A Return To Roots: Barneys Downtown

February 25, 2016

Amongst the flurry of NYFW Instagrams flooding my feed lately, there’s been a striking image that keeps popping up. Today the one and only @bravoandy—the connoisseur of all things uniquely NY—posted the same image and it solidified my urge to write about it.

The image I’m referring to is the majestic, white, winding staircase to retail heaven. Yes, it’s the official “welcome back downtown, Barneys” post.

I first stumbled upon the vast building on 7th Avenue between 16th and 17th Street a few weeks back while returning from a client meeting. I had read the articles in all my favorite fashion magazines of the rumbles of the Feb. 2016 opening, but seeing the large Barney’s banner on the façade made it seem real. Being a downtown girl myself, the idea of having this luxe department store steps away from my home was enough to fill my dreams with blissful downtown shopping trips that no longer involve weekends spent on the 6 train schlepping uptown.

As I continued to read about the beloved brand, I was reminded that this was a classic story of a brand returning to its retail roots.

The location is the perfect solution to the fashion-forward crowd who resides downtown and prefers to stay there. Trekking up to Madison Avenue isn’t always a downtown girl’s idea of fun. This prime Chelsea location also fits in perfectly with the development of Hudson Yards as well as residential buildings popping up on the Highline. It provides a sigh of retail relief for all the millennials with disposable income working nearby at Google and Twitter who may need a lunch break fashion fix. I’d be remiss not to mention the fact that the 17th Street space is where Barneys first opened in 1923. This re-opening in the original neighborhood makes me love the brand even more. There is something about a uniquely New York retailer returning to its roots, that builds a sense of heritage and trust with consumers. At the same time, the Chelsea neighborhood now is obviously completely different than it was then, and Barneys seems to want to gain the hearts of this new army of fashion frontiers. The brand is capitalizing on the buzz of the chic location of the space and maximizing the visual impact of the “Instagrammable” white spiral staircase, the image that keeps surfacing across social media as the unofficial, “I’ve been to the downtown Barneys and you have not” shot. Yet, the brand isn’t relying solely on the buzz of the downtown opening to remain relevant. Sales associates inside the store are armed with iPads and you can pay on the spot with Apple Pay. The brands featured in-store cater to the downtown crowd and the interior design aesthetics are modern and more manageable that the uptown location.

Barneys seems know exactly what the downtown crowd wants and how quickly they want it.

So, kudos to Barney’s for returning to their roots, giving the downtown crowd major accessibility to great brands, and for a must-have NYC Instagram moment to blend in perfectly with my #NYFW social media feed.

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