Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Madewell's New Flagship Store Opens in NYC!

A big "thanks!" to Jessica, who shared the following article about Madewell's expansion in NYC from WWD (click here to read in its entirety):
Madewell Opens in Landmarked Location
By David Moin

Photos By George Chinsee

April 26, 2011

Madewell now has its rightful flagship — a 6,500-square-foot, two-level unit opening today in a landmarked site in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood

The store, at 115 Fifth Avenue on the southeast corner of 19th Street, represents the largest location in the 22-unit chain, and most architecturally impressive with imposing 19-foot arched windows and Corinthian columns from the original 1816 building that housed the former Arnold Constable department store.

Furthering the historic character is the array of antique mill tables, steamer trunks and steel meat hooks doubling as merchandise fixtures, the exposed ductwork and vintage-inspired ceiling lamps resembling gas lights and some quirky decorative displays like old wind-up clocks and shoe lasts and a Madewell sign created from pushpins.

With greater square footage than it typically tackles, Madewell, the less expensive, more casual division of J.Crew Group, stepped out with some new merchandising concepts, including a 300-square-foot shoe shop in the rear of the store; a wider selection of home goods; and a “hometown heroes” pop-up shop on the 2,000-square-foot mezzanine selling items from some of the staff’s favorite stores around town. There’s affordable estate jewelry from Erie Basin located in Red Hook, Brooklyn; pillows from JS & Sons in Nolita, and mechanical pencils and various office supplies from Top Hat on the lower East Side. There are also CDs and vinyl records from Other Music in the East Village; bikes from Bowery Lane Bicycles, and prints from the Jen Bekman's Madewell’s New York Centricity is most evident in the storefront which currently displays three-dimensional chalk graphics depicting the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, among other icons.

“This space is really open, especially compared to our SoHo unit which is quite narrow. We can capture a lot more color and drama,” said Kin Ying Lee, Madewell’s head designer.

“Madewell is at a pivotal point,” added marketing director Gigi Guerra, who explained that the flagship’s experimental character fits, considering the brand continues to evolve its merchandise and this year is picking up the pace of store openings, with units set for Lincoln Road in Miami on June 7, San Francisco Center in July, as well as the one that opened last month in Costa Mesa, Calif. in South Coast Plaza.

Madewell, which is believed to be moving closer to profitability, debuted in 2007 with a narrower, downtown appeal and now “crosses a lot of boundaries” targeting women ranging from college students to young mothers,
though there’s still some of that downtown, hipper side and a tomboyish or “boy-girl” character to many of the clothes, Guerra said. Think slouchy chambray tops and trousers, plaid shirts, desert boots and Le Minor striped French sailor T-shirts.
The store looks a-MA-zing! I cannot wait to check it out over the Summer.

I also find that interesting two things: (1) Madewell is still not profitable after all these years! If it wasn't Mickey Drexler's baby, would Madewell still be around today? (2) Madewell is trying to broaden its appeal now. When Madewell first came out, they targeted affluent teenagers and those in their early twenties. Now, I completely agree they are trying to branch out of their initial age brackets with many of their offerings and styles. However, I wonder if this will change the brand's image.

What are your thoughts on Madewell's new flagship store? Will you be making a visit any time soon? Have you already checked it out? Please share!


  1. I find it absolutely absurd that there is no Madewell store in Chicago yet. Anyone know if there are plans for one here in the works? I love Madewell, in fact I've been liking it more than J Crew lately and have ordered more things online from them this spring than I've bought at J Crew, but I would definitely buy more if I were able to go to a store to see things in person and try them on. I really baffles me, and sort of pisses me off, that they've completely passed us over, while there are stores in much smaller places like Charlotte, NC, and Columbus, OH.


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  2. If I lived in NYC I would definitely go. I would love to have a Madewell store here, but have been told there are no plans for one anytime soon, unfortunately.

  3. "Affordable estate jewelry", that sounds good!

    Maybe Chicago will be next. The Loop is fast becoming an awesome location for hip stores, with so many students living nearby and the tourists come to see the sights and go shopping. Plus all of the train lines converge there.

  4. The store looks fabulous, very fresh. I will definitely check this out the next time I'm in NYC. Thanks for sharing the details.

  5. I will for sure be checking it out when I'm in NYC this summer! Looks terrific...the SoHo location always makes me claustrophobic.

  6. Can't believe they aren't profitable. Every time I have been into the Soho shop it is a MADhouse--and the lines to the cash register are so long. Never really seen anything like it. LA shop also busy. Guess it takes awhile.

  7. I find it funny that Madewell's target market is affluent teens and 20-somethings. In todays economy, their pricing for that age group is crazy. Even if they are aiming for the affluent ones, J.Crew has mass appeal and attracts customers many middle class customers- they should take a cue from their big sister! I don't really think Madewell is "less expensive" or "more affordable" than J.Crew. The prices are basically the same. Madewells blouses are $90+ and J.Crew's are $80+ (and J.Crew's are better)! Their tees aren't MADE WELL and looked funky after a few washes. I live in Charlotte, NC and I agree with Jaimie that it's crazy there isn't one in a big city like Chicago. The Madewell store here is always pretty empty while J.Crew right across the way is packed. The one thing I do like about Madewell is their jeans. They are more affordable and comparable to some of my designer jeans. If they stuck to their denim and had well-made (ahem, like their name suggests), afforable basics, they might see some profits!
    Despite my ill-feelings toward Madewel, I LOVE J.CREW!


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