Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Saks Fifth Avenue has always housed the best pieces from the most coveted labels—Chanel, Carolina Herrera, Louis Vuitton, and Valentino are just some of the high-end designer brands worth lusting over in the behemoth department store across from Rock Center. But it hasn't necessarily been a destination to learn about new designers on the cusp of making it big—until now.
Enter the Atrium, part of Saks' newly redesigned second floor, where you can find pieces from younger labels that are deserving of the Saks spotlight. We talked to a few of the bright young things behind these labels recently at a designer meet-and-greet, where they were more than thrilled to be talking about their latest collections now available in the department store.
"Being on this new sort of platform, this new Atrium, you know, has brought a lot of exposure. I think it keeps customers interested because it's something new," said Michelle Ochs of Cushnie et Ochs, a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist in 2011. "Saks Fifth Avenue is such a signature store," added design partner Carly Cushnie. In addition to the flagship location, their clothes are available in several other Saks stores around the country.
The buyers here chose "a lot of our signature pieces," explained Cushnie, which includes items made of stretchy leather and others with cutout details. She described their favorite piece that's now available in Saks: a white long-sleeved dress with an open back and "subtle cutouts" in the front. "It's sexy, yet you're still covered and still elegant and chic," she said.
Another new label to Saks is Ohne Titel, the New York-based knitwear brand and another Fashion Fund finalist. "This Atrium area, it seems like a new, really interesting, experimental concept, and I thought it would be a great way to introduce us to the customers," said Alexa Adams, one-half of the designing duo behind the label. She hopes that this could lead to a store-in-store at Saks in the future.
The pieces that they have at Saks "are the essence of Ohne Titel," Adams continued. "I actually feel like they picked out classics, and pieces that we felt would sell really well, too." That includes an elastic ribbed-knit dress that flares at the bottom—and is reversible. To get two dresses in one at Saks is really getting some bang for your buck.
Amelia Toro was also on hand to discuss the feminine pieces from her eponymous line that have been available at Saks for a couple of seasons. "We do a lot of dresses," she told us, along with a collection of blouses that have been selling well. But despite already having her designs appear twice in the department store's windows, she couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity. "I do believe that dreams come true," said Toro. "I feel very lucky, very privileged, to be able to show here on this floor."
The Atrium is just one small change for Saks, which was recently bought by the Canadian Hudson Bay Co. (fashion fact: they also own Lord & Taylor). This likely means huge changes for the department store, including how buying will proceed and whether some locations will shutter. It goes without saying that the Manhattan flagship will be safe from the latter.—Laura Gurfein
·Vendors Ponder Future with HBC-Owned Saks [WWD]
·Saks' Flagship Was A Steal For Hudson Bay Co. [Racked NY]
·The 38 Essential NYC Shopping Experiences, Summer 2013 [Racked NY]