This is probably old news to some of you, as it was in DNR a month or so ago, but it was news to me... NEW YORK -- Tailored clothing trunk shows are a thing of the past for Bergdorf Goodman. "We've come to the conclusion that trunk shows are dead," said Robert Burke, vice-president and senior fashion director. "They're dated, and today's customer comes in to shop when he wants to, not when we tell him to." Margaret Spaniolo, senior vice-president and general merchandise manager of men's wear for the upscale specialty store, added, "We wanted to come up with something more social and interesting. We'll still offer all the same fabrics, and the reps will be in and out of the store, but we're no longer going to do a big made-to-measure month." The decision was significant for the store, which had done six to seven trunk shows in both the spring and the fall every year. This fall, instead of having tailored clothing manufacturers set up shop in the store for several days, Bergdorf will focus its attention on several high-profile parties and in-store events to create a buzz for its new offerings. "If we can draw people in with a successful party and they see the product, it will inspire them to come back," Burke said. "So we've stepped up our activity for fall," Spaniolo added. For example, Spencer Hart, a Savile Row designer label that will exclusive with Bergdorf this fall, will have a new shop on the second floor which is expected to be ready in early September. Customers will be introduced to the merchandise, including suits at $4,000 to $5,000, when Spencer Hart's designer, Nick Hart, visits the store on Sept. 23 for the official shop opening. The collection is expected to complement Thom Browne, another exclusive Bergdorf has carried since February that has performed well on the store's third floor. "His business is better than some of the well-known international designers," Burke said. "And frankly, we didn't expect it to be that strong." On the main floor, Richard James has been given a new shop, marking the first time the store has carried clothing on the first floor. The designer will make a personal appearance at the store on Oct. 14. Another big event is planned to celebrate the launch of DSquared. On Oct. 26, the store will hold a big blowout party at Butter, a hot downtown New York City club, with an "I Love Beer" theme. "We'll also have some Canadian Mounties there, and they won't be fully clothed," Burke said. Bergdorf's will also put on an Etro Collage event at the end of October, when 12 to 14 artists will visit the store and make collages on the third floor and in the windows. The installation, which is expected to include a collage from men's designer Kean Etro, will then be on view to the public for two weeks. The store will also host events with Brioni, Kiton and Oxxford, a book signing with Michael Roberts and a launch party for T, the new style magazine from The New York Times edited by Stefano Tonchi. And while events will be front and center for Bergdorf this fall, the store's merchants have been working to maintain their positions as trend leaders. The area inside the main Fifth Avenue entrance has become a focal point to convey the store's message. Currently, for example, it features an assortment of shirts, pants and sweaters, as well as a tweed statement drawn from throughout the store. "We know we can't be everything to everybody," said Burke, "but we still want to be modern. The Fifth Avenue entrance continues to be a huge draw and customers now come there expecting an overview." In fact, the store shows some of the same merchandise in a focus area on the second floor, which is chock full of tweeds, corduroys, garment-washed suits, shetlands, moleskins and tattersalls in everything from neckties to sport coats. "These are American classics that you just can't find anymore," Burke said, noting that the store is also "moving away from brights and showing more rich colors." The offerings are from Cantarelli, Hickey and Boglioli, along with Bergdorf private label. Michael Bastian, fashion director of the men's store, said the department was inspired by a late '50s, New York literary theme. Suits for $1,200, sport coats for $800 and complementary shirts and ties were all chosen to support the season's theme. "We wanted to make a statement," Burke said. It's a theme that will also be well represented when the store's magazine is sent out to customers this week. The fashion spreads of traditional American looks, entitled "A Man of Few Words,"were shot in Ireland, and "Classic Rock," which Bastian explained as "over-the-edge luxury inspired by Bryan Ferry, the lifestyle of an international rock star." Bergdorf's men's magazine this fall is 70 pages, up from 48 last year, Spaniolo said. Executives said that in its magazine as well as in-store, Bergdorf is attracting a younger customer who is drawn to the merchandise that's "classically based but with a flair." The third floor, which houses the store's more fashion-forward collections, has some new additions this fall, in addition to DSquared, including Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Marni and Valentino Red. Also on tap for this fall is a renovation of the Dolce & Gabbana shop on three. "The business has grown so much that we had to add capacity to the shop," said Spaniolo, adding that Paul Smith will also be "intensified." Other lines that have performed well for the store include Brunello Cucinelli, another exclusive, which Spaniolo said is "on fire." Burke added: "It used to be only knitwear, but he's expanded into tailored clothing and other categories." Burke and Spaniolo believe that the Bergdorf Men's store is connecting with customers. "We just had the best year we ever had in this store," Spaniolo said, "and fall has started off well."
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10/6/04 at 10:47am