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The Polo Ralph Lauren flagship store on Fifth Avenue was always supposed to cater to tourists, and that it does: With friendly employees clad in autumnal outfits, Native American–esque textiles and cozy fireplaces, it draws in the crowds with pep, prep and a whole lot of color. What's far less expected is the store's second floor, which includes a gorgeous shoe atrium and the much-discussed café.
Walking into Polo, which opened its doors this week, you'll notice it looks (and smells, for that matter) a bit like the Abercrombie & Fitch in your hometown mall—if that Abercrombie & Fitch happened to be decorated with motorcycles, electric guitars, black cellos, and kayaks. It's woodsy and nostalgic, yet the amount of rainbow-bright polos lining the walls, along with an odd pink-and-green neon sign reading "Navajo Lodge," make the store feel a bit unsure of itself.
Head upstairs to the women's section, and you'll find a lot more breathing room. Each nook is filled with a different Polo look: there's the expected dosage of sporty vests, an area for flowy dresses and other Free People-ish garments, and a section for the brand's more modern offerings, like pleated leather mini skirts and Peter Pan–collar dresses. The shoe atrium—overlooking Fifth Avenue—is by far the most beautiful of such nooks, with leather armchairs and a massive Persian rug.
The real draw here, though, is the café, exemplary of a larger push among retailers to move further into the realm of lifestyle stores. Polo serves its own eponymous blend of coffee made from Central and South American beans (which we can confirm is quite good). There are also muffins, parfaits, sandwiches, and green juices supplied by Liquiteria.
Should all the spots in the bright and airy (albeit teeny) café be taken, you're free to bring treats to a long, wooden table flanked by bookshelves in a nearby nook.
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