NEW YORK — Dolce & Gabbana commanded the attention of New York’s fashion arbiters for two full days last week, opening its first men’s store in the city in tandem with the unveiling of its remodeled women’s flagship next door, and launching a new men’s fragrance, The One for Men—all with characteristic fanfare.
But those who have come to expect palatial flagships filled with fantastic imagery and elaborately styled mannequins were surprised to find something considerably more grounded and intimate, if the latter applies to 3,500 square feet of selling space.
“This is what I want for men,” said Stefano Gabbana. “It’s kind of classic, with rich materials, not too aggressive. You feel comfortable. It’s intimate. It’s the New York mood now, yes? All the clubs and restaurants now are private, intimate.”
While in New York, the design duo hit the exclusive watering holes favored by the fashion crowd these days, including the Gramercy Park Hotel rooftop, The Box and Beatrice Inn. “I was surprised. I went to Socialista and it’s like in Europe—small, private, very interesting,” Gabbana said.
Likewise, the moody and dimly lit store at 825-827 Madison Avenue is more absorbing than imposing, with a layout like the ultimate walk-in closet. A grand gesture, a massive Murano glass chandelier, greets visitors at street level. From there, shoppers are quickly drawn upstairs, where the floor branches into smaller nooks, which are stocked by category for the most part. Shirts, underwear, sportswear, and fine suits and tuxes have their own rooms. There is a wall of sneakers, another wall for denim (meticulously stacked by color), and an area for leatherwear and accessories, although the latter is spread throughout the store.
The collection in-store was spring, showing impressive speed to market.
Windows are draped in ropes of silver chain links. Shelves support block-lettered “DG” logos, rendered as sleek sculptures. Every wall, shelf and display case gleams with high-gloss lacquered wood, mirror-finished stainless steel or glass.
More than just a dedicated space for the house’s male customers, the store is a statement of Dolce & Gabbana’s commitment to men’s wear—a message that registered clearly with key U.S. wholesale partners. A who’s who of top U.S. men’s fashion buyers took note of the retail and merchandising strategy on show. In addition, the store is a testament to the U.S. men’s market’s receptivity to the house and to European fashion in general.
Gabbana and design partner Domenico Dolce both reflected on the cumbersome special considerations they used to make for the U.S. market—their attempts to cater to huskier physiques and less adventurous tastes. Not any longer.
“Basta, this is Dolce & Gabbana,” said Dolce. He elaborated on today’s customer, an international sort who is informed by travel and technology, and knows what the brand represents—slim fits, unabashed sexiness, urban sophistication.
“Now it’s exactly the same all over the world,” agreed Gabbana. “That’s a big change for the business and for the USA.”
Once considered primarily a women’s fashion house, Dolce & Gabbana has methodically closed the sales gap and continues to gain stature as a men’s company with both its Dolce & Gabbana and D&G lines. “It’s a very beautiful time for fashion, and for men’s fashion it’s the best,” said Dolce.
Dolce & Gabbana invested 37 million euros, or $47.4 million, to build four men’s-only stores in Milan, Paris, Los Angeles and New York, said Cristiana Ruella, managing director of the privately held company.
“The men’s store is an indirect way to show retail partners, both department and specialty stores, how much Dolce & Gabbana believes in men’s wear,” Ruella said.
A London store is next in the pipeline.