Luxury Brands Still Want NYC Addresses
Times may be tough but that isn't stopping luxury brands from expanding their stores in New York City especially at the popular addresses of Fifth and Madison Avenues. The International Herald Tribune reports that on Fifth several new stores will be opening soon including a new flagship for Tommy Hilfiger, Giorgio Armani 40,000-square-foot palace of neutral-toned elegance at 56th Street, and Abercrombie & Fitch taking 25,000 square feet of the Brooks Brothers location at 53rd Street. On Madison, Calvin Klein has expanded and Hermes is opening a new men's store near its existing location.
Why the push on space when the economy in New York is sluggish? For luxury stores having a big store is an important part of their branding, a chance to translate the message of the label into a physical space. Having a large store with a small amount of merchandise highlighted in the store has long been the luxury model whereas stores that sell things with a lower price point often stuff the shelves and racks with merchandise. The IHT article quotes achitect Kenneth Walker, a retail design and branding expert, who says that the empty space subliminally sends a message that the store is luxurious and also the implied scarcity may increase the desire for a product. Brands also seek space on Fifth Avenue because the address alone implies luxury and even when people are shopping less a good location is seen as a long-term investment. The economy may rise and fall but the reputation of New York's famous shopping blocks remains strong for now.