Higher-End New York Retailers: Us Worry?

Despite the truckloads of statistics floating around lately indicating that U.S. consumer confidence is plummeting (not to mention the millions of tax rebate checks in the mail), the city’s retailers seem convinced that New Yorkers will continue to shop, recession or not.

Monday brought a flood of new retail news, some of it reflective of the economic slump and some less so.

A couple of international brands—one swank, the other mass-market–have expanded their Manhattan presence. Luxury luggage store Tumi opened a new branch in the financial district at 67 Wall Street, right in time for the rush of investment banking lay-offs. The other brands that have taken bets on the financial district like Tiffany’s, BMW, and Hermes do not appear to be doing any banner business. But a new Victoria’s Secret branch, an I-store, and a Barneys in the area are in the pipeline so maybe it’s not such a gamble after all.

Crain’s reported that Montreal-based shoe retailer Aldo signed a 15-year lease for 10,500 square feet at 470 Broadway, between Grand and Broome streets—its second Soho location—and another lease for a smaller Midtown branch.

The department store favored by the high-rolling Manhattan set is actually trying to bring in the hoi-polloi. Barneys is partnering with Target (which we will temporarily pronounce Tarjay à la Tyra Banks for the purposes of this article) to introduce its new eco-friendly Rogan for Target’s Go International line at Barneys’ Madison Avenue flagship on Friday, Women’s Wear Daily reports. The line will be in stock for five days and purchases are limited to three per person.

Last but not least, to coincide with a rebranding campaign to transform New York’s oldest department store from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Sex and the City, Lord and Taylor has launched what City Room called “a horticultural combination of Project Runway meets American Idol.

Until Memorial Day, Lord and Taylor’s Fifth Avenue flagship at 38th Street will be “awash with roses,” but the red rose that has been the brand logo for over 60 years will be swapped for a “sunset” hue. Meanwhile, as part of owner Richard A. Baker’s campaign to attract a hipper, younger following to its 47 U.S. stores, today the chain launched the first round of an annual public contest to design a new rose logo for Lord and Taylor’s bags, boxes, gift cards, and anything else they can stamp it on. Votes submitted by the public online will count for 49 percent.

Sure, an annually-redesigned logo will keep the Lord and Taylor brand from getting stale, but City Room was skeptical that a symbol “that morphs every year can function as an effective logo.” We’ll see.

Higher-End New York Retailers: Us Worry?