Byline: Karyn Monget

NEW YORK — The new innerwear department at Macy’s Herald Square is a showcase for the next millennium.
It spotlights intimate apparel in a modern setting of luxurious shops, soft lighting that actually flatters a woman’s appearance and blond wood and pastel accents on walls and fixtures that make shopping for lingerie a pleasure.
The redo is part of a department-by-department facelift at the flagship. Innerwear’s former third-floor location is being used for an expansion of men’s wear; women’s coats and swimwear, which had been in innerwear’s new space, have moved to the fourth floor.
While the space of the new innerwear department on the sixth floor is about the same as it was in its third-floor location — 30,000 square feet — the luxury of open spaces gives it a much loftier look. Aisles of grayish-beige marble curve around shops where specialty and fashion items are displayed on customized blond wood fixtures and glass-encased tables.
Oversized Deco-inspired oval mirrors decorate each shop area, and 20 spacious fitting rooms feature pretty velvet banquettes and information about the right fit of a bra, framed in blond wood.
Macy’s officially unveiled the department starting Sept. 15 with a week-long series of events, including an appearance by Olympic legend Nadia Comaneci for Danskin sports bras and active apparel; a runway fashion show featuring Calvin Klein innerwear, and a fit seminar by shapewear designer Nancy Ganz.
Robin Suvoy, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel, said, “Our objective was a state-of-the-art floor, a floor that looks updated, but remains feminine. We wanted a floor that is easier for customers to shop and find merchandise.
“We have more cross aisles than we did on the third floor, and we have increased the number of salespeople in both service and stock support areas,” said Suvoy. She would not specify numbers.
Key to the selling floor are new contemporary service desks, a full-service area where cashiers were promptly ringing up sales last week. The five service desks — being tested in the innerwear department before being rolled out chainwide — were designed to create impulse buys, with cubbyholes housing items like Fashion Forms, glue-on strapless bras.
Macy’s officials would not say how much was spent to create the innerwear showpiece, but sources placed the cost at around $2 million, including vendor contributions for concept shops. Sales increases in the past several weeks, compared with the period a year ago, generally vary from 9 to 12 percent for national bra brands to as high as 200 percent for designer merchandise, sources said.
Three in-store designer boutiques line the entrance of the department and its 34th Street side: Donna Karan Intimates, which measures around 1,000 square feet; Ralph Lauren Intimates, ensconced in about 1,400 square feet, and Calvin KIein Underwear, which has the largest space — 2,800 square feet. The estimated cost of the designer shops goes up to $377,000 for the Calvin Klein innerwear shop.
“We have a long-term strategy to go after better and designer brands, limited distribution and fashion,” Suvoy said, noting new to the department are foundations by Lejaby, Parisa, Le Mystere and Simone Perele, and daywear by Hanro. Macy’s also is featuring sleepwear by Halston Signature for the first time, she said.
Asked if any brands have been cut, Suvoy replied, “No one was eliminated, but some were somewhat downsized.” She would not elaborate.
Suvoy noted juniors will be a “big opportunity in the spring,” adding that Macy’s is considering an in-store environment that will make junior customers “comfortable.”
Another classification Suvoy has targeted as a “big opportunity for growth” is active innerwear, items primarily of cotton and Lycra spandex designed for different lifestyles. Key brands are Speedo, Champion, Lily of France and Danskin.
The active innerwear area features an interactive video in the same vein as those already installed in the store’s junior and contemporary sportswear areas, showing merchandise being worn by women in various scenarios.
Still to be installed — perhaps as early as this week — is an interactive display that will feature several styles of shapers and spoken information in three foreign languages as well as English, in a format similar to an automated teller machine. It’s called The Body Bar by Nancy Ganz, and while the display was introduced by Ganz in the spring, this one is the first to have foreign languages.
“You just press a button to know what a particular shaper does, and my voice tells the customer what she needs,” said Ganz. The three foreign languages are still to be decided.

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