Saks Fifth Avenue turns ground floor into accessories wonderland

In today’s competitive retail environment, it’s all about being unique and memorable. That’s why the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship’s new state-of-the-art ground floor looks like nothing else in New York.

The 53,000-square-foot space has been transformed into a next-level accessories playland, with transparent fixtures showcasing the world’s most covetable brands and an exciting, stay-longer aesthetic. Its centerpiece is a dazzling Rem Koolhaas-designed escalator with iridescent panels that change color as visitors stroll the terrazzo walkways. An open design reveals a multimedia installation illuminating the ceiling one floor up.

Discerning shoppers can score hero bags, exclusives and customized wares, like a Valentino “Rockstud” tote, hand-painted and monogrammed by artist Logan Real (in-store Feb. 8 and 9) and an Off-White striped fanny pack graffitied by creative Matt Litwack (Feb. 21 to 24).

“We took this opportunity to reimagine and redefine the department-store concept, updating it to accommodate the way our customers shop,” the chain’s chief merchant Tracy Margolies, who oversaw the reinvention and brand matrix, tells Alexa. “Saks’ new floor is a testament to the power of in-store experiences and our commitment to the new luxury.”

The store’s $250 million, multi-year “Grand Renovation” kicked off back in 2015 with the “10022-SHOE” department, followed by three fashion floors and a beauty makeover.

The high-traffic ground floor, meanwhile, will be unveiled in two stages. Saks is first throwing a star-studded bash there this week — with a special performance by Halsey — to celebrate the opening of its sprawling handbags and small leather goods sections. Travel, sunglasses, evening, soft accessories and a personalization workshop will be introduced in the fall.

But the bag mecca doesn’t just look great. The store’s array of 56 designer labels is bigger and better than ever. More than a dozen names are new to the Fifth Avenue location, from editorial darling The Row to luxe fave Bottega Veneta.

Guests can hopscotch between nine shop-in-shops, including Chanel’s largest handbag destination in a North American multi-brand store and Hedi Slimane’s debut accessories concept for Celine. Or snare a colorful collectible from France’s legacy leather goods and trunk house Moynat, carried for the first time in a dedicated area outside its signature boutiques.

And there are more than 100 exclusives created especially for Saks, from Alaïa’s “Franca” blush calfskin shoulder bag with a laser-cut flower motif to Alexander McQueen’s floral, four-ring jeweled box clutch. The flagship is also launching “Saks SVNR” (pronounced souvenir), a line of novelty keychains, hats, umbrellas and more, inspired by NYC.

Overwhelmed by the selection? One of the 50 “handbag style advisers” schooled in trends, silhouettes and treatments, will help you find The One (or three).

“The main floor is our customer’s first impression of the New York location,” says Margolies. “We wanted to make an immediate statement and wow our customers upon entering the store.”

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