BULGARI SEEKING SITE IN SOHO

Byline: Sharon Edelson

NEW YORK — Bulgari, the prestigious jeweler with a flagship on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, is looking for space in SoHo for another flagship.
“We feel that what is going on in SoHo provides an excellent opportunity for us to continue the process of expanding the appeal of the Bulgari brand,” said Arrigo Berni, the firm’s U.S. managing director. “There are a number of sites we are looking into, but there’s nothing concrete.”
Bulgari is the latest in a growing group of tony retailers angling for space in SoHo. Gucci and Emporio Armani have said they are looking for space in SoHo.
In addition, sources said Fendi may be closing in on 96 Prince Street, a parking lot where Coach had been planning to build a multi-level store, but pulled out.
A Fendi spokeswoman had no knowledge of the site but said, “A while ago, we were looking at SoHo for Fendissime, a more youthful secondary label currently housed on the lower level of our Fifth Avenue store.”
Although Bulgari has yet to find a site, Berni said he hopes to open a store in SoHo sometime next year.
“We probably would not have considered this area suitable, or rather, we would not have been suitable for this area five years ago,” Berni said. “We did not have the right assortments to offer the SoHo customer. Also, SoHo is not the same as it was five years ago.”
Berni envisions a SoHo store with watches and jewelry and “more of a focus on our new accessory lines, leather goods and the gift items we are going to introduce next year.”
Bulgari’s handbags are priced from $900 to $1,600. The majority of its jewelry sells in the $2,000 to $5,000 range, but prices go into the millions for unique items.
In the past year, upscale retailers, including several with uptown stores, have built second locations in SoHo, reflecting a desire to reach a more youthful audience.
Prada and Louis Vuitton are planning to open stores in SoHo for primary collections, while Malo and Alberta Ferretti have dedicated their SoHo stores to lower-priced secondary lines.
Like Paris, where retailers operate stores on both the Right and Left Banks, New York is becoming a two-store city for some merchants.
“Secondary markets are also developing on Sloane Street in London and Via della Spiga in Milan,” said Richard Seligman, senior managing director of Insignia/ESG.”The original main streets are still important, but these are new areas where well-established retailers and newer names can establish themselves.”
“There are more hotels planned for SoHo, which will increase the tourism,” said Caroline Banker, senior vice president at New Spectrum Realty Services. “That supports these upscale stores.
There’s tremendous buying power downtown. It’s no longer the unemployed artist.”

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