Today, the retailer launches an exclusive Giorgio Armani men’s and women’s capsule collection at its Madison Avenue flagship and on barneys.com, and the intent behind this latest collaboration is clear — to up Barneys’ air of exclusivity, spark greater traffic to the store and its web site, and celebrate what’s been a long and special relationship with the legendary designer dating back to the mid-Seventies.
“I believe loyalty is the foundation of long-term relationships,” Armani told WWD. “I’ve had a bond with Barneys since the beginning of my career. My style arrived in America precisely because of this store, which played a huge role in promoting it.”
In 1976, Barneys became the first luxury store to sell Giorgio Armani men’s wear in the U.S., and to this day still sells the designer’s men’s and women’s collections and Armani beauty products. At the time, Barneys created a television commercial introducing Armani to America. The partnership formed the foundation for Barneys’ reputation as a launchpad for emerging designer brands and spotlighted Armani’s reimagined, modern and sensual take on men’s wear.
Barneys was founded by Barney Pressman on 17th Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood but it was his son, the late Fred Pressman, a pioneer in men’s wear, who transformed the location to a luxury emporium. Pressman was relentless in scouring the markets for new and rare men’s labels and discovered the work of Armani in the early Seventies.
“Fred set out not only to introduce Giorgio Armani in America, but endeavored to form a collaboration with Mr. Armani that would continue on for nearly half a century,” said Tom Kalenderian, Barneys’ executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s, home and children’s.
Kalenderian, himself a Barneys veteran who was mentored by Fred Pressman, said “through the lens of Barneys New York, Armani soon became a household name in America, with Barneys putting a focus on marketing the partnership. I still remember learning about Armani from the ads illustrated by George Stavrinos in The New York Times and television commercials like the one that ran in 1976.”
The capsule collection of daywear and eveningwear embodies the classic spirit of Armani elegance. It’s simple, sophisticated and timeless. “The creation of this collection became a collaborative effort to re-create the way we began with Mr. Armani, whereby he designed specifically for the Barneys man and woman,” said Kalenderian. The collaboration “reignites our historic partnership and recognizes the timeless elegant style we have come to know as being ‘very Armani,'” Kalenderian said.
Among the offerings in women’s: long coats, wide-legged trouser suits, dresses, blouses and shirts, including tailored heritage blazer jackets, priced between $2,995 and $3,495; pants, $1,195 to $2,395; chevron-patterned long coats, priced $6,595, and a python-print leather coat priced $7,695.
For men, the selection includes suits, trenchcoats, suede bomber jackets, T-shirts and knitwear, including a leather and suede bomber jacket, priced $4,995, and geometric crepe two-button sport coats, priced $1,995.
The pieces, available in Armani’s characteristic neutral, understated color palette, are embellished with simple geometric motifs.
Barneys has established a 400-square-foot space for the line on the fourth floor on the women’s side of the flagship, which will include Armani Casa and Armani beauty products as well as the capsule collection. There are additional “impacts” on the men’s side of the store, as well as a window on the 60th Street side of the store showcasing key looks, said a Barneys official.
“Barneys is a store with a unique spirit, whose wide-ranging clientele has fine taste,” Armani said. “I’m offering these clients today a selection of pieces that represents a concentrated version of my vision of elegance, from daywear to eveningwear. I imagined an exclusive product, born from a feeling of friendship.”
“No partner is better suited to honor Mr. Armani and celebrate his significant contribution to fashion than Barneys New York,” Kalenderian said. “The partnership between Barneys and Armani is rare and special.”
He said Armani is “synonymous with modern luxury,” adding, “Mr. Armani first reimagined men’s wear effortlessly combining sensuality with sophistication in the most understated way. The cut, the drape, the softness of his clothes, all contributed to the iconic language of the Armani look. The way he reimagined the suit will go down in history as profoundly groundbreaking. He changed the way men and women look in a suit in a way that was not only fresh, but powerful and modern. His nod to the style of past was not nostalgic, but rather a romantic approach to making men and women look chic.
“I can honestly say that the way we view how men look in a suit changed forever after Armani.”