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Shoe Department Showdown: Saks, Macy's, and Barneys

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The contenders: Saks, Macy's, and Barneys
The contenders: Saks, Macy's, and Barneys

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This year, three of the city's biggest department stores—Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, and Barneys all opened opulent, massive, over-the-top shoe departments. In the spirit of friendly competition, we attempted to determine how they stack up against each other in a series of objective measurements.

So: We sent several Racked spies to each store, armed with just a notebook and a ruler (you'll see where that comes in later.) The result? Now you know just about everything imaginable about each shoe floor—from the level of attentiveness of the staff, to how comfortable the seating is, and which places Oprah and Sarah Jessica Parker have since frequented.

1. What is the general vibe of the place? Loud or quiet? Casual or formal?
Saks: Fairly loud, and kind of like a glitzy cocktail party. With shoes. Lots of tea lights, glass orbs, and crystal chandeliers.
Macy's: Very loud. Like a 16+ club.
Barneys: Casual and elegant, comparable to a high-end hotel lobby. People are speaking with indoor voices.

2. Are men's shoes included, or is the selection just for women?
Saks: No.
Macy's: No.
Barneys: Yes, but the section is significantly smaller than the women's area.

3. How many other shoppers do you see?
Saks: 75 to 100.
Macy's: Maybe a zillion.
Barneys: 30 to 50.

4. If you had to guess, where would you think most of the shoppers were from? a) the Upper East Side; b) downtown Manhattan; c) the rest of NYC; d) the rest of the country; e) the rest of the world
Saks: The Upper East and Upper West Side, with downtowners and tourists mixed in.
Macy's: Midtowners, out-of-towners, and just about everyone else.
Barneys: A mix of Upper East Siders, tourists, and maybe a little bit of Tribeca. Oh, and Sarah Jessica Parker. In the Manolo Blahnik section.

5. How would you describe the decor in three words?
Saks: Bubbly, sparkly, glitzy.
Macy's: Trendy, monochrome, youthful.
Barneys: Luxe, posh, elegant.

6. Are they playing music? What kind?
Saks: Updated elevator music. Forgettable, but smooth.
Macy's: Loud Top 40 spun by an actual DJ.
Barneys: A mix of modern elevator, Foster the People, and SBTRKT—depending on the time of day.

7. How attentive is the sales staff? How long does it take for them to offer to help you when you walk in?
Saks: No assistance offered on the less expensive side of the store. On the designer side, a sales associate popped by every minute.
Macy's: Interactions ranged from none-at-all to way-to-much.
Barneys: Present and willing to help, but not pushy. Good noses for shoppers versus browsers.

8. On a scale of 1 to 10, with one being a ditch by the side of the road and 10 being a fluffy pink cloud, how comfortable is the seating?
Saks: 7.
Macy's: 5.
Barneys: 7. It's a tie!

9. What brands are they really pushing? Are any labels especially prominent?
Saks: Louis Vuitton has its own salon, and Louboutin has a very large display. Rachel Zoe, Rachel Comey, and Rag & Bone are also getting a lot of play.
Macy's: Cole Haan, Michael Kors, Via Spiaga, Marc Fisher, Steve Madden. And there were plenty of posters for Madonna's Truth or Dare line.
Barneys: Large sections for Louboutin and Prada, as well as Chanel and Manolo Blahnik.

10. How high is the highest available heel?
Saks: Giuseppe Zanotti platform booties (8 inches with hidden platform).
Macy's: L.A.M.B. Dolores Pumps, 5 ¾ inches.
Barneys: Alaïa pumps, 5.5 inches

11. How expensive is the most expensive shoe you can find?
Saks: Nude bedazzled Louboutins, $6,395.
Macy's: L.A.M.B. Hilda Boots, $595.
Barneys: Louboutin Croc Simple Pumps, $4,643.

12. How cheap is the cheapest shoe you can find?
Saks: Saks Fifth Ave flip-flops, $158.
Macy's: Penny Loves Kenny jelly flip-flops, $4.99.
Barneys: F-Troupe rubber lace ups, $45.

13. What's the square footage of the shoe floor?
Saks: 16,650 square feet of selling space (and 15,500 for storage.)
Macy's: 63,000 square feet, including the selling floor and stockroom.
Barneys: 22,000 square feet.

14. How many pairs of shoes are they selling?
Saks: Unknown. But! They've added 11 new designers.
Macy's: In total, 300,000 pairs.
Barneys: Unknown. But! They've added 350 new styles.

15. What notable celebrities did they rope in to helping celebrate the debut?
Saks: 30 Rock's Katrina Bowden.
Macy's: Oprah. Win.
Barneys: Debra Messing.

16. Finish this sentence: "This shoe department is best if you're looking for _________."
Saks: ...Louis Vuitton heels or going to a wedding in New Jersey.
Macy's: ...inexpensive shoes or Steve Madden-type brands.
Barneys: ...a bank-account busting purchase.

· The Saks Shoe Department Is Getting a Revamp [Racked NY]
· Macy's Debuts a Big Chunk of Its New Gigantic Shoe Floor [Racked NY]
· Barneys' Shoe Salon: Now Grander Than You Thought Possible [Racked NY]

Cole Haan

128 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012 212-219-8240 Visit Website

Macy's

151 West 34th Street, Manhattan, NY 10001 (212) 695-4400 Visit Website

Rachel Comey

95 Crosby St, New York, NY 10012 212-334-0455 Visit Website