Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hermes Man

Featured are just a few of the items which will be available at the new Hermes store for men.

On February 10, Hermès will open its first men's store entirely dedicated to men's ready-to-wear, accessories and art of living. Called Hermès Man, the boutique is located at 690 Madison Avenue in New York at East 62nd Street and stands directly across the street from the U.S. flagship store.

"We felt there was a tremendous opportunity to really showcase all these wonderful products for men that Hermès makes," said Robert Chavez, President and CEO of Hermès USA during an exclusive interview with Luxist. "These products tended to be overshadowed or almost hidden among the other categories across the street. This store will raise the awareness level of our current and potential male clients in this market who might not have realized before that Hermès had all of these products, from our enamel cuff links to the made-to-measure program."

Despite the tough times affecting other retailers, Paris-based Hermès International is a company that performs better than its competition because its customer base includes the super-affluent, many of who have proven to be recession-proof. Indeed, the company recently reported an 8.5% rise in 2009 revenue (11% on an organic basic) attributed to an end-of-the-year increase in sales of its iconic Birkin and Kelly bags. Sales increased by a robust 20% in the Americas, compared to 12% for Asia and 9% in Europe. Revenue for the year rose to EUR1.91 billion from EUR1.76 billion a year ago, outperforming the company's previous target of flat sales. "This is among the best performances posted in the sector," says J.P. Morgan in a research report published this month.

Acording to Chavez, the Hermès customer is less affected by the recession than the general population, but they are more discerning. "They are not free-spending," he says. "When they do make a purchase, they want something that is more versatile, that will last and endure. Our clients want something that will last them for a long time."For this discerning customer, the store will feature an array of merchandise made specifically for the new Hermes boutique. Exclusive items include a selection of silk ties---one with the Statue of Liberty next to the Eiffel Tower on the front---while another has an apple motif and comes in four different colors. On the reverse of the ties, "Hermès Homme" appears, which is a signature for the new line.

Another signature product that is exclusive for the Hermès Man boutique is a handcrafted leather baseball glove, which retails for $8,500. "The baseball glove is a new product," says Chavez. "It has never been made before by Hermes. We thought if we are opening our very first Hermès boutique for men in the world and it is going happen in the United States and in New York City, then we need to make to make a baseball glove. When you think about it---with the leather and the stitching, it is a natural fit for us. When we first saw the glove, we were all taken aback by how beautiful it is. And as fate would have it, as we knew this date was approaching, the New York Yankees won the World Series."

The ground floor of the store will offer a comprehensive collection of suits, ties, perfumes, small leather accessories and watches, while the mezzanine will feature knitwear, sportswear, belts, hats and luggage. A more intimate setting showcases the men's suits, shoes and briefcases on the third floor. A quick peak at men's suits revealed prices ranging from $5,500 to $20,700. Stunning crocodile jackets were priced as high as $129,500 and can be custom ordered if a special size or color are desired.

The made-to-measure program will be housed on the fourth floor which was designed to evoke the serenity of a private home. Here, clients will select fabric and be fitted for custom suits which are then made in France. The suit will be shipped back to the NYC location and a second fitting will ensue. If any alterations are necessary, they will be done in NYC by Hermès' in-house tailor.

Hermes has long offered a made-to-measure program at its flagship store in New York, but the facility was small. "We offered it across the street, but we really hadn't planned for it," says Chavez. "We took an existing fitting room and transformed it into a made-to measure room. It worked and we were surprised at how much business we were doing out of this little makeshift space. But when this opportunity surfaced, we knew immediately that the fourth floor would become a made-for-measure salon. I think our customers are going to be thrilled."

The 2,450 square foot boutique is the first in the world that Hermès has dedicated to men. The classic brownstone was redesigned by RDAI, the Parisian architectural agency founded by Rena Dumas, and features an interior that is new and contemporary yet borrows from the decorative vocabularies of the traditional tailor's shop and gentlemen's club. Details from the original Hermès store at 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré are revealed and reworked and paired with the store's streamlined architecture to offer a space that is both elegant and simple.

Chavez recalls that when the call came from a real estate agent that 690 Madison was available, it didn't dawn upon him immediately that the flagship location was directly across the street. Once he realized how close the two stores were, he was eager to lease the entire building.

Another impetus to expanding across the street was the need for more space at the flagship store for the women's lines. Indeed, 62% of Hermès revenues derive from its women's lines while 38% is from its men's lines. "We didn't want to give up our wonderful corner on Madison Avenue," says Chavez. "We love 62nd and Madison."

The entire men's line has been moved to the new space. "There are no men's products across the street at the flagship anymore, with the exception of some unisex products," says Chavez. "Of course, our staff will accommodate any of our clients who need help. If someone needs something across the street, such as a scarf for their wife, our staff will get it for them."

Are there plans to open more Hermès Man locations in the future? "I am sure the company will watch and see what happens here," says Chavez. "If it is a big success, which we are pretty confident it will be, who knows what can happen elsewhere."

To be sure, devoted Hermès clients will likely travel from all over the world to patronize the boutique, for it is the only location that will feature the company's entire line for men. "Several of our made-to-measure clients have already made appointments for tomorrow," says Chavez. "Who knows what can happen going forward."



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