It’s been a whirlwind few days for Todd Snyder.
The designer opened the doors to his first Midtown store in Rockefeller Center on Friday; will debut his first store outside New York in Greenwich, Conn., on Monday, and is launching his collaboration with J. Press.
“This is huge for us,” Snyder said as he took the first look at the 3,500-square-foot Rockefeller Center store at 620 Fifth Avenue, the promenade that leads to the storied ice rink and Christmas tree. The store also has an entrance on 50th Street.
“We’re calling this a work-in-progress pop-up,” the designer explained as he pointed to the scaffolding and boxes that are being used as design elements within the space. “We took material from construction sites and turned them into a store,” he said. The fitting rooms sport military fabrics and merchandise is displayed on plywood shelves and pieces of the scaffolding.
“We’re planning to have this open through the holidays so we can be part of the ceremonies and the tree lighting and help bring back New York,” he said. “Then [the store] will be shut down and will reopen in March.” When it is completed, it will feature design elements that have become signature to Snyder including camouflage and utility-inspired furniture with modular, minimal fixtures along with midcentury furnishings and artwork by Ryan McMenamy.
The first iteration of the store — one of several additions to the iconic New York City shopping and entertainment hub — will focus on seasonal gifts such as Snyder’s signature suede Dylan jackets, his top outerwear pieces including topcoats, peacoats and chore coats, and cashmere suits. The shop also offers a curated assortment of some of Snyder’s favorite third-party brands including Aesop and DS & Durga body care products, Rototo socks, Alden and Birkenstock shoes and Joshua Ellis scarves. It will also sell his popular collection with L.L. Bean, as well as collaboration product with Champion and others.
“It’s a well-edited assortment of our best,” he said.
The store will offer same-day delivery in New York City, as well as alterations and tailoring services and private shopping appointments.
Snyder said he was approached by Jenna Lyons, a former colleague at J. Crew who is working with Rockefeller Center to reimagine the retail mix. When he saw the other retailers and restaurants who have signed on — Kule, Eva Fahren, Lingua Franca, contemporary bistro Frenchette and others — “we knew we had to be here,” he said. Rather than the big, nationally known names, these smaller boutiques will offer tourists and New York natives alike a sense of discovery. “It’s more like downtown and Brooklyn in Midtown,” Snyder said.
That store will be followed up by Snyder’s first unit outside of New York, a 1,500-square-foot store at 321 Greenwich Avenue, the main shopping street of the tony Connecticut town.
Snyder said his team had been “planning this for the last couple of months, and it was just the right place at the right time.”
The Greenwich store is expected to be similar to a shop he operates in East Hampton, N.Y., and is part of his unique take on retailing.
“We want to create a hub and a spoke,” he said, or a flagship that offers “the world of Todd Snyder,” and smaller “experience” boutiques that are intended to be “discovery points for customers to find out who we are.”
In New York, the flagship is his 5,000-square-foot store on 26th Street in the Madison Park neighborhood that offers his complete collection, other complementary brands as well as a barber shop, tailor and café.
“We want to use retail stores as the mechanism to convert customers to our brand,” he explained. That’s especially true of Rockefeller Center which is perhaps the most visited location in the city, especially during the holidays. “There are a lot of eyeballs here,” he said, “and an opportunity to hit a lot of people at the same time.”
Looking ahead, the plan is to add stores in other major cities around the U.S. in short order. First up will be Los Angeles, which Snyder said is the brand’s second biggest market, as well as Boston, Chicago and Miami.
“We’re starting to build an infrastructure now that will increase customers online — that’s how I look at retail, not as a revenue stream but as a way to get the word out and help people know who you are. It used to be getting your line into a good store, taking an ad in a magazine and on a billboard, but not anymore.”
Digital represents 85 percent of Snyder’s sales and it will also be the engine that helps him mark his mark internationally, which is also in the cards.
Snyder, who has become known for his all-American aesthetic infused with a modern, urban energy, celebrated his 10th anniversary in business this year. The brand was purchased by American Eagle Outfitters in 2015 for $11 million and Snyder opened his first store under the new ownership, in 2016 in Madison Park. He followed that with the Liquor Store location in TriBeCa in 2019, and a permanent shop in East Hampton this summer.
Even with the two store openings, Snyder is not turning his back on his popular collaborations, which include Todd Snyder x J. Press. The collection, which launches today, consists of 48 items and offers modern interpretations of Ivy League classics such as a sack suit, a chino, a duffle coat, a Harris tweed blazer, and oxford shirt, as well as the Shaggy Dog, the brand’s signature Shetland sweater that was a favorite of both President John F. Kennedy and actor Cary Grant.
Snyder’s updates on these classics include the sack suit in tweeds, stripes and a yellow and black tartan; the Shaggy Dog in bold colors including orange, pistachio and granite; the oxford shirt in a distressed finish, and the classic duffle coat in an orange camouflage pattern. Ivy League references including chenille patches and J. Press’s bulldog mascot are also incorporated throughout the collection.
“J. Press has always been a little under the radar. You had to be in the know to know J. Press,” Snyder said. “So, we were excited to partner with them and take some of their classics and give them a little attitude. We also have taken some of our more modern pieces like our chore coat, and then ‘J. Press-ified’ them by designing them in Harris tweed.”
“The collection is called Retake Ivy,” Snyder said, adding that as an American designer, he was eager to retell the story of Ivy League through a modern lens. “They invented a lot of things and this is my opportunity to tell my own story.” The collection will be available exclusively Snyder’s website and Madison Park store.
J. Press was founded in 1908 by Latvian immigrant Jacobi Press, who opened a tailor shop in New Haven, Conn. It remained in the same family until 1986 when it was sold to Onward Kashiyama of Japan.
Snyder also revealed he will be returning to the New York Fashion Week calendar in February. “I’m going to do a show,” he said. “I think it’s important to put a stake in the ground and say, ‘We’re New York, we’re back and we’re men’s wear.’” Although the details and location still have to be worked out, Snyder said the show will help him “come out a little more loud.”