NEW YORK — Balenciaga, whose creative director Demna Gvasalia epitomizes downtown cool, is heading uptown.
The French fashion house told WWD exclusively that it would open a boutique at 840 Madison Avenue in June. This confirms a report on WWD.com on March 27 that Balenciaga would likely take over the space, previously occupied by sister brand Gucci. (Both are controlled by French conglomerate Kering.)
Balenciaga said the store would be inspired by the new Gvasalia concept unveiled on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris earlier this month. Designed to resemble a clothing warehouse, that unit features clothes hung on industrial conveyor rails, ceilings covered in aluminum foil, changing room walls made of cast concrete and utilitarian benches covered in synthetic leather.
The location should stand out on a luxury strip home to such retail banners as Prada, Tom Ford, Valentino, Creed and Asprey.
Spanning about 2,000 square feet, it is to feature ready-to-wear for women and men along with accessories.
This brings to three the compliment of Balenciaga stores in Manhattan as the brand has two units in the city’s SoHo district.
“It has always been our intention to consider this strategically important location for one of the other brands in the group,” said Marco Bizzarri, president and chief executive officer of Gucci. “Meanwhile, Gucci’s strategy in Manhattan has included a renewed focus on downtown, to coincide with the revitalization of lower Manhattan.”
He noted that Gucci opened one of the first Alessandro Michele-designed stores in Brookfield Place in December 2015, and moved its U.S. corporate headquarters in Manhattan to 195 Broadway in August.
As reported, Gucci holds the lease on the 840 Madison space, a bi-level store that has 2,801 square feet on the ground floor and 7,487 on the balcony.
Madison Avenue has suffered from a surfeit of empty storefronts in recent years. High asking rents are one reason, according to experts. However, the rise in inventory in the fall encouraged landlords to lower their asking rents by 11 percent to $1,433 a square foot, from $1,613 a square foot the previous year.
Recent arrivals on the luxury strip include Elie Saab, Caudalie and Edie Parker.