If you want shoppers to hop off line and head to a store instead, you’ve got to give them something to come out for.
So says Saks Fifth Avenue, which unveiled the redesigned main floor of its New York flagship on Tuesday promising it will offer an experience more akin to the dramatic flourishes of the theater than a run-of-the mill trip through a traditional department store.
Having moved the typical first floor offerings of lipstick and perfume to the second floor in May, the store’s new first floor focuses on handbags, tripling the size of that department, and it will initially have more than 100 exclusives. Gloves and other leather goods are being sold there as well.
The space features an escalator designed by renowned architect Rem Koolhaas, guides who will advise shoppers on handbag styles, and personalized services that including monogramming and embossing.
When it comes to luxury retail, “I believe that stores and the physical … (are) theater,” says Marc Metrick, president of Saks Fifth Avenue. “You can’t (just) open your doors with handbags there and win because then you’ll lose to the Internet. We need to create an emotional connection with our customers in a way that only the physical can do.”
Metrick likened the choice between shopping digitally and visiting the evolving Saks flagship to seeing the Broadway phenomenon “Hamilton” in person or merely experiencing online. “It’s like if Hamilton was streaming on Netflix,” he says, “I’d still go see it live on Broadway . . . I’d never say let me just download the soundtrack.”
Shoppers browsing handbags made by luxury designers like Balenciaga, Prada and Valentino, will walk a floor made from imported Italian terrazzo tiles, aisles designed to mirror a fashion runway, and pass metal tables inspired by origami. An atrium connecting the first and the second floors includes a 60′ by 20′ LED screen.
Saks took an innovative step at its Fifth Avenue flagship in 2007 when it debuted its new eighth floor destination, 10022-SHOE , which it touted as so massive, it literally had its own zip code. Parts of that floor were renovated as part of the $250 million store revamping that includes the redesign of the main floor.
Now, in addition to the new main floor which officially opens Friday, Saks opened an out post of the Parisian restaurant L’Avenue dubbed L’Avenue at Saks this week in a space made over by designer Philippe Starck. And its “Vault,” opening downstairs later this year, will be a new jewelry destination.
While the flagship is the company’s showcase, some of the innovations done in the beauty department are being introduced to other Saks stores, including locations in Houston and Miami.
The cosmetics department at Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in Manhattan just got a high-tech facelift. Here are three of its most unique offerings.
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