Lacoste Serves Up Active Style to Women

The little green crocodile is flaunting its feminine side, and nowhere more conspicuously than on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

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Robert Siegel

Photo By John Aquino

The little green crocodile is flaunting its feminine side, and nowhere more conspicuously than on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Lacoste has doubled the size of its four-and-half-year-old flagship to slightly over 4,000 square feet by adding a second level just for women's apparel and accessories and kids.

The clean, white-lacquered, sporty image is intact, enabling the kaleidoscope of polos to project. However, compared with the men's floor, the palette upstairs is lighter and feminine, marked by three off-white, mosaic tile floor pads that help segment the categories, and the soft glow of large, oval-shaped ceiling fluorescents and color-changing LED lighting along the perimeter.

While the merchandising seems restrained compared with before, when all the goods were displayed on one floor, the enhanced women's presentation sends a clear message. "Women's is a very, very important part of our growth, even though the roots of the brand are masculine," said Robert Siegel, chairman and chief executive officer of Lacoste USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Paris-based Devanlay SA, which is owned by the Maus Group, a large retailer in Switzerland. "There is no reason that, with our casual sport lifestyle approach, women's can't be as large as men's," which currently generates double the women's volume, he noted.

At the flagship, "there's probably 50 to 60 percent more women's product," Siegel said during a tour of the store, which is situated on the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 49th Street. "More importantly, it allows us to show it without getting cluttered."

The addition was a project of the architectural and interior design firm James D'Auria Associates. "There were two challenges: making the second floor more feminine and warmer, and then how to tie the two floors together," explained Douglas McClure, partner at James D'Auria Associates. One way was to create an elevator with a green shaft and two levels of green glass that is mirrored and frosted. The firm also tempered the big second-floor windows, potentially a distraction from the products, with a frosted vinyl pattern of intertwining circles that partially screens out the view, and soft translucent curtains with advertising images.

McClure characterized the overall fixturing as "a very white program to showcase the clothes."
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