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By tomorrow morning, Forever 21's floral-print sweaters will have officially replaced Takashimaya's bouquets. We thought we'd still be mourning the former retailer's Fifth Avenue flagship shuttering, but a walk-through this morning forced us to face the disturbing fact that this might be the best Forever 21 in the city.
When it comes to aesthetics, this one was done right. From the second floor's candle display and the Madewell vibes on the third floor to the sixth floor men's department that legitimately looks like a downtown boutique, it feels as though you're constantly entering a new store. Since the sections are compartmentalized, you don't wind up being completely overwhelmed by flannels, sequin dresses, and denim. And with multiple levels, there's ample opportunity to empty your hands in mid-shopping dressing room pitstops.
The layout feels like a fresh alternative to Forever 21's massive new Times Square location. But although we didn't visit every floor—the fourth and fifth were still being beautified for tomorrow's grand opening—we can already spot two main issues that, if you know how to work around them, will make shopping there a breeze.
First up: There are six floors, it's in a highly trafficked tourist area, and it's hard for two people to squeeze down the stairwell at the same time. Multiple floors may mean multiple dressing rooms and cashiers, but to get to them, you'll have to climb and squeeze, or sit and wait for the elevator. Your best bet is to take the stairs on the way up and check out on one of the top floors, since crowds will likely be pooling around the first floor's checkout.
Then, there's the other pitfall: Shoes. The first floor rotunda has some mega-cute pairs on display, but that's it. Unless you want knee-high boots hanging from the nearby racks, you'll have to ask a staffer to trek in back to find your size. Plus the shoes are located directly next to the shop's front door, so shopping for them could mean disaster on a packed day. Try going closer to closing time, when fewer tourists are shuffling down Fifth Avenue.
Forever 21 has only leased the spot for 6 months, so the well-dressed mannequins could be rolled out as easily as they were rolled in. We never, ever thought we'd say this, but here's hoping the wonderland of discount dresses sticks around until it's warm enough to wear them.
· Takashimaya Building Finally Has a Retail Taker: Forever 21 [Racked NY]
· Forever 21 Opens on Fifth Avenue [WWD, subscription req'd]