At Saks Fifth Avenue, there’s no business like the shoe business.
The first freestanding Saks Fifth Avenue shoe store — modeled after the 10022-Shoe department, which is at the Manhattan flagship and replicated in 19 other Saks locations — will open in Greenwich, Conn., in fall 2016, WWD has learned.
The 14,000-square-foot Greenwich site, at 20 East Elm Street and around the block from the existing Saks Fifth Avenue women’s-only store on Greenwich Avenue, will include around 11,000 square feet for selling and 3,000 square feet for storage. The as-yet-to-be-named Saks shoe store will offer only women’s shoes; the existing Greenwich unit will continue to sell women’s apparel, accessories and beauty and will no longer stock women’s shoes.
“We stand for footwear. We are dominant in the business,” Marc Metrick, the president of Saks Fifth Avenue, said in an interview. “This gives us the opportunity from a space standpoint to make the assortment a lot more powerful.” He said it was too soon to discuss the vendor lineup.
“This is not just a shoe story,” Metrick added. “Greenwich is a very strong market for Saks. This is going to unlock an underexploited volume opportunity in ready-to-wear,” at the existing Saks store in Greenwich, since about 4,000 square feet of space will be freed up for more ready-to-wear by relocating shoes to the new store. Urban Outfitters previously occupied the site that Saks is taking.
Though Metrick and his team continue to work to come up with a name for the shoe store, “the concept will certainly be 10022-Shoe,” he said. “It will feel like a grand version of what you see in our stores.” The environment will feel “open, fun and interactive,” and furnished with seating to encourage socializing and easily noticing what styles shoppers are selecting.
In 2007, Saks one-upped the competition by unveiling its 10022-Shoe concept on the eighth level of its Manhattan flagship, doubling the number of shoes and beefing up the big brands like Prada and Gucci while providing room for niche brands. Among Manhattan’s major stores, Saks has become a favored destination for designer shoes. It’s a highly productive department at the store, said to be surpassed only by the main floor for beauty and accessories.
The 10022-Shoe format is credited with triggering Manhattan’s “shoe wars” in which Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Barneys New York and Bloomingdale’s have each tried to outdo the other, by opening bigger shoe floors with larger assortments and greater amenities. Saks, for example, converted one elevator to an express lift right to the eighth floor. Saks also added technology so associates could find a size or style not available at the flagship at another store in the luxury chain. There’s a VIP room for private shopping with a dressing room where items from all over the store can be tried on and shoe runners grab pairs from storage. Plus, there’s a shoe-repair service.
The 10022-Shoe format involves a commitment to a defined number of core brands with a combination of depth and breadth of product, a flow of new brands, and furnishings, such as large settees, for comfort, socializing and checking out what people are trying on. In a clever marketing ploy, Saks and its marketing team got the U.S. Postal Service to assign the shoe floor its own zip code. The shoe floor at the Saks flagship further benefits from being adjacent to the popular Café SFA cafe.
Years after 10022-Shoe debuted, Macy’s unveiled its own shoe floor, with greater space than Saks and well-defined departments for different types of shoes, from evening heels to ath-leisure to clearance. Barneys also cobbled together a new shoe floor integrating women’s and men’s styles.
Battling back against the mounting competition, 10022-Shoe at the Saks flagship five years after its debut expanded from its original 22,000 square feet to 32,150 square feet, with 16,650 square feet for selling and 15,500 square feet for storage. The expansion brought the entire women’s shoe assortment together — designer; wear, which is bridge; contemporary; day, and evening — with contemporary shoes relocating from five to a designated area on eight east of the escalators where gifts were housed.
Key brands on the 10022-Shoe floor have included Jimmy Choo, Alexandre Birman, Nicholas Kirkwood, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, Giuseppe Zanotti, Brian Atwood, Valentino, Alexander McQueen, Fendi, Gucci, Roger Vivier, Salvatore Ferragamo, Chloé and Tod’s.
Metrick said developing a shoe store doesn’t imply creating additional specialty formats in the future. “I don’t see us doing this with other categories,” he said. “This offers us a unique opportunity.” Saks does have a few men’s-only stores, including units in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The shoe format could be cloned. “We are definitely looking at [Greenwich] as a learning experience. I do believe this will not be our only one,” Metrick said.