Saks Fifth Avenue's New York City flagship on Tuesday said that it tripled the space dedicated to handbag sales on its renovated main floor, with more than 50 brands that include 14 that are new to the store.
As part of its reimagined flagship, which has entailed moving its beauty sales to the second floor, the retailer has also employed 20 multilingual "Saks Service Advisors" who don't sell anything but guide customers through the store. In handbags, 50 "Style Advisors," who have "multi-brand product knowledge" rather than responsibility to a particular brand, work alongside the brands' salespeople, the company said.
The luxury department store has also opened its new Parisian-style in-store restaurant, L'Avenue at Saks, according to a company press release.
With a massive revamp of its flagship Fifth Avenue store, Saks upended one of the most recognizable aspects of a department store when it moved its beauty concessions from the first floor.
Filling so much of that space with handbags carries some risk. UBS analysts last month said in a research note emailed to Retail Dive that, "It's true the handbag environment isn't great" and noted that in December 27% of all bags were discounted, compared to 16% in the previous four months. Still, things may not be so bad as they seem, as UBS Evidence Lab data also showed that those discounts weren't as steep as they had been in that previous period.
Saks merchants are counting on exclusivity and personalization to battle whatever weakness there may be in the space. "[W]e worked closely with our partners to create over 100 exclusive products specifically for our customers," the retailer's chief merchant, Tracy Margolies, said in a statement. "The size and scale of the new main floor enables us to showcase the best handbag and accessory designers in the world, demonstrating Saks Fifth Avenue's strong fashion point of view. We are confident that the overall presentation, including high-design shop-in-shops combined with personalization and customization services will truly surprise and delight our customers."
The space features top brands including Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Celine, Chloé, Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Gucci, Loewe, Loro Piana, Louis Vuitton, Nancy Gonzalez, Prada, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, The Row, Valentino and more — plus the largest Chanel handbag shop to be found a multi-brand retailer in North America and Moynat's first space in a multi-brand retailer, according to the release.
The New York store also offers monogramming, embossing, hand stamping, artwork, graffiti and other personalized touches free of charge with purchase, the company said.