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Why Nordstrom Is Opening a New York Men’s Store a Year and a Half Before a Women’s One

Rendering. Photo: Nordstrom

Rendering. Photo: Nordstrom

I, Fashionista’s west coast editor, am originally from the west coast, where there are Nordstroms everywhere. And throughout the 10 years I lived in New York, the city you think has everything — especially when it comes to retail — there was always one thing missing: a Nordstrom. I practically cried tears of joy when the Seattle-based retailer announced official plans to open up on West 57th Street…five years ago.

Ultimately, I couldn’t wait it out (and probably never would’ve trekked that far uptown, anyway) and moved to Los Angeles where there are more Nordstroms than I know what to do with; and those poor New York women will still have to wait until the fall of 2019 to shop at a local Nordstrom — but the retailer just announced some good news for dudes.

The Nordstrom New York flagship is set to open in phases, beginning with the retailer’s first-ever standalone men’s store next spring, a solid year and a half before the women’s location. 

“A separate men’s store wasn’t in our original plan, but opportunistically, things came our way,” explains Paige Thomas, Nordstrom EVP and GMM of Men’s. “Property became available across Broadway from the women’s store, and we wanted to take advantage of that opportunity.” It also gives the retailer a chance to serve some of its long-waiting New York customers while the women’s store, originally set for a 2018 opening, is being built from the ground up, and to test the waters a bit. “There is a lot we can learn by opening up the men’s store first,” Thomas notes.

She did not mention that the men’s business has skyrocketed in revenue growth to the point that it warrants a separate store, but did mention that it’s a “priority for the company” and called out a few men’s growth drivers seen during 2016, including: “highly sought after luxury brands,” Topman (which was introduced alongside Topshop in 2012), advance contemporary (think Rag & Bone, Reigning Champ, Wings & Horns, Our Legacy, Norse Projects and Carhartt WIP), men’s shoes (especially limited-edition sneakers), premium denim and finally, activewear. Menswear currently represents 20 percent of overall annual sales and 18 percent of square footage across all full-line stores, according to the company.

The 47,000-square-foot space will house men’s apparel, shoes and grooming for a range of budgets and occasions. “We’re approaching our New York Flagship product strategy completely differently than we have anywhere else,” says Thomas. “The product will be very purposeful and curated to serve a New York global customer.” She hinted there would be brands not typically associated with Nordstrom, but said they would be revealed closer to the opening.

The company also plans to go above and beyond when it comes to creating a modern shopping experience that’s unique to the New York location and that reflects this new emphasis on menswear. Nordstrom’s Vice President of Creative Projects Olivia Kim, the woman behind initiatives like Pop-In, Space and The Lab, will curate a special project for it; there will be a personal stylist experience; the store will have a “digital infrastructure that will enable a personalized smart store”; and there will be multi-lingual sales associates to accommodate international travelers.

Not only is this a first for Nordstrom, but there aren’t many multibrand men’s stores of this scale in existence, period. However, that’s apparently starting to change, as Saks Fifth Avenue recently opened its own men’s store (which is quite a bit smaller than the Nordstrom one will be) separate from its women’s location in lower Manhattan. Bergdorf Goodman has also long had its own men’s store across the street from the rest of the flagship; though Nordstrom’s version will likely feel a bit more laid-back.

Surely there’s more news to come as this New York Nordstrom rolls out, so watch this space.

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