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Hermès Tempts the Men of Wall Street


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Photo Rena Dumas is the architect of the Hermès store at 15 Broad Street, which opened June 21. To draw men in the predominantly male area, the store moved ties to the front, but it still carries scarves and other articles for women. Credit Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

PEOPLE who live in the financial district of Manhattan do not have a major supermarket to shop in, but if they need a $4,700 custom-made leather dressage saddle or a $47,000 limited edition alligator briefcase, they can slip into the new Hermès store at 15 Broad Street, across from the New York Stock Exchange.

Hermès, the 170-year-old luxury goods company from Paris, opened the store, its second in New York, on June 21, with a special focus on the men who work in the surrounding banks and financial institutions and on the area’s growing residential population, the majority of which is male.

The 4,800-square-foot, single-level retail store, designed by the Paris interior architecture firm RDAI, resembles the other 243 Hermès shops around the globe. But the traditional arrangement of merchandise has been reconfigured to bring men’s clothes and accessories to the front of the store and to the attention of potential male shoppers. The silk twill scarves and signature handbags for women that are usually right inside the door have been edged aside by colorful rows of neckties.

“We sense a lot of potential with that clientele and we want to be able to serve them quickly with shirts, ties, suits and shoes,” said Robert B. Chavez, the president and chief executive of Hermès USA.

Photo Rena Dumas. Credit Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

The store is in a 42-story building in the traffic-free pedestrian zone between Wall Street and Exchange Place. The building is the former headquarters of J. P. Morgan; it was converted two years ago to condominiums designed by Philippe Starck. The new shop is the 17th Hermès store in the United States; the store at 691 Madison Avenue remains the American flagship. Hermès products are also sold across the country in 37 retail stores like Bergdorf Goodman.


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At the new store, where a black, special edition, leather-trimmed Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle was on display in one of the windows last week, the entrance is a glass cube trimmed with a cast iron Greek geometric border that is typical of Hermès stores.

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The rows of colorful neckwear, including one style with a bull and bear motif, against a backdrop of American cherry wood, make an unusual visual statement that is intended to catch male eyes from the street.

The wall of ties continues around a corner into the men’s shop. Its layout is a near-perfect square with an open center and 1,100 square feet of stockroom and administrative space at the rear. Areas dedicated to fragrances and jewelry for both men and women flank the men’s area on either end and help smooth the transition to other small departments.

Photo Credit Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

Rena Dumas, the chief architect of RDAI and of all Hermès stores, describes the interior design as a play on volume and open space that uses walls and a mélange of starkly modern and traditional materials to define each merchandise area as though it were a separate shop, but with unifying design elements.

The store as a whole, however, feels wide open and spacious. “You can be in one place like the women’s area, but see everything else that’s going on,” said Ms. Dumas, who is the wife of the former chief executive, Jean-Louis Dumas, who retired from Hermès in 2006.

A corridor that runs around the interior of the store creates what Ms. Dumas calls a promenade, which is intended to allow shoppers to discover the kinds of merchandise on display. It is paved with the same traditional French mosaic tiles used in the main store in Paris, and illuminated by a mix of traditional early 20th century glass light fixtures and modern recessed lights. Cast iron Greek geometric borders inset in the ceiling further define the walkway.

The promenade leads customers through the men’s department to jewelry, then to an area dedicated to porcelain table settings and crystal glassware. Cherry and glass parson’s-style tables set for a party are a foil to the thick white, opaque shelves that hold more dinnerware patterns and, farther down, a bright array of terrycloth velour beach towels and family-size beach blankets.

Photo Credit Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

A partition of striped, sand-blasted glass separates the women’s section from the rest of the store. Smaller than the men’s section, the women’s area is intimate and the opposite in look and feel from the men’s area. It is modern and bathed in natural light, with glass, mirrors and discreet TV monitors featuring recent Hermès runway shows.


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The area at the center of the store is reserved for the company’s signature products, which are geared to women: the scarves, the well-known handbags like the Kelly (named for Princess Grace) and the Birkin (named for actress Jane Birkin), as well as luggage. In that area, which Ms. Dumas calls “the courtyard,” lights are brighter and ceilings are higher than those along the promenade.

Hermès Wall Street is the first of several high-end retailers coming to the neighborhood. They include Thomas Pink, which opened within the last month, as well as Tiffany & Company and the Italian menswear companies Canali and Brioni, which are scheduled to open in the next year.

The new Hermès is a tapestry of light and dark, glossy and flat, high-tech and historic that reflects the architecture of the neighborhood.

Ms. Dumas compares the textures of the store to a musical composition.

“The rhythm changes, like music that we play loudly then softly,” she said. “We are like orchestra conductors.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page BU28 of the New York edition with the headline: Hermès Tempts The Men of Wall Street. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

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