Mark Cross is setting up shop for the first time in more than two decades. The brand, taken out of dormancy in 2011 and revived into a label beloved for its ladylike bags, will today open at 667 Madison Avenue.
The 2,000-square-foot space is the first step in president and chief executive officer Ulrik Garde Due’s plan to expand the Mark Cross footprint. While Mark Cross 2.0 has successfully won over luxury consumers, Garde Due hopes to enter new product categories and explore more direct retailing channels.
“I joined one year ago and a key strategic point for us has been a consumer-centric, digital-first strategy. We believe very much in omnichannel development and there is a necessity for us to serve the consumer online but also offline as well,” said Garde Due.
The executive hopes Mark Cross will grow its retail presence over the next few years to eventually operate a stable of five flagships around the world. “We are targeting key cities in Europe, including Paris and London, and are in discussion with partners in Asia to look at opportunities in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Japan,” said Garde Due.
The label had around 25 flagships across the U.S. in the Eighties and Nineties.
For its first modern store concept, Mark Cross has partnered with its Madison Avenue neighbor — the clean beauty company Naturopathica — on experiential retail. “While you are waiting to have a Mark Cross bag gift-wrapped you can have a tea tasting or go into the spa area to get a treatment. It’s an environment that’s new in the sense of what we are offering to the consumer,” said Garde Due. There will be a door connecting both stores from within.
The boutique will also host a residency program where artists will make unconventional displays. Alberte Skronski, the first residency participant, has created sculptures on which Mark Cross has slung its bags.
“It’s not a classic accessories store, when you enter it feels more like a gallery space — we have great flexibility in changing the environment according to the collection,” said Garde Due.
The executive is also pushing for newness from a brand that has relied on its structured Grace box-bag style for the last few years. Mark Cross will start offering introductory price point canvas bags from $590 to $1,250; soft accessories like scarves, starting at $320, and costume jewelry (starting at $890).
Explained Garde Due: “It’s important to create a commercial price as a merchandising strategy. We want the brand to become an important gift destination and I’m excited for these launches in the lead-up to the holiday season.”