The Saks Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan hosted a swanky party featuring NBA player James Harden last week, in celebration of the company’s renewed commitment to the men’s business. The party commemorated the opening of the newly renovated men’s section on the seventh floor, the addition of over 125 new men’s brands like Rhone, Loewe and Jacquemus to Saks.com, and the launch of a new men’s brand ambassador program called The Saks Man.
Tracy Margolies, the company’s chief merchandising officer, said the new investment in menswear was inspired by the “significant growth” of the category “over the past several years,” though she declined to provide specific revenue figures.
“While we remain focused on expanding our online offering and creating an unparalleled assortment of men’s fashion and accessories on Saks.com, our stores remain a crucial part of the Saks Fifth Avenue ecosystem,” Margolies said. “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 seventh floor men’s section includes 19 shop-in-shops from big brands like Bottega Veneta and Gucci, along with Celine’s first-ever shop-in-shop, called Celine Homme. It also houses Palm Angels’ first-ever shop-in-shop and Alexander McQueen’s first shop-in-shop under creative director Sarah Burton.
Louis DiGiacomo, svp and gmm of men’s at Saks, said that as Saks’ men’s business grows, its presence in-store will continue to evolve. Saks has plans to add more big brands to the men’s ready-to-wear 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 rotate out every few months.
On the digital side, Saks.com, which split its operations off from the brick-and-mortar business in 2021, has also expanded its men’s catalog widely. Buzzy brands like Jacquemus and Junya Watanabe are there, plus there’s a particular focus on activewear brands like Rhone, Fair Harbor, Sease and Alo Yoga. Men’s activewear is a rapidly growing category expected to reach $450 billion by 2028, according to Grand View Research.
Finally, Saks has a newly launched invite-only brand ambassador program called The Saks Man, of which Harden is the inaugural member. Ambassadors will promote Saks marketing campaigns to their own audiences and attend and host Saks events — like the opening party of the seventh floor men’s section. Other early ambassadors include NBA player Quentin Grimes and activist Saad Amer. The structure of the program is nearly identical to Saks Social Club, the women’s ambassador program launched in 2021.
The move comes at a tenuous time for Saks Fifth Avenue. Its parent company, Hudson’s Bay Company, went private in 2019 and the company doesn’t share details of its financials. 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 tech department.
HBC split off Saks.com at a time when e-commerce revenues were surging, turning Saks.com into a private company co-owned by HBC and investment company Insight Ventures. But the growth of e-commerce has significantly slowed since then. Layoffs are an increasingly common way to rein in expenses when revenues are down due to inflation and lowered spending.
But executives said the men’s business has been a bright spot, with DiGiacomo saying that December 2022 was a banner month for Saks’ sales of men’s clothing, exceeding December 2019 sales.
Menswear, in general, has been rapidly growing over the last three years, and the market’s expected to reach $547 billion by 2026, according to Euromonitor. Saks has been upping its investment in menswear for several years now. DiGiacomo called menswear an “explosive category” in a 2018 interview with Glossy.
Menswear stylist Taylor Davies told Glossy last year that menswear is where a lot 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 instance.
“Dudes are caring more about what they’re wearing,” Davies said.