronger,” Fisher said. “In every market there is a base of customers that matches the Bloomingdale’s men’s DNA. And there are enough for us to do a lot of business.”
The Chevy Chase store is expected to do $50 million in annual sales, according to sources. Overall, Bloomingdale’s is expected to have sales of $2.6 billion this year, with three stores in California, in San Francisco, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and San Diego, and a fourth in Chestnut Hill, Mass., opening within the past year.
The company is said to be eyeing sites in Phoenix, Dallas and Seattle, as well as Asia.
“Macy’s Inc. would very much like to see Bloomingdale’s have a very intensive growth program over the next few years,” Michael Gould, Bloomingdale’s chairman and CEO, said in an interview. “We are exploring a number of opportunities throughout the country. An awful lot of developers and real estate people have been pursuing us.”
He said Bloomingdale’s is “looking at opportunities in many places. We have had terrific growth in the top line and bottom line. We think Soho and San Francisco have proven to us there are many different footprints we think could serve as a successful Bloomingdale’s store. We need to find different equations for allocating space by family of business.” While other retailers take a cookie-cutter approach, Bloomingdale’s finds ways to deliver a different nuance to each community.
To introduce the store to the Chevy Chase community, Harter said it will “open with a series of events over the next three months to generate excitement.” On Tuesday, a private charity reception to benefit the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is scheduled. In men’s, there will be a Saturday Series in the denim department every week along with VH1/John Varvatos and Ralph Lauren events, and a “Guys Night Out” in October.
“There will be constant activity going on,” Harter said. “We’re going to be very aggressive.”