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Barney's at the Beginning of Madison Avenue vs Recent Days (prior to the current Chapter 11)

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Stylish Dinosaur
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I'm one of those who used to frequent these pages but hasn't been here much of late. I'm not sure this is the right place to post this, but what the heck. If the admins prefer to move it, I understand.

My post is about Barney's ... recent but pre Chapter 11 vs. the Barney's of my younger days (decades ago) ... about the time the Madison Avenue location opened.

I'll preface this with the fact that I'm OLD(er). Moreover, I haven't done that much shopping in recent years ... as I have enough ... and too much of that stays in the closet. I went overboard in my earlier years and classic menswear just hasn't changed that much. But back when I lived not far from the Barney's New York Chelsea location ... and it was on my way to/from the gym ... I was in Barney's at least a few times a year. I doubt I was in the Madison Avenue location more than two times. But I remember both being almost sumptuous and lush with color. I remember a sock department that ... well ... knocked my socks off. I could find lively Huntsman and Brioni coats. The shirt department was vibrant with color and the tie department was at times overwhelmingly bright.

Last year I went to a Barney's for the first time in 20+ years and what I noticed almost immediately was a near lack of color and exceptionally drab offerings. The displays had also changed. The elegance was gone and in its place was a minimalism that to me looked on the cheap (close inspection revealed otherwise). We turned and walked out after a quick walk around.

Post visit I gave some thought and wondered if the satellite locations were just ... different. I wondered if the flagship would be its old self. A subsequent visit to Madison Avenue proved me wrong. But on that visit I also noticed that the price point had risen dramatically. In my younger days Barney's had offerings across a broader spectrum ... both in terms of dollars and style. That's no longer the case.

I suppose the editing went in a different direction after my earlier visits. Times change and it has been decades. But on my recent visit I was reminded of the East Village in the early 80's when color was a no-no ... although it wasn't as macabre as I found that scene ... and grey and brown had been added. I guess I was stunned to see it so ... boring (to me).

Were I to go into Paul Stuart (a totally different store, yes) today ... it's not that different from what it was when Barney's Madison Avenue opened. On the other hand, Barney's is -- or is it "was" now -- unrecognizable from what it was back then.

When did this change occur? Did I just hit it on bad style days? Is this what led to its most recent Chapter 11? Did the drab come into play after the first Chapter 11 back in the 90's? What the heck happened ... besides my growing old?

Has all this been discussed before? Do these kinds of discussions still occur here? Has Style Forum similarly changed? I apologize if this is no longer SF appropriate.
 
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heelguy

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I agree that it changed dramatically when it opened on Madison. When I was a young attorney back in mid-80s, Barneys on 7th and 17th was where you went to get your first decent suit. I remember buying some Ralph Lauren suits for a few hundred dollars each back then and feeling like I was a real adult. Obviously as NYC changed with the influx of foreign money and some of the tremendous Wall Street wealth, Barneys changed with it. I moved out of NY almost 30 years ago and while I still visit Paul Stuart and BGs when I am in NY, Barneys on Madison had become more of an afterthought for me recently.
 

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Stylish Dinosaur
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Thank you for responding, healguy.
 

dauster

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My biggest grudge with these expensive apartment stores is their lackluster sales staff. If you want to sell me $5,000 raincoats I would at least expect the sales staff to know their stuff about different designers and also provide options in regards to CM. Almost always do I know more than the sales person I deal with and most of the time they seem not to care and not have any knowledge about what they are selling. Latest example is trying on Carminas at Barneys and Corthays at NM. But I also agree that the department stores should offer more visually...
 

RJman

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I'm one of those who used to frequent these pages but hasn't been here much of late. I'm not sure this is the right place to post this, but what the heck. If the admins prefer to move it, I understand.

My post is about Barney's ... recent but pre Chapter 11 vs. the Barney's of my younger days (decades ago) ... about the time the Madison Avenue location opened.

I'll preface this with the fact that I'm OLD(er). Moreover, I haven't done that much shopping in recent years ... as I have enough ... and too much of that stays in the closet. I went overboard in my earlier years and classic menswear just hasn't changed that much. But back when I lived not far from the Barney's New York Chelsea location ... and it was on my way to/from the gym ... I was in Barney's at least a few times a year. I doubt I was in the Madison Avenue location more than two times. But I remember both being almost sumptuous and lush with color. I remember a sock department that ... well ... knocked my socks off. I could find lively Huntsman and Brioni coats. The shirt department was vibrant with color and the tie department was at times overwhelmingly bright.

Last year I went to a Barney's for the first time in 20+ years and what I noticed almost immediately was a near lack of color and very drab offerings. The displays had also changed. The elegance was gone and in its place was a minimalism that to me looked on the cheap (close inspection revealed otherwise). We turned and walked out after a quick walk around.

Post visit I gave some thought and wondered if the satellite locations were just ... different. I wondered if the flagship would be its old self. A subsequent visit to Madison Avenue proved me wrong. But on that visit I also noticed that the price point had risen dramatically. In my younger days Barney's had offering across a broader spectrum ... both in terms of dollars and style. That was no longer the case.

I suppose the editing went in a different direction after my earlier visits. Times change and it has been decades. But on my recent visit I was reminded of the East Village in the early 80's when color was a no-no ... although it wasn't as macabre as I found that scene ... and grey and brown had been added. I guess I was stunned to see it so ... boring (to me).

Were I to go into Paul Stuart (a totally different store, yes) today ... it's not that different from what it was when Barney's Madison Avenue opened. On the other hand, Barney's is -- or is it "was" now -- unrecognizable from what it was back then.

When did this change occur? Did I just hit it on bad style days? Is this what led to it's most recent Chapter 11? Did the drab come into play after the first Chapter 11 back in the 90's? What the heck happened ... besides my growing old?

Has all this been discussed before? Do these kinds of discussions still occur here? Has Style Forum similarly changed? I apologize if this is no longer SF appropriate.
OMG I’ve missed you ....
 

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Stylish Dinosaur
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RJman, on the few occasions I've come here, I search you first.

I knew you had way more than what it takes when I read the post about the best dresser and you posted a photo of ... was it a Louis XIV dresser? I still laugh about that.
 
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Stylish Dinosaur
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My biggest grudge with these expensive apartment stores is their lackluster sales staff. If you want to sell me $5,000 raincoats I would at least expect the sales staff to know their stuff about different designers and also provide options in regards to CM. Almost always do I know more than the sales person I deal with and most of the time they seem not to care and not have any knowledge about what they are selling. Latest example is trying on Carminas at Barneys and Corthays at NM. But I also agree that the department stores should offer more visually...
It's funny you mention a $5000 raincoat. A friend was at the Madison Avenue store this weekend looking at a $5000 raincoat (I kid you not!) marked down to $2800. It was still overpriced and, frankly, ugly.
 

dauster

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It's funny you mention a $5000 raincoat. A friend was at the Madison Avenue store this weekend looking at a $5000 raincoat (I kid you not!) marked down to $2800. It was still overpriced and, frankly, ugly.
I believe it... I was trying on a $5,500 gucci denim jacket a year ago - obviously passed. At some point (at least the barneys in San Francisco) only seemed to cater to athletes. They are the only ones with enough money for overpriced street wear.
 

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Stylish Dinosaur
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Between this thread and the end of the sartorial road, I have so many 2008 feels in me right now.
Hey, I voted for you in that contest about best finds!
 

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Stylish Dinosaur
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I believe it... I was trying on a $5,500 gucci denim jacket a year ago - obviously passed. At some point (at least the barneys in San Francisco) only seemed to cater to athletes. They are the only ones with enough money for overpriced street wear.
I do get the feeling that Barney's in recent times was more about overpriced street wear.
 

dauster

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I do get the feeling that Barney's in recent times was more about overpriced street wear.
yup, apparently can't make a living only catering to rappers, celebrities and athletes... now sacks is selling cheap cashmere sweaters under the brand...
 

dieworkwear

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yup, apparently can't make a living only catering to rappers, celebrities and athletes... now sacks is selling cheap cashmere sweaters under the brand...
What do people think big department stores like that should be selling?

I feel like big stores are facing two problems:

1. On the supply side, the market has become incredibly overcrowded, which means that classic clothing (which is now often considered basic clothing) is under constant attack from commoditization. Excluding tailoring, which fewer and fewer people wear, it's hard to sell stacks of five-pocket cords, polos, and cashmere sweaters because of the ease of internet shopping (and thus price comparison).

2. On the demand side, it's harder to sell big ticket items, specifically suits and sport coats. Fewer people buy those things. To make up for the loss of one suit order, a shop might have to sell two sport coats. In order to make up for the loss of two sport coat orders, a shop will have to sell maybe ten sweaters. Those sweaters, again, in basic designs such as v-necks and crewnecks, have become commodified online.

So what's left for a high-end clothier with a large number of locations? Not a one-off shop such as Andover (they tell me they face these same problems, btw), but a business that has to support many more retail locations (often in cities where the cost of rent and labor have skyrocketed in the last twenty years).

Not attacking anyone, just curious what people think stores should be doing if not selling "streetwear."
 

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