NEW YORK — The Saks Fifth Avenue flagship here is being pumped up with a Christian Louboutin shop-in-shop, as part of a tweaking of the 10022-Shoe floor.
Other changes include the addition of accessories from Louboutin, Alexander McQueen and possibly other designers in the future, and the restaurant on the same floor will be renovated this year but stay open.
“When you have a big floor like we have, providing some brand direction for customers is important so it’s not just a sea of racks,” said Ron Frasch, Saks’ president and chief merchandising officer. “You need some interesting elements that break it up and frame the floor.”
The 1,600-square-foot Louboutin in-store shop, opening Wednesday, is the designer’s first in the U.S. and its biggest in-store shop worldwide. “We got a great spot at Saks,” said Alexis Mourot, chief operating officer of Louboutin. “It’s actually two spaces linked together — the atrium space plus a second three-wall space. It’s very comparable to one of our larger stores.”
The walled area will display Louboutin accessories, and there will be a space for special products and collaborative projects. In the past, Louboutin has collaborated with the Parisian cabaret Crazy Horse, Barbie and Walt Disney Studios. Louboutin worked with the New York-based architectural and product design company 212box to create the Saks space with Louboutin’s distinct arched niche walls, signature red carpet, hand-carved Burma teak wood tiles and a storefront window that will change seasonally.
“Saks New York is one of the top-selling doors for us in the world,” Mourot said, with best-selling styles including the Pigalle 120, Bianca 140, Lady Peep 150, Very Prive 120, Daffodile 160, Highness 160 and Corneille 100. Louboutin also has shops inside Lane Crawford, Isetan, Matsuya, Selfridges, Harrods and Saks in the Middle East. The brand has 53 freestanding stores and 14 shops-in-shop.
“Everybody is building bigger and bigger shoe floors,” Frasch observed. “We led the way about five-and-half years ago,” when 10022-Shoe was introduced. The presentation was expanded to the tower side of the flagship this past year. The department houses designer and contemporary footwear ranging from casual to evening, and ranks as the store’s most productive area next to the main floor. Aside from Louboutin, Saks has shoe shops for Louis Vuitton and Roger Vivier. McQueen accessories will be added to the floor in July.
“When you create an expanded shoe offer, you’ve got to be careful that it doesn’t get so large that it becomes confusing or one-dimensional,” Frasch said. “Footwear is still an extremely strong business and obviously very competitive in this market. We continue to elevate the business.”