Eskandar, a small designer brand with a devout following, has a growing footprint at Bergdorf Goodman.
This story first appeared in the March 24, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Its new shop on the sixth floor is 1,400 square feet and features views of Central Park. Only a handful of other designer shops, such as Prada and Giorgio Armani, occupy similar or more square footage at Bergdorf’s. Eskandar had been on the third floor, displayed in space shared with other designers.
“We are a little-known brand, and we don’t do much in the way of advertising,” designer Eskandar Nabavi said at the March 6 opening of the shop. “But we have a very high turnover at Bergdorf Goodman. We are kind of a secret success.”
He is proud of the view, and for uncovering windows that were walled over for years and replacing them with antique stained glass. In addition, a higher ceiling was created as part of the renovation.
There are oak floors, reclaimed rafters established as shelves and country-esque display tables, helping to achieve a “rustic chic” ambience, said the designer, who goes simply by Eskandar. The shop is inspired by his stores in London, Paris and New York and is segmented into six areas, enabling his team to merchandise by color groups, including some created especially for Bergdorf’s.
The item-intensive collection, with its signature billowy, unstructured silhouettes, luxurious fabrics and yarns and hand-detailing, draws customers often in their 40s or older. Cashmere represents the core of the collection, which ranges from Peruvian pima cotton T-shirts for $150 to summer knits from $600 to $800 and cashmeres from $950 to $1,600.
The colors are rich: berries, reds, oranges and aubergines are featured as well as nutmegs, chestnuts and walnut greens. Hand-embroidered flourishes appear on a range of items, from petticoat skirts to evening jackets. The collection draws upon multicultural influences, and offers merchandise such as Brazilian seed necklaces in berry tones, and handwoven linen scarves from Nepal.
Eskandar, who said his clothes are not governed by “trends” but by function, tradition and layers, was taught to knit by his grandmother and has been in business for 13 years. He plans three more freestanding stores in the next three years, and in the U.S. sells at Neiman Marcus and independent specialty stores, as well as Bergdorf’s, which has nurtured a designer exclusive that generates in the vicinity of $6 million in sales.
“We are extremely proud of our relationship with Eskandar,” said Jim Gold, Bergdorf’s chief executive officer. “He has his own aesthetic. It’s a multicultural, eclectic sensibility, yet extremely luxurious. And the label is ours exclusively in Manhattan,” aside from the three-year-old Eskandar store on 10th Street and University Place. “It’s super high-quality fabrics and yarns, pure luxury with very unusual shapes. It’s very relaxed, yet with a chic sensibility.”