GREENWICH, Conn. — Saks Fifth Avenue’s first freestanding Saks 10022-Shoe store — a format the luxury retailer contemplated for years until the real estate and timing were just right — debuts here today.
It’s a 14,000-square-foot, split-level location at 20 Elm Street filled with established and advanced designers and upscale brands, from Adidas and Puma athletic footwear to studded Valentino evening styles as well as emerging labels with a contemporary bent such as Tabitha Simmons, Aquazzura and Paul Andrew.
Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Nicholas Kirkwood and Stuart Weitzman are also among the many labels displayed, creating a high-end offering ranging from casual to special occasion — stilettos, sandals, sneakers, boots, platforms and high heels.
The store is a block and half from the existing Saks Fifth Avenue women’s store at 205 Greenwich Ave., as well as from the sites where the retailer will next year debut two other specialty formats: The Collective for contemporary women’s apparel and The Vault for fine jewelry.
The Collective and The Vault shops will be housed in the same building, 200 Greenwich Ave., but are not contiguous. They have different entrances and are separated by the Sandro and Sweaty Betty stores.
Together, the quartet of specialty stores has been designated The Saks Shops in Greenwich. It’s a unique complex of retail space, enabling the company to grow its various women’s businesses and potentially capture greater sales in the well-heeled Greenwich area. For example, there are 1,500 stockkeeping units in the new freestanding 10022-Shoe store, compared to the 500 that were housed in just a 2,700-square-foot space in the women’s store. The new 10022-Shoe store also has 18 labels Saks didn’t carry before in Greenwich.
Marc Metrick, president of Saks, has said the existing women’s store in Greenwich, which will be renovated next year, has been “one of our most productive stores in the company.”
On Wednesday, WWD got a preview of the shoe store, which was a former Urban Outfitters unit and which was designed in collaboration with the firm FRCH. It’s merchandised by brand. Up front is a generously spaced landing area, providing an ample view of most of the store, and a few display areas to highlight some key athletic labels, as well as for Dries Van Noten and Tabitha Simmons. With its exposed, painted-brick walls, exposed ceiling and track lighting, the area is distinct from the rest of the store.
Three steps down off the landing is the more formal, main area for the bulk of the assortment, which is elegantly presented. Brands are shown amid an array of fixtures in a mix of finishes from marble and chrome to printed velvets, suede and gold plated, several in unusual amorphous shapes.
Metrick described the setting as cool, comfortable and conducive to shoppers interacting with associates and with other shoppers. “It will be very interesting to see how customers respond. Shopping has become a lot more about sharing. To provide that residential feel is important. We really want people to feel comfortable,” he said.
“It is industrial but it’s not cold. It’s a warm environment, very social and interactive,” added Tracy Margolies, Saks’ chief merchant.
While the new 10022-Shoe store does stand alone, it’s very much connected to the big picture strategy at Saks, Metrick emphasized. “We are nimble. We are transforming. We can’t be cookie cutter.” He said with the Greenwich complex, the company is being opportunistic to satisfy the needs of the area. “In a market like this, this is a perfect play. In a neighborhood like this, smaller is bigger,” he said.
“Between Greenwich, our Fifth Avenue flagship renovation and our renovation in the Walt Whitman mall in Huntington, N.Y., we are solidifying Saks’ position in the New York metro area. It’s a big, big part of our strategy,” said Metrick, who also cited the planned store in the American Dream mall in the Meadowlands in New Jersey. “We are going after the New York market in a bigger way than ever. We believe we are creating new, unbelievable experiences for our customers.”
In Greenwich, shopping the different categories at Saks will require a short stroll by customers to each door, rather than having it all under one roof. But Saks executives say getting women to cross shop won’t be a problem since on busy days, there will be plenty of sales help — up to 23 associates at 10022-Shoe — who will escort customers from door to door.
As a personal shopping service, associates upon request will have ready-to-wear from the women’s store awaiting clients who may just want to be at the shoe store. “The relationships customers have with associates will drive the customer across the street to the different categories,” Metrick said. “Our associates are trained to sell all [four] stores.
“And if you think about the proximity, you are actually closer to each category than you would be shopping our New York City flagship.”
As another service, shoppers can aggregate packages from the four stores and get free same-day delivery provided it’s within a 10-mile radius of The Saks Shops in Greenwich, and before 2 p.m. “I really believe people will go from store to store,” he said.