Back Where It All Began: Inside Barnys New York Chelsea

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By: Amber Alston

Barneys New York- the department store that has become synonymous with New York grandeur- has returned to Chelsea, a neighborhood that is known for its sophistication and special brand of cool. The original Barneys opened in 1923, only steps from the new Downtown location. After a migration uptown and shifts in its creative direction, the store has returned to its original home.

In the shadow of the Highline and steps from the New Whitney Museum, Barney’s Downtown Flagship feels like a journey into mid-century heaven. The 55,000 square foot flagship spans five uniquely designed floors. The design marvel features a sculptural staircase, various vibrant motifs, luxury displays and custom seating that pay homage to the best of the mid-century modern design.

The Barneys team collaborated with award-winning architectural firm of Steve Harris Architects to create a space that was elegant and timeless. The team created an aesthetic that lead designer Steve Harris refers to as “retail design for the residential visionary.” The store is inconspicuous from the street, yet lavish on the inside. “ The store is completely unique compared to any other store downtown…we wanted to create a calm and tranquil; environment with neutral, but richly varied color palate that truly highlights the merchandise.” A tall winding staircase leads guests through three stories of Ready to Wear, footwear and past a Freds Restaurant and Blind Barber Salon.

Barney’s has partnered with Blind Barber, a Barbershop that those living in New York’s Lower East Side, Los Angeles or Brooklyn, may know well. Blind Barber was started in 2010 with a mission to reclaim the communal aspect of going to the Barbershop. The cutting edge men’s grooming room and lounge creates an atmosphere that celebrates the spirit of barbershops of the past. While the Blind Barber at Barneys may not have the live music or bars that have made its three other locations popular, it does carry a line that is cocktail-inspired and sourced from high quality botanicals and components used for crafting beers and liquors. The Blind Barber is a welcome addition that furthers Barneys quest to impact customers on all levels.

For those looking to quench their thirst after a trim, the first-ever downtown location of Freds at Barneys will open on the third floor of the new flagship store. Traditionally known as a power lunch destination, Freds at the Downtown flagship will also boast a menu of small bites and refreshing cocktails. Executive Chef Mark Strausman is overseeing the modern Italian menu, taking inspiration from the Freds outposts in Beverly Hills, Chicago and on Madison Avenue, while updating it with exclusive dishes to serve the downtown audience.

Customers who are hungry for the expertly curated clothing, shoes and accessories will be happy to browse the seemingly endless space. The Downtown flagship will carry the curated and discerning edit of merchandise for which Barneys New York is known, and will reflect a neighborhood luxury shopping experience. Coveted designers such as Dries Van Noten, Givenchy, and Saint Laurent will be available, as well as XO “Exclusively Ours” brands such as Baraboux handbags, and fragrances from Douglas Little. The Downtown flagship will also launch exclusive capsule collections from Valentino, Alexander Wang, Elder Statesman, and Sidney Garber, among others.

To further elevate the shopping experience, Barneys Downtown is using state of the art technology to integrate digital aspects into its physical location. Barneys is the first luxury retailer to launch iBeacon technology. The technology offers a way to share rich multimedia content like videos, look books and designer interviews to inform and entertain the customer. Beacons throughout the store have the ability to deliver to a customer’s mobile device. Customers are able to send personalized recommendations of content from The Window or Barneys’ luxury editorial site, to users who choose to opt-in for this experience. The use of iBeacon technology allows for a streamlined and efficient shopping experience for the novice and informed shopper alike.

Barneys also built a custom clienteleing system, which uses customer-centric personalization that is sophisticated enough to connect online and offline behaviors and preferences so that sales associates may better serve their clients. The clienteleing app is available on associates’ iPads, which are also used as mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) devices with Apple Pay, the easy, secure and private way to pay with iPhone or Apple Watch. With this new feature, Barneys will be able to enhance the customer experience through highly informed associates, better background information on brands and products of interest to each individual consumer, and an easier way to purchase. As another method of optimizing custom service, same day delivery is now available in Manhattan and select areas of Brooklyn.

 “The customer experience in this store runs parallel in importance to the design, product and historic location,” said Barneys New York COO, Daniella Vitale. “We want the customer to feel as though anything is possible when they walk into the store. With the seamless integration of technology, our incredible staff, and a deep appreciation of our customer, we really do feel that everything is possible.”

The flourishing Madison Avenue flagship will maintain its presence as the largest Barneys New York store and, coupled with the smaller neighborhood stores in Brooklyn and the Upper West Side, further pays homage to the deep-routed relationship between Barneys and New York City. To celebrate this longstanding bond, Barneys’ Spring 2016 campaign entitled “Our Town,” shot by Bruce Weber, aims to honor the way that New York City continues to inspire the brand as a whole. The campaign features both portraits and short films highlighting iconic New Yorkers spanning from notable faces such as Bobby Cannavale, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga, Yoko Ono, and Patti Smith, to local characters like iconic Italian restaurant Rao’s owner, Frank Pellegrino, and nightlife icon Ladyfag. The images and films of “Our Town” depict New York through Weber’s eyes, and find the humanity, individuality, and soul of each eccentric character and location, truly showcasing the diversity and beauty of the city. Barneys has returned home and New Yorkers are welcoming the pristine establishment with open arms.

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