Barneys Brings Luxe Downtown

Gabriella Bower
As the centerpoint of the new Barneys flagship, the spiral staircase leads customers through retail heaven.

Last month, Barneys New York re-opened their doors on 7th Avenue in between 16th and 17th street, originally the American luxury department chain’s flagship store. While the flagship has since been moved to Madison Avenue, this ground-up store renovation downtown was a way to complement the Madison Avenue store as well as serve as a more intimate brick-and-mortar shopping option for Barneys’ customers.

When you enter the double doors, you are welcomed by an airy and glistening aesthetic, what fashion lovers would liken to their heaven. The eye-catching spiral staircase serves as the focal point of the four story, 58,000 square foot downtown Barneys.

Each floor focuses on a specific sub-section of the retail market. From cosmetics on the basement floor to fine jewelry on the ground floor, women’s runway to wardrobe on the second to men’s furnishing on the top floor, the store is logically organized to give the consumer the most efficient and effortless shopping experience.

Mark Lee, Barneys’ CEO, told WWD “It’s about showing the product. There are no shops-in-shop. No vendor logos. We are a specialty store — not a department store. Shoppers come to see ‘the Barneys edit.’”

The entire store is very luxe, minimalist and pristine — almost too perfect. The salespeople are as posh as their surroundings, and while stunning, the store is not exactly inviting to all consumers. However, the store did offer ample seating made of lush textiles which were equally glamorous as they were comfortable.

When looking into the atrium of the store from one of the levels, you see frosted glass reminiscent of the originally mod store that dressed the city’s young socialites. Barneys’ creative ambassador-at-large Simon Doonan reflected about the original Barneys at this location with The Wall Street Journal saying, “It was just the most intriguing place — a groovy place where ideas could develop.”

From the humble beginnings of a mere 700 square foot shop stocked with 40 brand name suits in 1923 to the now 27 locations throughout the US selling luxury brands, Barneys New York has surely evolved. But the one thing that remains is their ability to provide clothes and accessories for any individual style. From the club kids of the 80s and 90s to Upper East Side matriarchs, Barneys has served as the blank palette to which the clothes paint everyone’s unique style. The remodeled downtown Barneys is reflective of this quite literally with its all-white interior.

While the newest location does not shake the uppish stereotype often associated with the fashion industry, there is no denying the impeccable eye of curation that is Barneys New York.

A version of this article appeared in the March 28 print edition. Email Gabriella Bower at [email protected]

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