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Inside the Brand New, Beautiful Barneys New York Downtown Flagship

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Today, Barneys New York finally returns to Chelsea via a sprawling, four-floor flagship on Seventh Avenue. It feels surprisingly warm and inviting, or at least as warm and inviting as a department store can be, and it's significantly less overwhelming than the grand maze that is the uptown flagship. If Barneys Madison Avenue is the Met, — a sprawling labyrinth you should really devote an entire day (if not more) to — Barneys Chelsea is the new Whitney: a tight selection that's able to be seen and enjoyed in its entirety in a much smaller block of time.

But if you want to stay longer, that's definitely possible too, especially since they also added a Fred's restaurant for refueling.

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The store itself is beautiful, with mirrored stainless steel columns, marble-lined walls, plush carpeting in the shoe salons and ready-to-wear departments, and brass tables and velvet seats sprinkled throughout. But the real selling point is that it's a convenient shopping destination for anyone who lives, works, and predominantly hangs out downtown that doesn't make sacrifices in terms of selection.

Here's the breakdown: cosmetics, perfumes, and skincare are all on the lower level, as is a special Blind Barber that offers men's haircuts, shaves, and beers. The ground level is devoted to men's and women's accessories, from bags to jewelry to sunglasses and more. The second floor is for women's shoes and ready-to-wear, and the same categories for men can be found on the third. Each is connected with a white spiral staircase — there's no old-school escalators here.

The white spiral staircase at the center of Barneys Downtown Photo: Khushbu Shah for Racked

Modernity runs throughout the department store. Sales associates are equipped with iPads that are synced up with a clienteling system that pulls data from shoppers' spending habits and designer preferences, both in-store and online. You can also check out with Apple Pay right on the spot.

The designer edit is a natural extension of what Barneys did with its Upper West Side store in 2013, when it transitioned from a co-op that only sold contemporary labels to a luxury outpost that carries Chanel and Saint Laurent side-by-side with Alexander Wang and Anya Hindmarch. There's no longer a barrier between storied fashion houses and young, modern brands, and nowhere is this more clear at the Chelsea store than in a nook on the men's floor that houses printed silk Gucci bomber jackets right next to Vetements hoodies.

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"I think we really tried very hard to make this as curated and edited as possible, and really reflect the neighborhood," Barneys chief operating officer Daniella Vitale said. "It's a great juxtaposition and mix of brands, and there are a lot of exclusives." (The exclusives are something the company has been hyping up in anticipation of the launch.)

"Everyone worked really hard as a team on this, which I think has made a big difference," Vitale added. "I think sometimes a lot of the buyers can go in different directions, but this is really something that we all worked on collectively so that it all made sense."

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Check it out for yourself when the doors open to the public for the very first time this morning at 10am.