Amid layoffs, Saks Fifth Avenue sees menswear business as path to growth

Last week, the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan celebrated the company’s renewed commitment to menswear with a swanky party featuring NBA player James Harden. The evening celebrated the opening of the newly renovated menswear section on the seventh floor, the addition of more than 125 new menswear labels to, including Rhone, Loewe and Jacquemus, and the launch of a new menswear brand ambassador program called The Saks Man.

Tracy Margolies, the company’s chief marketing officer, said the new investment in menswear was inspired by the category’s “significant growth” over the past few years, though she declined to provide specific revenue figures.

“While we remain focused on expanding our online offerings and creating an unrivaled collection of men’s fashion and accessories on, our store remains an important part of the Saks Fifth Avenue ecosystem,” said Margolies. “The new menswear floor in New York enhances the power of the in-store experience and reflects Saks’ reputation as an authority on style.”

The new seventh-floor menswear area includes 19 shop-in-shops from big brands such as Bottega Veneta and Gucci, as well as Celine Homme, Celine’s first shop-in-shop. It also has Palm Angels’ first shop-in-shop and Alexander McQueen’s first shop-in-shop under creative director Sarah Burton.

Louis DiGiacomo, senior vice president and general manager of Saks menswear, said that as Saks menswear grows, its in-store displays will continue to evolve. Saks plans to add more big names to its men’s ready-to-wear section, including Louis Vuitton, Martine Rose and Maison Margiela in the next three months. Additionally, this floor features a central atrium space that rotates installations from various brands and artists every few months.

On the digital front, spun off its business from its brick-and-mortar business in 2021 and has also broadly expanded its menswear catalog. There are popular labels like Jacquemus and Junya Watanabe, with a special focus on activewear brands like Rhone, Fair Harbor, Sease and Alo Yoga. Men’s activewear is a fast-growing category expected to reach $450 billion by 2028, according to Grand View Research.

Finally, Saks has a new invitation-only brand ambassador program called The Saks Man, of which Harden is a founding member. Ambassadors will promote Saks marketing campaigns to their own audiences and attend and host Saks events—like the opening party in the men’s section on the seventh floor. Other early ambassadors included NBA player Quentin Grimes and activist Saad Amer. The program is structured in much the same way as Saks Social Club, a women’s ambassador program launched in 2021.

The move comes at a fragile time for Saks Fifth Avenue. Its parent company, Hudson’s Bay Company, which was taken private in 2019, has not disclosed its financial details. But has reportedly doubled its workforce since 2021, having laid off 100 people two weeks ago. Most of the unemployed are in the technology sector.

HBC spun off amid a surge in e-commerce revenue, turning into a private company jointly owned by HBC and investment firm Insight Ventures. But e-commerce growth has slowed markedly since then. Layoffs are an increasingly common way to rein in spending at a time when revenues are falling due to inflation and spending cuts.

But executives said menswear has been a bright spot, with DiGiacomo saying December 2022 will be a banner month for Saks menswear sales, surpassing December 2019 sales.

Overall, menswear has been growing rapidly over the past three years, with the market expected to reach $547 billion by 2026, according to Euromonitor. Saks has been increasing its investment in menswear over the years. In a 2018 interview with Glossy, DiGiacomo called menswear a “explosion category.”

Menswear has been one of the bright spots in fashion in recent years, menswear stylist Taylor Davies told Glossy last year. For example, Saks Fifth Avenue rival Nordstrom invested in its menswear, opening a standalone menswear store in 2018 and hiring Highsnobiety’s Jian DeLeon as head of menswear in 2020.

“Guys care more about what they’re wearing,” Davis says.

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