NEW YORK — Berluti has headed south for the second time.
After nearly seven years at 677 Madison Avenue at 62nd Street, the French luxury brand has moved into a new home at 595 Madison Avenue at 57th Street. The store is located in the Fuller Building, one of Manhattan’s best-known Art Deco skyscrapers that was designed by the architectural firm Walker & Gillette for the Fuller Construction Co. in 1929.
This is the third location in Manhattan for the brand that is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and brings Berluti closer to its sister brands Fendi, Dior, Louis Vuitton and what is soon to be the newest addition, Tiffany, on or near 57th Street.
“Fifty-seventh Street is the hot spot of luxury,” a Berluti North American executive said during a walkthrough on Friday. He said in just the first few hours since opening, there is noticeably more foot traffic than on 62nd Street. And the reopening of the Four Seasons hotel next door is also seen as an advantage for the brand, which counts globe-trotting men as its primary customer.
The store, which had a soft opening on Thursday afternoon, was delayed slightly by the pandemic — from late September to early December — but it had been Berluti’s plan to move before the health crisis hit.
Although the new store is smaller, at 2,100 square feet, the brand believes its layout is better. The 62nd Street store, which opened in the winter of 2014, was 3,200 square feet on two levels and rivaled the Paris flagship in terms of size and services offered. It had replaced a smaller, footwear-focused unit at 971 Madison Avenue and was intended to showcase the brand’s expansion into made-to-measure suits and sportswear.
But although it is much smaller, Berluti said the space allows the brand to showcase its full range on one floor and provide a better showcase for its growing apparel collection. Footwear remains at the heart of the brand, but its small leather goods and ready-to-wear have become increasingly popular, especially in the U.S. The apparel collection accounts for around 20 percent of the brand’s overall sales here. In the 57th Street unit, the apparel is housed in a dedicated department in the rear of the store.
Overall, the space is divided into four areas and has two windows overlooking Madison Avenue, one of which showcases a customized Suzuki moped from the Seventies. Inside the front door is a foosball table created with the brand’s signature canvas fabric along with a case dedicated to the launch of the company’s new Home and Office Objects collection hand-selected by creative director Kris Van Assche, where Berluti commissioned European artisans such as Werkstätte Carl Auböck, San Lorenzo Silversmiths and Simon Hasan to reimagine magazine racks, letter openers, bowls and vases from the Fifties to the Aughts.
Perhaps the most striking design feature of the store is a glass wall framed by reddish-brown Traver onyx marble behind a leather-topped bar made from B-mesh wood, and surrounded by beige and gray wallpaper, beveled wood floors and a black lacquered perimeter frame in a nod to the Fuller building.
The furniture was created in collaboration with Portugal-based studio Oitoemponto, and includes graphic lamps, leather-upholstered sofas and stools, and Picasso gold marble tables. There are also two restored 1960 František Jirák armchairs.
A brown marble console is used to differentiate the areas that are dedicated to the spring 2021 collection of rtw, shoes, bags and small leather goods collection. There’s also a travel area with smart objects, cases and leather goods.
The spokesman said the store sports a design not found anywhere else and is intended to honor New York City and its Art Deco past. Care was taken to design the location with an eye toward blending the brand’s heritage with a modern aesthetic, and it is brighter and more welcoming that the former location, which was more like a gentlemen’s club. Exclusive to this store is a special football covered in the brand’s canvas print that was introduced during the winter 2020 show and features the Berluti logo and Scritto motif stamped over a black background with insets of gray.
“In an era where people can have access to all the products from their living room through e-commerce, you need to surprise them and give them a unique experience to come to visit the stores, and that is what we hope to accomplish here,” the executive said.
In terms of product, in addition to the off-the-rack footwear and apparel, customers have the option to special order pieces that will be created in the brand’s European workshops or create entirely bespoke items. For bespoke footwear, orders will be fulfilled in seven to nine months after several fittings and meetings between the client and the craftsmen; suits take around six months. Bespoke footwear starts at $6,000, about three times that of the average off-the-rack shoe. Ditto for suits.
This marks Berluti’s fifth U.S. store — the brand operates more than 50 boutiques around the world — joining units in the Miami Design District, the Shops at Crystals in Las Vegas and in Beverly Hills and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif. The executive said there are no immediate plans to add other stores here right now and the brand will work to market and support this new flagship.
“We want to surprise people,” the executive said, “and show that we’re more than just a shoe brand.”
Berluti was founded in Paris in 1895 and built its reputation as a shoemaker. The brand expanded into leather goods in 2005 and apparel in 2011. It operates workshops in its home city to produce bespoke products in every category.