Saks Fifth Avenue’s Manhattan flagship hosted a lavish party featuring NBA player James Harden last week to celebrate the company’s renewed commitment to the men’s business. The party marked the opening of the newly renovated men’s section on the seventh floor, the addition of over 125 new men’s brands such as Rhone, Loewe and Jacquemus to Saks.com and the launch of a new men’s brand ambassador program called The Saks Man.
Tracy Margolis, the company’s chief merchandising officer, said the new investment in menswear was inspired by the “significant growth” of the category “over the last few years,” although she declined to provide specific revenue figures.
“While we remain focused on expanding our online offering and creating an unmatched assortment of men’s fashion and accessories on Saks.com, our stores remain an important part of the Saks Fifth Avenue ecosystem,” said Margolis. “The new men’s floor in New York reinforces the power of the in-store experience and exemplifies Saks’ reputation as a fashion authority.”
The new men’s section on the seventh floor includes 19 shop-in-shops from major brands such as Bottega Veneta and Gucci, along with Celine’s first shop-in-shop, called Celine Homme. It also houses Palm Angels’ first store-in-store and Alexander McQueen’s first store-in-store under creative director Sarah Burton.
Louis DiGiacomo, men’s svp and gmm at Saks, said that as Saks’ men’s business grows, its in-store presence will continue to evolve. Saks plans to add more big brands to its menswear section, including Louis Vuitton, Martine Rose and Maison Margiela in the next three months. In addition, the floor has a central atrium space that will feature installations from different brands and artists that will change every few months.
On the digital side, Saks.com, which spun off its brick-and-mortar operations in 2021, also expanded its men’s catalog extensively. Big names like Jacquemus and Junya Watanabe are there, plus there’s a special focus on activewear brands like Rhone, Fair Harbor, Sease and Alo Yoga. Men’s activewear is a fast-growing category expected to reach $450 billion by 2028, according to Grand View Research.
Finally, Saks has a recently launched invitation-only brand ambassador program called The Saks Man, of which Harden is an inaugural member. The ambassadors will promote Saks’ marketing campaigns to their own audience and attend and host Saks events — such as the opening party for the men’s section on the seventh floor. Other early ambassadors include NBA player Quentin Grimes and activist Saad Amer. The structure of the program is almost identical to Saks Social Club, the women’s ambassador program launched in 2021.
The move comes at a difficult time for Saks Fifth Avenue. Its parent company, Hudson’s Bay Company, went private in 2019, and the company does not share details about its finances. But Saks.com laid off 100 people two weeks ago after reportedly doubling its headcount since 2021. Most of the people who lost their jobs were in the technical department.
HBC spun off from Saks.com at a time when e-commerce revenue increased, turning Saks.com into a private company jointly owned by HBC and investment firm Insight Ventures. But e-commerce growth has slowed significantly since then. Retrenchments are an increasingly common way to contain costs when revenues decline due to inflation and reduced spending.
But executives said the men’s business was a bright spot, with DiGiacomo saying December 2022 was a banner month for Saks’ menswear sales, surpassing sales in December 2019.
Men’s clothing as a whole has grown rapidly over the past three years, and the market is expected to reach $547 billion by 2026, according to Euromonitor. Saks has been increasing its investment in menswear for several years. DiGiacomo called menswear an “explosive category” in a 2018 interview with Glossy.
Menswear stylist Taylor Davis told Glossy last year that menswear is where much of the excitement in fashion has been in recent years. Saks Fifth Avenue competitor Nordstrom has invested in its menswear, opening a separate men’s store in 2018 and hiring Highsnobiety’s Jian DeLeon as head of menswear in 2020, for example.
“Dudes care more about what they wear,” Davis said.