Best Jewelry Line
Each of the Readers' Choice nominees for Best Jewelry Line is a leader in the industry. One is not only known for its signature jewelry, but also for the blue box that it comes in. Another is known for its handcrafted pieces, but it is also known for its many innovations. Another nominee is a newer designer on the scene who is inspired by Florentine jewelry-making, but also astronomy, celestial, mythological and astrological influences. Another nominee is synonymous with glamour and fame and has ties to some of the world's most famous jewels. Finally, there's a nominee known for the panache of its founder, as well as its vast collection of the world's finest diamonds.
Temple St. Clair
Tiffany & Co.
Van Cleef & Arpels
Best Watch Line
The Readers' Choice for the Best Watch Line nominees include a perennially favored brand among the watch-loving elite that is known for making the most complex wrist watch in the world. Another nominee is known for its functionally-themed luxury sport watches. The third nominee, while an historic brand with almost 200 years of heritage, is known for being a forward focused luxury watch maker of the future. A fourth nominee is perhaps the best-known luxury watch brand in the world, with a stellar reputation to match. Lastly, there's a watchmaker that epitomizes Swiss haute horology with its modern classics and technical innovation.
Best Leathergoods Line
The Readers' Choice for the Best Leathergoods Line for a Luxist Award include award-winning brands from France, Italy and London. One started out making equestrian equipment in 1837, and still makes its goods by hand; some of its handbags are so coveted, there's a two-year long wait list to buy one. Another was started in London by a former fashion editor who partnered with a couture shoe maker to create a company now synonymous with the "red carpet". The third nominee is known for its clean lines and simple classic color palettes while the fourth is a global force of tradition and innovation. And finally, the last nominee epitomizes luxury with its delectable designer bags and vaunted luggage--some of which command five figure prices.
Best Department Store/Boutique
Nominees for Readers' Choice for Best Department Store/Boutique include one based in London that has no fewer than 330 different departments, a staff of 5,000 from 50 different countries and is visited by as many as 300,000 people on a single day. Another, with roots in Texas, is known for its superior customer service, in addition to its luxury merchandise, including some of the world's most extravagant items. One New York-based store has a shoe department that is so large, it was given its own zip code. Another Manhattan-based store specializes in hard-to-find international designers, many of which it will help launch into fame. Lastly, there's an upstart from London that is so cutting-edge and up-to-date, it launches 300 new styles on a weekly basis.
Barneys New York
Saks Fifth Avenue
Best Clothing Designer
Readers' Choice nominees for Best Clothing Designer are award-winning fashion designers from Italy, England, France and the United States. One was started by a wunderkind who was named chief designer of one of the most respected fashion houses when he was still in his 20's. Another has been one of the leading names in fashion for nearly 100 years. A third nominee, known for its timeless style, has outfitted First Ladies on both sides of the aisle for decades while the fourth is famed for its understated elegance. The final nominee is synonymous with high fashion though its roots are in luggage and leather goods.
Oscar de la Renta
Best Jewelry Line
A bastion of classic New York grandeur, Saks Fifth Avenue's latest accolade is a nomination for the Luxist Readers' Choice Award for Best Department Store. The century-old purveyor of luxury goods boasts 53 stores in 25 states, as well as a handful of foreign franchise stores. The New York flagship's shoe department is so large that it has its own zipcode.
That same store opened in 1924 under the supervision of owners Andrew Saks and Bernard Gimbel. Within five years, Saks added stores in Palm Beach, Fla; Southampton, N.Y.; and Chicago. Openings followed in West Coast locations like Beverly Hills, Calif., and by 1940, Saks was operating ten stores across the country.
Though the New York flagship's location on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 49th Streets was a residential neighborhood when it opened, the area was transformed into Manhattan's midtown business district by the middle
of the 20th Century. Over the years, Saks' sumptuous window displays became a crucial cog of the Big Apple experience, especially during the holidays. Located next to St. Patrick's cathedral and Rockefeller Center, and only a few blocks from other major attractions like Times Square and Central Park, it's a convenient shopping destination for tourists and New Yorkers alike.
In 1998, Saks was acquired by department store holding company Proffitt's, Inc., which subsequently changed its name to Saks Incorporated. The 2000s brought a handful of franchise locations abroad, including the most recent in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a year ago. Today, the company has 53 stores throughout 25 states.
Cast your vote for the Readers' Choice Awards at http://www.luxist.com/awards-vote/accessories-awards.
Gallery: More from Saks Fifth Avenue
Filed under: Cosmetics and Fragrance
Filed under: Apparel
It looks like luxury retail is getting ready for a comeback. Shoppers in enviable tax brackets are doing a better job of prying their wallets open, at least if you can believe their stock prices. Tiffany, Saks and Nordstrom all showed signs of progress heading into Black Friday, meaning that investors were willing to bet on the wealthy.
Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, explained to USA Today, "We're resting our (upbeat outlook) on the upper-income consumer, who seems to be holding up pretty well." This group, he continued, "is where the vast majority of spending in this country is done."
Research firm Penn Schoen Berland weighed in with agreement: "Well-to-do Americans are feeling much less of a crunch." Households with incomes of greater than $70,000 a year, the firm found, planned to amp up their holiday spending by 27 percent this year. Those with incomes below $40,000 are cutting their holiday joy by 14 percent.
While the bargain hunters turn to the discount retailers, which are expected to do well this year, look for the higher-income consumers to spend more at places like Williams-Sonoma and other mid-range to upscale retail establishments.
So, with deeper pockets starting to open this year, it looks like the wealthy will turn last year's holiday bust around. A good holiday season for Saks shows that those with the bucks are starting to open up, and recoveries start at the top.
Saks Fifth Avenue has a large collection of designer baby satchels for the fashion forward mama ranging from $158 to $1,100. These bags don't look like any ordinary diaper bag and they definitely don't portray any pastel colored or yellow ducky themes. They are sophisticated yet functional and will blend into everyday life without shouting 'Baby on Board'! Peruse the gallery to select a fantastic baby bag for some lucky mom you know.
Gallery: Saks' Designer Baby Bags
For those still out shopping last winter, department stores represented a rare opportunity, tons of inventory marked deeply down. Don't expect that magic to happen again. More and more stores are announcing that they are reducing inventory so as not to be left holding the bag if shoppers fail to show up. Saks CEO, Stephen Sadove tells Bloomberg that "across the board you are going to find less of the sizes, less of the availability in almost all of the categories." He also says that markdowns won't be as dramatic as they were last year. While in previous years the buzzword was "masstige" offering luxury for everyone now Sadove says that "luxury has always been about scarcity."
The ripple effect of department stores cutting back inventory has already made it increasingly hard for some designer labels to survive. Neiman Marcus and Saks have both said they are cutting back on lines that don't sell well and linger on the racks. And the recession also seems to be stifling creativity a bit. Stores are looking for staples, classics and safe bets to stock their stores. The avant-garde, trendy and daring is too risky if there are fears that it won't sell. Brands are making one or two versions of a particular style rather than a wider range. Retail sales are expected to rise slightly by the end of this year but it won't be enough to make up for last year's sharp losses.
The obvious answer is sales and as Fashion Week Daily reports Saks Fifth Avenue is already selling Spring 2009 merchandise at 40 percent off and Barneys is set to follow suit next week. The depth of the discount is no surprise. Since the screech-to-a-stop holiday season last year department stores have been sawing away at prices to keep people shopping. In fact, at this point one has to wonder if 40 percent is even enough to get people excited. NY Mag's The Cut said, "call us when they hit 75 percent." The bright spot for stores is that they were better prepared for Spring 09 than they were for Fall/Winter 08 so there is less inventory to get rid of which does mean the discounts probably won't run as deep.
Filed under: Handbags
If you think you know Christian Dior, you're probably surprised. With its unusual shape, gothic buckles, and innovative texture, this purse seems to come from a whole new Dior genre!
Perhaps its a 1980s Vivienne Westwood inspiration -- the 80s is definitely back. In any case, this 20"W X 11"H X 4"D purse is crafted from pebble leather and croc-textured leather, giving it a truly unique look. The adjustable buckle strap, grommet and buckle details, and bold black shape make it truly anomalous.
That, along with the durable nylon lining and soft leather exterior make this a perfect bag for a night of rock and roll and unexpected excitement. The phrase "buckle up" comes to mind ...
The Dior Two-Textured Leather Satchel is available from Saks Fifth Avenue for $2,950.
I mentioned back in November that Saks Fifth Avenue would be cutting capital spending in 2009. We are a few weeks in to the year and Saks Inc. has decided to cut about 1,100 corporate and store positions, which represents nine percent of its total workforce. The company has also taken away merit-based wage increases this year for all employees and suspended 401(k) matching. Saks will also be reducing inventory and trimming other expenses wherever they can.
The reason for all these cuts is the lack on consumer spending. Bloomberg quotes Pete Hastings, a fixed-income analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co. who says that this may only be the beginning of department store cutbacks. After the worst holiday season in around 40 years consumers haven't rushed into the stores in January. Saks posted a 20 percent sales decline in December even after major markdowns on their goods.
Neiman Marcus will also be making some similar changes. The company announced it plans to cut 375 jobs, or 2.3 percent of its workforce a response to their own December slump which saw a 28 percent drop in sales at stores open at least a year.
Filed under: Apparel
Known for its high-end collection of designers like Peter Som, Stella McCartney and Thakoon, the shop catered to celebs including Kate Hudson and many of LA's well-known tastemakers.
Owner Tracey Ross lamented that it has become "impossible to compete" when mega-retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue are marking down merchandise to 80% off retail.
Gallery: Brands in Trouble
'Tis the season for blankets of snow and frosted branches, ski trips and furry boots, and new handbags to match the winter white theme. Whether you are shopping at Saks, Bergdorfs, Nordstroms, Neimans or Barneys there are clean, colorless clutches, totes and hobos to suit the season. Here are a few of my favorites inspired by the holiday tune, 'White Christmas' that are chic, sophisticated and frosty including the Nablak Vernice Tote from Prada pictured above.
- Coach's Op Art Sabrina - $298 at Nordstroms
- Bottega Veneta's Medium Veneta Hobo - $1,550 at Barneys
- Yves Saint Laurent Medium Calypso Bag - $2,095 at Saks
- Dolce and Gabbana's Washed Leather Dome - $2,125 at Bergdorfs
- Escada Ostrich Shoulder Bag, Small - $3,990 at Neimans
Gallery: 'White Christmas' Handbags
We've already highlighted Swarovski's Annual Edition Ornament for 2008 but the luxury-minded shopper may have more sparkling needs in the ornament department. This iconic crystal company is offering sixteen other options for glamorous gifts or tree bling at your own home. Snowflakes are the most common design but angels, trees, stars and stockings with a touch of tasteful color will also ring in the holiday season beautifully. Even babies aren't forgotten with the pacifier- or duckie-shaped ornaments to commemorate a first holiday. Faberge's ornaments, available at Neiman Marcus, showcase a familiar egg-shape of mouth-blown glass with delicately handpainted designs. Jay Strongwater's Musical Ornaments at Saks add a sense of frivolity to your tree with a touch of Swarovski bling too. And Bergdorf Goodman is selling L'Objet's Pagoda Ornament which is14K gold-plated and adorned in freshwater pearls and, again, Swarovski Crystals.
A bejeweled tree is bound to make quite a statement during your holiday gathering and an even bigger impression as a gift.
Gallery: Premiere Ornaments
Filed under: Apparel
You almost expect a Prada-clad shopgirl to announce a blue light special in aisle 8. Except you're at Bergdorf Goodman, and they don't do that there. And yet, over the weekend Madison Avenue Spy reported that Bergdorf would slash prices to 70% off, likely to compete with Saks who'd gone that far the week before.
Those on Barney's email list learned this morning that the store would go to 60% off retail. And we're only a week into December.
According to the NY Times, the recent sales have induced a bit of a frenzy in Manhattan, where lizard-skin handbags are tossed together into bargain-bin like displays a la Wal-Mart...aisle 8.
Gallery: Luxury at a Discount
As the holiday season looms ever closer, department stores are hoping against hope for a return to spending exuberance. And they will need the numbers. Department store operator Saks Fifth Avenue announced a wider-than-expected quarterly net loss today as the economic slowdown has now reached the more upscale shopper. The company reports that its net loss nearly doubled to $42.8 million, or 31 cents per share as compared to $21.6 million or 14 cents per share, a year earlier. Quarterly net sales fell to $698.0 million from $796.1 million a year ago. The company is planning cut its capital spending in 2009, from around $125 million to $75 million and is closing its Club Libby Lu stores that cater to young girls. The store will likely cut back on the more risky, trendy items and focus on classics that are more likely to sell.
Filed under: Auctions
Just before the holidays a premiere partnership between Mercedes Benz and Saks Fifth Avenue will benefit St. Jude Children's Hospital with an extraordinary item. The Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren Roadster, with a fancy new metallic finish making it a true one-of-a-kind, will be featured in the Saks Holiday Catalog and auctioned off on November 20th. All proceeds over the $529, 500 price tag will provide important funds to help young ones fighting cancer at this famous philanthropic hospital. You can pre-register for this worthy cause as early as November 1st online at MBUSA.com and really make a charitable difference this holiday season while gaining a truly superb vehicle for yourself.