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Chic Downtown Stores Moving to Madison Avenue

By Amy Zimmer | June 1, 2012 8:18am
Jordana Brewster, Whitney Port, Sophia Bush and Ashley Tisdale attend the Rebecca Taylor Spring 2012 fashion show.
Jordana Brewster, Whitney Port, Sophia Bush and Ashley Tisdale attend the Rebecca Taylor Spring 2012 fashion show.
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Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — The Whitney Museum of American Art may be leaving its Madison Avenue home for hipper cobble stone streets of the Meatpacking District, but its Uptown block is soon getting an injection from edgier Downtown shops.

Three stores — the trendy Paris import Sandro along with celeb faves Rebecca Taylor and Vince — signed leases in May to move to 980 Madison Ave., between East 76th and 77th streets and are expected to open later this year, according to RKF, the real estate firm that helped broker the deals. 

They will be joining other newcomers nearby on the avenue that appeal to younger fashionistas, such as Zadig & Voltaire and Maje (both popular Paris labels), Proenza Schouler and Rag & Bone. Also, once the Whitney moves out of its iconic Marcel Breuer building in 2015 to its new digs on Gansevoort Street, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will take over the Madison Avenue space for at least eight years, focusing on modern and contemporary art.

“980 Madison Ave. provides tremendous exposure in a retail corridor that has fast-become the chosen location for traditionally downtown fashionable brands to make their mark uptown,” said RKF’s Managing Director Beth Rosen, “as they’ve come to realize that their customer base lives in this chic neighborhood.”

Rebecca Taylor — a New Zealand designer based in New York, who has outfitted the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Middleton — is adding a 4,338-square-foot flagship boutique on the Upper East Side to her roster of city shops, one on Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District and one on Mott Street in NoLita.

Sandro, a ubiquitous presence in tony Paris neighborhoods, has a shop on Bleecker Street in the West Village and recently opened another one on Prince Street in NoLita. It’s now also moving into the 2,037-square-foot Madison Avenue spot formerly occupied by high-end eyeglass store Alain Mikli.

Vince, which is known for its denim and cashmere and reportedly is worn such stars as Kate Hudson and Cate Blanchett, is opening a 3,770-square-foot shop on the block, after winning a following at its NoLita and Meatpacking District shops.

“As contemporary luxury brands, these are all stores at their fashion apogee right now,” said Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District. “These are hot brands. They are recent entrants in the luxury market place that are staking their claim to Madison Avenue.”

Bauer, too, said that these stores are moving to Madison Avenue because their customers liver here.

“When you think of what Madison Avenue is about, it’s not only a brand they’re buying into. They’re also buying into a very strong local market,” he said.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these three stores are in a one-block radius of the the Carlyle, the Mark and the Surrey hotels.

Plus, the building at 980 Madison Ave., owned by Aby Rosen, is a hub in its own right, home to the Gagosian Gallery, among other art galleries, and the Exhale Spa.

“You see this cluster of uses in this one building that all support one another,” Bauer said, “and is across the street from all these hotels.”

But Bauer was quick to note that established brands still reign supreme on Madison Avenue. Faberge just opened a shop near East 63rd Street. A men’s outpost for Bottega Veneta at East 67th Street also just launched. A major Pucci flagship coming to the block between East 70th and 71st streets and a new Valentino store coming near East 65th Street, near where Giorgio Armani just overhauled its flagship, Bauer pointed out.

And opening just across the street from the trendy trio is the French leather handbag and glove shop, Perrin Paris — a company that’s been around since 1893.

“There’s a balance of very established luxury brands and brands that have new reached a new height in their development of their luxury brand,” Bauer said.