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NEW YORK — Bloomingdale’s renovated lingerie department at the 59th Street flagship here may represent the shape of things to come.

“This is a seminal moment for Bloomingdale’s…because it says to us we can spend millions of dollars for things not just from a visual point of view, but to also pick up volume,” said chairman and chief executive officer Michael Gould. “I believe this is one of the most important moments in Bloomingdale’s history, and this could be a harbinger of other kinds of renovations.”

The 12,522-square-foot space on the fourth floor, unveiled Monday, is intended to appeal to shoppers with a sophisticated, luxe ambience akin to the third-floor designer and bridge ready-to-wear department that was transformed into the New Bridge, New View department in September.

The challenge will be to boost sales 15 to 20 percent without having increased the square footage, Gould said. The Bloomingdale’s design team’s revamp, which was headed by Shane DiNapoli, better manages existing space with the illusion of wider-open vistas leading into the foundations, sleepwear and fitting room areas, Gould said.

Four factors will be key in making the new intimates department a success: service, quality, a specialized ambience and a pampered fitting room experience that makes the customer feel as if she were in her own bedroom, Gould said.

“If this concept works, the implications for Bloomingdale’s are incredible,” Gould said. “How we do this will determine how we grow our business, continue to drive average unit sales up and the items per transaction. If this is successful, it will tell me the average unit sale, which now is two units per person. So how do we get that to three or four units? It’s all about suggestive selling and making that lady feel special in the dressing room.”

As part of the overhaul, bras and panties traded places with the space for foundations and sleepwear and now claim a larger area on the Lexington Avenue side. Stockrooms encompass 3,828 square feet, and there are 18 fitting rooms totaling more than 1,500 square feet.

The cream-and-black venue has evolved from an old-fashioned format of narrow aisles filled with an overabundance of product and fixtures to a classic, contemporary statement: 40 blush-tone mannequins on platforms line wide marble aisles; plasma TVs run footage of French lingerie shows, and the number of units on the selling floor has been cut to 35,000 from 55,000 for a cleaner presentation.

This story first appeared in the June 27, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Special touches include boudoir furnishings; soft, cosmetic-like lighting; contemporary, full-length mirrors; hand-painted glass panels, and decorative brocade curtains that lend a salon-style elegance.

The main entrance features a soft-shop area of upscale Italian brand La Perla in a boudoir setting. Another soft-shop concept will be unveiled in September for high-end British label Agent Provocateur.

The vendor base has been expanded to include several European names, such as foundations by Huit, Simone Perele, Vaninna Vesperini, Sabrina Nadal and sleepwear by Chantal Thomass, said Francine Klein, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of intimate apparel, cosmetics, accessories and shoes.

She noted that Bloomingdale’s is “strengthening its designer and bridge businesses in a major way” with big names, including Hanro, Chantelle, Wacoal and Natori, as well as status brands like Calvin Klein Underwear and DKNY Underwear. Mannequins lace the floor with lingerie that has a contemporary spin, with daywear items and bras and coordinating panties by Eileen West, Elle Macpherson Intimates, On Gossamer and Cosabella.

In order to provide enhanced quality service, Klein said the combined Bloomingdale’s and vendor sales and support force had been doubled to 93.

The elegant fitting rooms feature three-way mirrors, a nook to place a handbag, a cushy chair and a phone to call a sales associate for assistance. The associates, who leave their business cards in a clear plaque on the fitting room wall, also wear call system headsets to speed service. The topper is a 60-drawer armoire that stands behind the concierge and houses the top 25 bra styles.

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