End of a Long Affair: Kleinfeld Leaving Brooklyn

Kleinfeld's, the 62-year-old Brooklyn-based bridal gown institution, is opening a store in Manhattan in July and kissing Kings County goodbye.

Kleinfeld has been a fixture in Bay Ridge Brooklyn for more than 50 years

Kleinfeld has been a fixture in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn for more than 50 years.

Photo By WWD Staff

NEW YORK — For thousands of brides-to-be, the pilgrimage to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to shop for a wedding gown at Kleinfeld is a rite of passage. But one thing about the ritual is about to change: Come July, there will be no need to trek to the outer borough.

That's when the company plans to open a 35,000-square-foot flagship at 110 West 20th Street near Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. At that time, the Brooklyn store, which is more than 60 years old, will close.

The new store is expected to do $35 million in sales in its first year. The Brooklyn store, by contrast, has annual sales of between $20 million and $24 million.

While the Brooklyn store consists of a series of brownstones cobbled together over the years, the flagship was designed by Taylor & Stonehill from the ground up. Kleinfeld's owners chose a hotel architect with clients such as the Plaza Hotel, Millennium Hilton and Sheraton New York to design the space. "Our business isn't really retail, it's hospitality," said Ronnie Rothstein, Kleinfeld co-owner and chief executive officer. The new store will be elegant and luxurious, with a sense of theater, to heighten the experience of buying a wedding dress, he added.

Kleinfeld, which claims to have the largest selection of gowns in the world, is the strongest bridal player in the New York metropolitan area. Its move from Brooklyn to Manhattan is bound to send tremors through the bridal industry. A question raised by the move is whether Kleinfeld will demand exclusives of designers now selling to Barneys New York or Saks Fifth Avenue.

"There will be a little tornado around for a while until the dust settles," said bridal designer Richard Glasgow. "When something of this magnitude happens, there's upheaval in the whole bridal industry."

Glasgow said Kleinfeld will probably have the last word in most cases. "Kleinfeld has a lot of clout," he explained. "But there are many, many bridal designers now. Stores will adjust and pick up merchandise from new designers."

While Barneys can sell edgier designers, Kleinfeld's Manhattan location could pose a challenge to Saks. "In a large specialty store like Saks, bridal is always a stepchild," Glasgow said. "Stores do it as an accommodation for the customer. At Kleinfeld, it's their business."
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