After two long years of construction, Ralph Lauren’s 22,000 square foot, four story flagship store at 72nd Street and Madison is finally open, and boy, it is a sight to behold. The store, which has been built to resemble a mansion, will be the brand’s largest women’s sore and will feature not just clothing but also jewelry and lingerie. In addition, the top floor of the building will feature a home section, gloriously presented in the form of a modern luxury apartment. Lauren himself has openly stated that one of his main goals was to create a spot where tourists could shop, opining to the New York Times, “Big cities have international people. Tourists come wanting to buy souvenirs.” Those looking for a sartorial slice of Americana will not be disappointed with the store’s offerings – but while there are $159,000 necklaces to satisfy the wealthy, the brand has not forgotten it’s bread and butter – the polo and khaki folks.
In this sense, the flagship store has accomplished a multi-pronged approach. It’s glamour and design, as well as the architecture of the old-money mansion itself, will appeal to those visiting the city and hoping to obtain a sense of the brand’s bravado. Polo built the new store to resemble a classic New York mansion – a mansion of days gone by, the kind of private home you rarely see here anymore – and resemble a classic New York mansion it does. Polo has long had a store across the street at the Rhinelander mansion, but this new building gives the brand room to grow and expand. It also gives the tourists looking for a hint of American luxury the experience they’re looking for.
Those looking for the more attainable price point might be disappointed. The signature casual American style that the brand is famous for – the style that is carried in Macy’s and Lord and Taylor stores across the country, is nowhere to be seen in the store. The fourth floor is built out to resemble a model apartment, right down to the flower arrangements on the tables. The third floor houses casual lines not carried in department stores; the second, the Purple Label line, which offers runway clothes. The first floor is dedicated entirely to handbags, shoes and baubles. Nowhere will you find the chinos, sweatshirts and popped collared shirts with the famous Polo horse – these, after all, don’t offer the degree of luxury that the brand is hoping to convey in the new store.
Tourists visiting the city and hoping to do some serious retail damage on the Upper East Side’s Madison Avenue will not be disappointed with the brand’s newest retail store. As every good flagship knows, it’s all about making a statement – and the statement here is that Americans can do luxury just as well as anyone else. If you’re looking to take home a piece of Americana, this is where to shop.
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