A Barneys Opens in Brooklyn: Will It Be Successful?

Simon Doonan at Barneys Co-Op in Brooklyn

This week, Barneys celebrated the opening of its first Brooklyn Co-op on Atlantic Avenue in the Cobble Hill section of town. The doors opened at 10 a.m. without a line of anxiously waiting shoppers, but a large crowd eventually made its way through the doors once they were open. {Racked NY}

Much has been made of what the reaction among Brooklyn residents will be to the high-end retailer’s presence in their neck of the woods. Brooklyn has become a hot spot for luxury fashion labels in the past few months, as brands like Swarovski Crystal and Anthropologie have been reportedly scouting out locations there, but it has been smaller, trendy shops like Jonathan Adler and Urban Outfitters that have actually been cropping up along Atlantic Avenue of late. {New York Post}

It is still too early to tell exactly what the lasting impact of the Barneys’ presence among these admittedly cooler, more laid-back shops will be, but Barneys Creative Director Simon Doonan seems confident it will be a success.

“The Co-op has always had a certain edgy sensibility. The fit with Brooklyn is a natural one,” he said. {New York Post}

Doonan also told Racked NY that the store made no adjustments to its aesthetic for the Brooklyn Co-op, which carries all the designer brands like Alexander Wang, Richard Chai Love, Helmut Lang and Rag & Bone that you would expect to find at any other Barneys.

Apparently Doonan was quite an active presence at the opening as well, chatting with shoppers and even helping to carry baby strollers down the staircase to the store’s lower level. {Racked NY} He also tried easing the minds of skeptical area residents who worry that the store will bring with it a pretentiousness, telling the New York Post, “”It’s not like we’re opening a Chanel.”

We previously reported that Cobble Hill’s economics are not actually that far off from the more notoriously wealthy Upper East Side and Upper West Side Manhattan neighborhoods, and a Barneys should not be impossible to sustain in the area, though the state of the economy will likely create challenges even with wealthy shoppers living close by. Today, we feel there is one more barrier to success for Barneys: Cobble Hill may have the wealth for a Barneys, but does it have the right vibe? Just because a certain demographic has money does not mean they want to spend it on luxury fashion, and we wonder if people in Brooklyn even want to shop at Barneys.

Success at the Barneys Brooklyn Co-op will likely prove to be somewhat of a challenge. Doonan and Co. should be up for it, but only time will tell how they fare. We actually applaud Barneys for taking a risk in a time when the economy has many retailers in a panic – because taking chances on new ventures will probably be necessary to remain sustainable into the future for fashion retailers. Someone has to lead the way, and Barneys should be commended for stepping up.

Additional photos at Racked NY

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