Friday, April 8, 2011

J.Crew' Fifth Avenue Store {amazing!}

A big "thanks!" to Jessica who shared the following article from WWD (click here to read in its entirety):
J. Crew Goes Bigger on Fifth Avenue
By Sharon Edelson
April 8, 2011

J. Crew’s newly expanded and remodeled flagship at 91 Fifth Avenue here is described by a long list of superlatives. It’s the largest store in the chain, having grown to 20,800 square feet from 15,000 square feet. According to sources, sales are expected to exceed $1,100 to $1,200 a square foot.

The location, near 17th Street, is also J.Crew’s first three-level store and the first to house men’s, women’s and Crewcuts, its children’s brand, under the same roof. (A unit at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., offers the three businesses, but in adjoining stores with separate entrances.) The flagship boasts the chain’s first proper shoe and handbag departments, and the first men’s and women’s suit areas. It also has the first dedicated area for personal shopping, a lounge with private dressing rooms off the main floor. Home delivery and complementary “house calls” will be coordinated from the store.

With a lighter and more open design, the store’s decor is a nod to a mid-century modern sensibility with art and objects from the Thirties to the Sixties, such as Bradley Hughes’ “Lucille” lighting fixtures and a curated art collection. There’s also an installation on the wall of hundreds of gloves that form an abstract bird’s wing and a neon legend behind the cash wrap: “Take Me (I’m Yours)” that could be a Barbara Kruger work. Throughout the store, industrial wire and glass panels are used to frame areas, create alcoves or delineate the entrance to a new department.

“We want to make sure each store speaks to its environment,” said Jenna Lyons, J.Crew’s president and executive creative director. “Each store reflects the neighborhood it’s in. Cookie cutter stores are not creative or conducive to people shopping. There’s a vibe and energy you always feel in any good store.”

“It articulates in a very clear and concise and emotional way what J.Crew is,” said chairman and chief executive officer Millard “Mickey” Drexler, who visited the store on Tuesday afternoon for a walk-through with his team. “It’s about a store that gives the merchandise an environment and connects emotionally with customers. We’ve been able to articulate businesses here that hadn’t presented well [elsewhere]. The store has everything we’ve had but [the store design] makes it easier to see and feel. This has been one of our landmark stores for a long time.”

The store, which caters to office workers and residents during the week and is a destination for tourists on weekends, opened in 1996.

Nothing escapes Drexler’s keenly observed eye. During the store visit, he saw something that reinforced the idea that the brand is appealing to more affluent shoppers. “This, I love to see,” he announced in the shoe department. “Chanel shoes on a customer.” Earlier that day, when Drexler stopped by the new Crewcuts department on the second floor, a half-dozen strollers deposited near the entrance caught his attention. “I was on the store loudspeaker saying, ‘We need a stroller parking lot,’” he said.

Drexler chatted up employees and consumers alike, eliciting their opinions on anything and everything. He insisted that some new business ideas come from customers. A shopper recently asked him why J. Crew doesn’t make baby and layette products. “We’re working on it, –ish,” he said.

The women’s collection on the main floor features classic J.Crew items: Italian cashmere, wear to work suiting and the higher priced J.Crew Collection displayed in raw wood fixtures with an emphasis on wardrobing. There’s an expanded selection of new and vintage jewelry. A distressed Chesterfield sofa, raw birch floors and antique carpets define the second floor shoe lounge, which has a Venetian dandelion chandelier hanging overhead. Niches off the lounge create environments for handbags.

“We’ve always had a very well developed men’s business in this neighborhood,” said Drexler. “We hope it will be even more productive.”

The third floor men’s department was inspired by turn-of-the-century New York City garment factories. There’s oak flooring, a grid of pendant light fixtures and other masculine touches such as portals and transoms made from blackened steel and antique glass wire to define the shops for suiting, denim and shirting. In Good Company third-party partnerships and collaborations include Belstaff for leather bomber jackets and Quoddy of Maine for artisan moccasins, among others.
The store sounds amazing! The next time I am in New York City, I am definitely stopping in!

What are your thoughts on the remodeled Fifth Avenue Store? Do you like how the store looks (from the images)? Will you be planning a visit anytime soon? If so, please share! :)

27 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting! If I ever go to NYC you can bet I'm going to stop in at the store...and stay there for a while ;)

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  2. I love it. It's brighter and friendlier. The product layout is much better, with well-selected vignettes that make it easy to put together outfits. I did a personal shopping session there and the lounge is fantastic.

    I do have one request -- more shoes! There's a shoe department and I think there were maybe 9 styles to choose from. J.Crew carries so many more than that. It's very annoying to come to one of the flagship stores looking for an item only to discover they don't carry it there. If it's truly flagship, they should have it all.

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  3. Thanks for posting. I'll be in NYC this summer. The Crew 5th Ave, and the collection stores on the top of my (long) list for shopping destinations.

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  4. Can't wait to go and check it out. I haven't been there since the renovation so I am really excited.
    I love the stores that carry both women and Crewcuts, it makes it easier, especially when they are having promotions like the current one with a high minimum. Just wondering if there is a sale area already ;-)

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  5. I will definitely visit if I make it to NYC. Thanks for the great post! :)

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  6. This used to be "my" store when I lived in NYC two years ago. So excited to stop by and see it when I visit. It sounds fabulous.

    But, I'm confused about its claim to be the first store to have men's, women's, and children's under one roof - the SoHo store has all of those, and so does my store in Mill Valley, CA. ???

    Mickey, hurry up with the Crewcuts baby clothes, my baby is 5 months now!!

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  7. What is the navy tee with white stripes the mannequin on the right is wearing?

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  8. It's funny, that last photo looks EXACTLY like the front room display in most Banana Republic stores.

    Sometimes I wish J.Crew was a bit more creative with their displays!

    The store does seem to be quite a mecca though. Would love to visit as the Buffalo NY one closest to me is absolutely TINY!

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  9. Looks great but I will probably never shop there because we have no tax on clothes and shoes in NJ. At to clarify, Paramus store has technically two entrances (for men and women dept) but the stores are connected and Crewcuts is in between with no separate entrance. You can pay at any register and combine purchases. We also get everything about a month before rollout (which I would think would be the same in the flagship store but I am not sure).
    There is quite a good selection of shoes, suiting and collection items but of course I wish they would carry everything...

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  10. Ooooooo, so lovely! You know I'll be stopping in next time I'm in NYC. I always loved that location but the store was always so tiny!

    Columbus Circle was my fave NY store up until now, followed by the one in Soho ... both are huge and have big sale sections, as does the Park Ave. store, but it's like the retail version of a ranch home.

    There's just something I prefer about the multi-level stores. They feel so roomy.

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  11. ajc, that is really good to know. I just got socked with tax on something I bought at the B&M today -- I was shocked at how much it can affect event a small bill! urgh.

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  12. I think the store is beautiful and look forward to visiting. I will say though that I wondered a bit about the statement from Mr Drexler that he may be assessing customers based on their shoes ("This I love to see...Chanel shoes on a customer")
    I mean, so would he judge a customer that was shopping in running shoes like I sometimes do (or I don't know Payless shoes) as being less desirable and less likely to spend...? Of course all brands like to attract affluent customers who are likely to have more disposable income, but realistically it would seem that that in making a comment like that he risks offending some people....also, wealthy people don't all buy Chanel shoes, and similarly less wealthy splurge on expensive shoes.

    Know that I like J.Crew and Drexler. I am not trying to start any controversy, just musing and noting that I was struck by the comment...

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  13. Minnie, that comment was unhappy I agree (unless the journalist extrapolated). I think that Mickey in general is a little bit delusional, he would love to be CEO of a luxe brand like Chanel or Vuitton but he is "only" the CEO of a mall brand after all.

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  14. Can't wait to visit when I am in NYC, thanks for sharing the info and photos.

    Minnie, the Chanel shoes comment made me laugh. I'm sure whatever size Chanel shoes Mickey is wearing, they fit perfectly in his mouth. :P

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  15. "Chanel shoes on a customer" :) The store looks beautiful! But it's not intimidating. The J Crew people are brilliant, they know just what we want. No wonder I stalk their web site 100 times per day. :)

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  16. Ema and xoxo. Thanks :) Seems like you were sort of laughing like I was. And Ema, that is funny - I hadn't actually thought of that but maybe you are right, Mickey D has delusions of grandeur (he he:). xoxo, Chanel foot in mouth - perfect. I guess when I go I'll be sure to wear my most expensive shoes. With my workout pants... :)

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  17. i've been to the renovated first floor, but haven't seen the top 2 floors yet..but if they did as nice a renovation job on the ground floor, it's sure to please!
    like roxy said, it's light and airy and easy to navigate. and of course, i love one-stop shopping for my whole family! soho used to house all 3, but menswear moved a few blocks away a couple of yrs ago.

    looking fwd to checking out the rest of the renovation!

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  18. Minnie, I don't think Drexler was implying anything about the shoppers who aren't wearing expensive footwear, just that it's a good sign to see at least one customer wearing it because it tells them that people with significant expendable cash are shopping there. (Unless Chanel shoes woman found hers in a dumpster!)

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  19. I think Mickey meant he likes that people are mixing high/low. JMO of course.

    But I'm sure the businessman in him was also thinking CHA-CHING! :)

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  20. We were just talking about going to NYC last night. Now I REALLY want to go.
    Looks amazing in the photos. We are finally getting a store in Toronto this year, so they say, but I'm sure it will pale in comparison, they are putting it in a mall rather than building one downtown.
    Ema be sure to let us know how you like it!

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  21. Are there no B&Ms in Canada?? There's a gold mine of customers there! Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver (they probably cross over the border), and so many other cities. Dani, hopefully the mall store will do so well they'll open another downtown.

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  22. Tamara we have no stores up here! Can you believe it? This is why the UPS man and I have a long-term relationship lol.
    When I travel to the US to see my family it's so exciting to actually be in a store!

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  23. I'm thrilled for the Canucks that you'll have a JC B&M soon! The shipping charges to Canada are just outrageous. And now you can try on too! :)

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  24. The store is gorgeous, but was a madhouse this weekend. Everything was picked over because merchandise was flying out the doors! And they still have no sale section up and running.

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