BURBERRY VENTURES CROSSTOWN, FOR NOW
Byline: David Moin
NEW YORK — Taking its global retail strategy one step forward, Burberry last week opened a 14,000-square-foot temporary store at 10 West 57th Street. It’s a dress rehearsal for an even bigger move in fall 2002, to 7-9 East 57th Street, which will have 36,000 square feet, including 21,000 square feet for selling.
Even though it’s temporary, the current site is a relief from the old boutique at 9 East 57th. There, space was tight, with 9,000 square feet on five levels, and traffic got thinner, the higher you went.
By comparison, the new site — with two levels and 40 percent more selling space, tall columns covered in scrim, and a long red “runway” of mannequins down the center — feels almost like a mini-department store. “It’s got good karma. You know this used to be Henri Bendel,” said Rose Marie Bravo, chief executive officer of Burberry. After Bendel’s closed, the site became an Express, then Gucci.
Though Burberry will be there for just over a year, and building costs were not near as much as for a permanent installation, West 57th Street is still a serious play. That’s evidenced by an expanded assortment, the Burberry fashion retrospective in the windows, with the enduring trenchcoat, and a bold decor that deconstructs the familiar Burberry plaid through detailing along the walls and floors and incorporates elements of the New Bond Street flagship in London. There’s a baby collection for the first time, and the first full swimwear collection for women and men. It was the plaid bikini, modeled by Kate Moss, that jump-started the Burberry revival, and brought the average customer age down 30 years, according to Bravo.
Moreover, the tried-and-true doesn’t get neglected. There’s 2,000 square feet of handbags at the entrance, with the most expensive and modern leather styles to the left, and a generous display of more classic, timeless bags right after.
Adding to the youthful appeal, is that within each category, Burberry has created an item business. For example, among the traditional coats and trenches, there’s a quilted coat, priced $315, and among the pants, there is corduroy with a Burberry plaid piping, priced at $215.