New York City is buzzing about retail. Local headlines are dominated by stories about Barney’s likely closure and Nordstrom opening its first NYC store. This is within a year of Saks Fifth Avenue closing it’s downtown location and Neiman Marcus opening at Hudson Yards.
It’s hard to gauge if NYC retail is dying a slow and painful death or experiencing a rebirth. A trip to the newly opened Nordstrom woman’s store would lead anyone to believe that a Renaissance is underway. Today, I took my first trip to the new 57th Street department store and spent several hours exploring and trying to understand what makes Nordstrom any different from the 15-alternative sources you can procure Prada boots.
In a landscape of specialty, Nordstrom offers a little bit of retail magic for everyone, It’s a little Macy’s, a dash of Bloomindales, a twist of Saks, a sprinkle of Bergdorfs and a hint of Dover Street Market. It’s hard to believe but it’s true.
The first floor contains a bright and cheery array of Fjallraven backpacks, which would make any school girl squeal with excitement. The lower levels are focused on luxury brands, which include shoes and handbags from Valentino, Fendi, Dior, and fashion from Saint Laurent, Balmain, and Erdem. There is even a section of Comme Des Garcons. (That’s where the Dover Street Market flavor comes into play.) The upper floors contain contemporary lines from a variety of brands including Nili Lotan, Alice & Olivia, Ted Baker, and Halogen. I have lots of pics in the jump.
What makes this Nordstrom a little bit different than other stores is that there is also encourages exploration. I was surprised to see Perrin in the designer handbag section and discovered D’estree–a brand I didn’t know! Their bags have the visual intrigue and a price point close to Danse Lente but offers far superior quality. I got to get up close and personal with a great assortment from Nanushka and have a newfound appreciation for the quality and affordable price. (Slide through to see pictures from inside the store.)
Unfortunately, my food experience was not on par with what draws me to Barneys several times a week or even the sustenance provided at Forty Carrots. Bar Verde, on the fifth floor, offered reasonable menu options but all of our food was served cold. The quality of the individual ingredients surpassed the final product. The french fries, which is the barometer of any bistro, were even barely “fine”. On the bright side, my Lavender Chai, from the basement level children’s section, was delicious even if I was upsold whole milk. The final price for my small Chai was $7 and I would prefer to overpay at Sant Ambroeuse.
Throughout the entire day, the Nordstrom store was buzzing with curious customers. I noticed diversity you don’t normally see at NY stores. There were people coming from surrounding offices, Upper West Siders, tourists, and various Nordstrom executives. I even spotted the fashion icon, Fern Mallis.
I think that this type of diversity is what will set Nordstrom apart from other NYC retailers. As most venues have their own tribe, this is a destination that seems to accept everyone and a curated assortment of everything. Perhaps this is the true future of retail and the beginning of a Golden Age. You can click here to take a visual tour via pictures and commentary.