NEW YORK — Ralph Lauren plans to open a store at 711 Fifth Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets, just 14 city blocks south and one avenue west of the company’s existing men’s and women’s units on Madison Avenue near 71st Street.
This story first appeared in the May 13, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It is true that we have committed to the Fifth Avenue location, the former Disney space,” a Ralph Lauren spokesman said, declining to provide further details or reveal when the store might open. However, sources believe the size will be 35,000 square feet.
The retailer has been discussing the possibility of leasing the space with owner Coca-Cola since 2010. The last tenant in the building, the Disney Store, occupied the 65,000-square-foot retail space until 2010, when it decamped to Times Square. In the early Nineties, Coca-Cola operated a 3,000-square-foot store in the building devoted to clothing, toys and memorabilia for the soft drink.
Retail experts pointed out that Ralph Lauren’s new flagship is too big for a single collection, so the store is likely to offer a number of the company’s labels.
Five years ago, Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue were considered the same market. Ralph Lauren established itself on Madison Avenue and 71st Street, where high-end stores clustered to meet the needs of wealthy Upper East Side residents. In addition to men’s and women’s and home flagships, Ralph Lauren operates an eyewear store on Madison Avenue and 68th Street and baby and children’s stores on Madison Avenue and 71st Street.
Now brands with deep pockets believe they need a presence on both streets to capture business from the local customers on Madison Avenue and tourists on Fifth Avenue.
Jeffrey C. Paisner, a partner at Ripco Real Estate, said “a lot of European [consumers] are buying products on the lower end of the price scale and a lot of wealthy Madison Avenue residents continue to buy designer merchandise.”
Paisner sees a third market emerging in close proximity to the established retail locals. “Some tenants will have stores on Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue in the Sixties, and a third store on Madison Avenue above 70th Street,” he said.
Valentino seems to be thinking along similar lines. The Roman brand this summer will open a boutique on Madison Avenue in a town house between 68th and 69th Streets. Last week, Valentino said it had signed a lease to open its biggest flagship in the world, a 20,000-square-foot unit at 693 Fifth Avenue.
Valentino chief executive officer Stefano Sassi told WWD the company leased the high-profile retail space to increase its visibility and recognition with the public.