5th Avenue for Rent: Sean John and Zara Get Ready to Move In

Sean Combs is about to change the face of Fifth Avenue in the 40s with his first Sean John store, WWD has learned.

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"Sean John is a very big resource at Bloomingdale’s," said Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president of fashion direction at the retailer. "It started as an inner-city resource, but it’s developed into a very sophisticated line. It appeals to all people — suburban, inner-city — with casual looks, pull-on pants, zipper jackets, in velours and cotton knits and [fur-trimmed] hooded parkas." Ruttenstein said the line is better priced, ranging from $68 to $400.

In addition, a new luxury residential high rise is going up opposite Lord & Taylor, which will have some retail space available, and should help fuel retail sales.

Despite the turnover of space, between 34th and 49th, "things are immeasurably better than they were 15 years ago," said Tom Cusick, president of the Fifth Avenue Association. He said back then, the retail scene was a lot shadier, with many more going-out-of-business signs, and many more street vendors and stores selling tourist rip-off items and fake antiques, and overflowing trash receptacles.

"It used to be a total nightmare," however local business improvement districts, combined with legislation and zoning regulations, have elevated the quality of life along Fifth Avenue. "In general, there has been a steady upgrade of stores on Fifth Avenue for the last seven or eight years, and we are beginning to see movement going down south of Saks because there isn’t as much space turnover north of Saks."
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