NEW YORK — Loehmann’s, the no-frills chain that sells designer labels at bargain basement prices, is moving into Barneys’ back pocket. In fact, it’s taking 60,000 square feet of the original Barneys New York flagship on Seventh Avenue, between 16th and 17th Streets, in what might emerge as a tug-of-war for the downtown designer customer.

However, Robert Pressman, co-chief executive officer of Barneys, said Monday there’s only an “insignificant” amount of merchandise to be found in both stores. The Loehmann’s move, rather than signaling an end to Barneys downtown, “could bring traffic to Barneys,” he added.

Recently, at Loehmann’s in White Plains, N.Y., a poster listed 15 featured designer and bridge lines including Calvin Klein, Byblos, Anne Klein, DKNY, Donna Karan, Emanuel Ungaro, Jones New York, Cynthia Steffe, Andrea Jovine, Gillian and Moschino. Often, however, the merchandise is off-season.

Barneys, on the other hand, sells the latest in high-end European designer goods, such as Chanel and Giorgio Armani, but also sells Calvin Klein and Donna Karan.

Market sources estimated a 2 to 5 percent merchandise overlap.

In addition, Barneys carries a lot of private label and men’s wear, further distinguishing it from Loehmann’s.

Loehmann’s confirmed the opening but wouldn’t provide any details about the store. While there may only be a few merchandise overlaps, a bargain-basement Loehmann’s isn’t exactly the type of neighbor Barneys would prefer, since the stores attract different types of customers. Comparison shopping is inevitable, as customers scour the racks of Loehmann’s in search of a label at off-price that is full-price at Barneys.

Pressman said the 17th Street store, which currently has 140,000 square feet of selling space, is running above its sales plan and is ready for expansion.

“In 1991, we announced an expansion plan to have a complete new store by 1996. We will be announcing extension renovations. We own considerable space on 17th street, which is used for storage and offices and could be converted to selling space.” Pressman said Barneys could eventually grow to over 150,000 square feet.

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