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Rubensteins Unveils Post-Katrina Upgrade

In a renovation that was planned before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city Rubensteins has spent $2.5 million to increase the size of the men’s department.

NEW ORLEANS — Men’s wear has an expanded new home at Rubensteins.

In a renovation that was planned before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city and the store two years ago, the New Orleans specialty retailer has spent $2.5 million to increase the size of the men’s department to 10,000 square feet from 8,000 square feet and expand all departments by an average of 20 percent.

“We think of it as a major signal to everyone that the city is now open and more ready for business than ever,” said David Rubenstein, who co-owns the store with his brother, Andre Rubenstein.

Rubensteins, which has been in operation since 1924, is located in five 1824 historic structures facing Canal Street, a stone’s throw from the French Quarter. Ornate finials, dental molding and decorative plaster elements are magnificent calling cards to the store’s retail compound.

Some might consider the investment a bold move in post-Katrina New Orleans but, for the Rubensteins, it represents their third-generation stake in the city and long-term commitment to the store.

Currently, men’s suits represent about 40 percent of the mix. Furnishings, sportswear and shoes each account for approximately 20 percent of the remainder. New space has been carved out for the younger generation by adding fresh brands such as Band of Outsiders, Hugo Hugo Boss, Operations and Rag & Bone.

However, the venerable A-list European designers such as Brioni and Ermenegildo Zegna continue to be featured across all departments. Additionally, men’s clothing, now at 2,500 square feet, up from 1,500 square feet, includes Canali and Armani, while furnishings showcase such vendors as Robert Talbott and Eton in an area that has increased to 600 square feet, from 350 square feet. The sportswear area—featuring Etro, Polo, Lacoste and Tailorbyrd—has grown from 2,500 square feet to 3,500 square feet.

Floor-to-ceiling columns flank a wide central aisle extending the length of the store, with sportswear on one side, and suits and furnishings on the other. The columns’ insets of walnut veneer panels with vertical slices of glass highlighting color changing LED lamps create a Star Wars–style excitement.

One of the most dramatic additions to the space is a sweeping staircase. Fusing such modern elements as brushed and polished stainless steel, curved glass panels and gray granite treads, it lures customers to the women’s department. The women’s area—expected to grow to 12,500 square feet in phase two of the renovation project—has a projected spring 2008 completion.