Tom’s YSL Update: Rougher Space Puts Focus on Accessories

Tom Ford’s new Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche store on East 57th Street opened Monday, showing a sleek, polished interior with rustic accents.

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“Also, the size of the collection has grown so dramatically since we designed the first store, that a large devotion to accessories really allows us the opportunity to show all these things off. There’s also the simple fact that accessories have a higher margin and you make more money,” said Ford with a laugh.

The YSL store on Madison Avenue was renovated almost two years ago and while the company is pleased with that location, it is anticipating a different customer base for 57th Street.

“The nature of upper Madison Avenue is that it tends to be more locally driven and attract more ready-to-wear-oriented customers,” said Mark Lee, president of Yves Saint Laurent. “So in terms of our long-term strategic goals, in terms of developing handbags and shoes and accessories, we felt it was very important to have a prime location such as 57th Street to develop those categories.…It has been designed and laid out with a focus on accessories. We expect to capitalize on the tremendous traffic potential, local and tourist, that should exist in that location.”

The new store is currently selling the spring-summer collection as well as pre-collection pieces. Retail prices range from $220 to $5,400 for handbags; $1,800 to $2,700 for women’s coats; $1,200 to $3,400 for women’s suits and $2,600 to $6,800 for dresses. The label is also carried at high-end stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

Lee declined to reveal sales forecasts for the new store.

Additional Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche stores are slated to open this summer in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive and the Americana in Manhasset, which will have a version of the 57th Street look and bring the number of YSL stores in the U.S. to 10. “When Gucci Group acquired the brand at the end of 1999, we only had two stores in the U.S., both in New York — on Madison Avenue and a men’s store in SoHo,” said Lee, adding the SoHo store has since been closed.

By the end of the year, there will be 59 YSL stores, according to Lee, with new and renovated shops opening in Rome, Paris, Hong Kong, London and Singapore.
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