As menswear continues to show momentum, Saks Fifth Avenue is looking to take advantage of the evolving footwear market. This week, the retailer will launch its men’s shoe floor at the New York flagship as part of the store’s multi-year renovation plan.
For the first time, footwear will be offered in one location, with more than 60 brands within a 8,000-square-foot-space.
“We have a 60% increase in selling space, broader selection, and we can offer our customer a full lifestyle assortment,” said chief merchant Tracy Margolies. “The environment allows for impulse purchasing and is a more seamless experience.”
Prior to the overhaul, customers would have to go to multiple floors to shop for different occasions. Now, a staircase in the center of the space will connect Saks’ sixth and seventh men’s floors, creating ease for the consumer to see the category in full. The push comes as customers are shopping more frequently. By 2021, sales are set to pass those of womenswear, according to a survey by Euromonitor.
Louis DiGiacomo, Saks men’s SVP and GMM, told FN, “Our clients are coming in, especially for footwear, every month because they want some- thing new to wear. In the past — and I’ve been at Saks for over 20 years — [the shopper] would come in twice a year for a spring wardrobe and a fall wardrobe.”
Now those consumer patterns are changing. “He’s spending more and coming more.” He added, “It’s the right time to make a statement with this category in men’s based on the performance we’ve been having in the last two years.”
Margolies cited the uptick for demand in the men’s category when office dress codes started to become more casual, and DiGiacomo credited explosive growth in sneakers.
According to the company, kicks are the majority of the Saks Fifth Avenue’s men’s shoe business. However, there’s been a shift toward refined styles, including hybrids, loafers and boots, appearing more on the runways.
“We are seeing this as an opportunity for volume and not a shift in business,” said DiGiacomo. “Sneakers are still a dominant category — and it’s going to continue to grow. The customer is just adding other categories of footwear into his wardrobe to dress differently for certain occasions.”
Brand highlights include Dior, Celine, Balenciaga, Fendi, Gucci, Prada, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo and Pierre Corthay. And to bolster its sneaker selection, Saks has added Veja, Fila and Common Projects, among others, to its New York store assortment. “Most men in the U.S. market are looking for comfort and practicality, while [they still want] to be stylish and [have] somewhat of a ‘wow’ factor — especially when it comes to their footwear,” said Veja co-founder Sébastien Kopp, on what men are shopping for. “With the growing awareness of sustainable fashion, I hope that the idea of a shoe being made of fair-trade organic cotton, eco-tanned leather and wild rubber that’s directly sourced from the Amazonian rainforest, is a ‘wow’ in itself.”
In addition to new brands, Saks is differentiating itself from department store competition through exclusives and personalized services. The renovated shoe floor will offer extended sizing, sneaker cleaning, a lace bar, and shine and repair stations, for instance. (Thirty stylists will also be on hand to offer up advice.)
Saks is also offering an expanded made- to-order and made-to-measure business with luxury labels, including Santoni, Bally, Ermenegildo Zegna and Salvatore Ferragamo. “Men are becoming more conscious in their footwear choices and now have more confidence to step out of the traditional world of black and brown dress shoes. Colors and materials speak to the customers’ personal style,” said Santoni CEO Giuseppe Santoni. “We understand this and have developed materials, colors and shading processes that are unique [to the brand] and speak directly to this need.”
Saks is focused on exclusives to bring in customers, too. Featuring more than 160 styles, the retailer will be able to showcase brands in a different point of view compared to other stores.
“We wanted to focus on the new luxury, which is personalization and individuality,” DiGiacomo said. “There is so much product you can get anywhere, for us to market to our client that we have an exclusive, this is something that will attract the customer to Saks rather than our competition.”
Saks’ men’s shoe floor will open on July 17.
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