A NEW VIBE ON MADISON AVENUE
Within this past three weeks alone, four stores have announced plans to open a location on Madison Avenue: Kate Spade, Brian Atwood, Anya Hindmarch, and Schutz. And within the past month, everyone from Rebecca Taylor to Proenza Schouler to Vince opened up shop on what the neighborhood’s business improvement district is referring to as “Main Street.”
But the boom isn’t that new. Last year, the Wall Street Journal counted 60 new store openings on Madison Avenue since 2010. Yesterday, the Times picks up where they left off with the declaration that “conspicuous consumption has made a resounding return to Madison Avenue, at least on that mile of glistening shops stretching north of Barneys New York at East 60th Street.” By their count, nearly 50 new stores have opened in the past 18 months alone.
The article can be broken up into two categories: the newcomers and the makeovers. Within the past year and a half, high-end brands like Céline, Bottega Veneta, and Proenza have all opened, alongside contemporary brands like Vince, Rag & Bone, Zadig & Voltaire, and Alice + Olivia.
To keep up with the competition, pre-existing luxury stores are stepping up their game. The Times adds that Oscar de la Renta, Lanvin, and Chanel are all expanding, and Etro and Gucci are undergoing makeovers.
For many, the move to Madison Avenue is a given. The article refers to WWD the interview with Proenza designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, who explained that even though their brand is more downtown-associated than up, “the reality is, the clothes are expensive and the customer is here.”
It doesn’t take newcomers to the states long to figure that out, either. The Brazilian footwear brand Schutz doesn’t have a store in the U.S. yet, but they’re planning to open one during Fashion’s Night Out at 655 Madison Avenue. And even though Sandro and Maje headed downtown first, both have plans to settle uptown soon.
Dozens of new stores on Madison Avenue above 60th Street now draw a younger clientele to the traditionally sedate neighborhood.
Rebecca Taylor designs.
The Rag and Bone store. “Customers today are buying from high to low,” said Andrew Rosen, the fashion executive who is a founder of Theory and is involved in the businesses of Helmut Lang, Proenza Schouler, Alice + Olivia and Rag & Bone, all of which have joined the landscape. He was talking of both the high and low ends of fashion, but he could as well have been speaking about the stores all along the length of Madison Avenue.
Credit: Elizabeth Lippman and Donna Alberico for The New York Times