NEW YORK -- Burberry makes a major men's statement at its new flagship store on 57th Street, devoting two floors and one-third of the selling space to men's merchandise.
'Thomas Burberry founded our company in 1856 and men's wear is what we were all about,' said Eugenia Ulasewicz, president of Burberry USA. 'And men's is still really important to us.'
Men's accounts for 8,000 square feet of the 24,000 square feet of selling space and is segmented into several distinct areas. First is the fifth floor where clothing, furnishings and outerwear are found.
'We really wanted to make a luxurious men's area,' she said. 'We conceived it as a New York townhouse,' added store designer Randall Ridless, who noted that all the fixtures and design elements were created especially for the store. This includes decorative fireplaces, white oak or Macassar ebony woods, woven leather rugs, mosaic glass floor tiles and leather walls.
The overall feeling is 'very glamorous, uptown New York,' Ridless said, 'but not intimidating.'
Suits star on the 57th Street side of the store. The unit offers 35 clothing swatches and another 30 variations of sport coats and blazers, according to David Tharp, GMM. There's a made-to-measure desk and a comprehensive formalwear area, complete with kilts and tartan trousers.
Center stage off the elevators is an impressive array of dress shirts and neckwear. 'We're making a major statement,' said Ulasewicz. Forty swatches with different collars are offered. There's also a case offering unique cuff links, bow ties, ascots, pocket squares and other accessories items, including new and antique braces. Ties, gloves, mufflers and watches are also double-exposed on the main floor. 'We wanted to be a great haberdashery,' Tharp said.
On the left side of the floor is the outerwear department where the company hangs some 400 of its signature raincoats on a revolving dry-cleaning rack. 'We don't ever want a customer to come in for a trench and not find his size,' Ulasewicz said.
The outerwear department also features a new area called The Art of the Trench, which is making its debut in New York. The exclusive, made-to-measure service allows customers to choose one of nine different coat models, three shell fabrics, several linings and 'warmers,' overcollars and other details. A special label, an extra belt and a monogram will finish off the package
'It allows customers to build their own coat,' said Tharp. An off-the-rack trench retails for $1,495, the customized version will sell for 20 percent more, he noted, and will be available six weeks after ordering. Although located in the men's department, the service is also available to women.
The fifth floor also features a lounge where weary shoppers can stop for coffee and watch CNBC. 'It's a little oasis,' Ulasewicz said.
The sixth floor offers Burberry Prorsum, Burberry London Collection and Burberry London Sportswear. The far left side of the floor showcases design director Christopher Bailey's runway collection, complete with his signature leather trench coat and fringed scarf. The center offers modern, updated sportswear with slimmer fits and low-rise trousers to appeal to the edgier customer. Next to the 57th Street windows is a warm and cozy room that houses the company's lifestyle sportswear. Here is where shoppers will find knitwear, leathers, casual trousers, Scottish cashmere sweaters and the like.
To make it easier for the men's shopper, the store added an express elevator to take customers directly to the fifth or sixth floor men's departments. Burberry also built a dramatic staircase between the two levels to make shopping easier. 'It's really customer-friendly,' Ulasewicz said. The store, which offers accessories and luggage on the main floor, women's on the second and third floors, and children's and home on the fourth, allows the company to showcase the breadth of its assortment. The old store, located a block away, had 10,000 square feet of selling space and limited the company in what it could offer customers. 'We outgrew the space,' Ulasewicz said.
She characterized the new flagship as a 'big deal,' which represents the evolution of the British luxury brand. This year alone the company opened stores in Knightsbridge in London, Barcelona, Orlando and Coral Gables, Fla., San Jose, Calif., and Soho in New York. The company will debut in Italy in late 2003 with a store in Milan and is seeking space in Madrid.
The new New York City store is expected to outpace the $1,000-a-square-foot the company did at its older unit, or in excess of $24 million a year.