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A Saks for Guys

August 03, 1995|WILLIAM KISSEL

Prepare for a retail moment.

Saks Fifth Avenue's second Beverly Hills store is scheduled to open Friday in the former I. Magnin on Wilshire Boulevard. Renovated to preserve many of the crystal and Art Deco chandeliers, moldings and vintage display cases from the original mansard-topped building built in 1945, Saks West gives the New York-based retail chain an additional 60,000 square feet of selling space. The top two floors have been retrofitted to house women's special sizes (petites sizes 0 to 14 and large sizes 14 to 24). But this is mostly a guy thing.

The men's departments on the bottom three floors are done in crisp antique white and birch-paneled walls that complement the original marble floors and wrought-iron and frosted glass windows. Unlike the old men's department--15,000 square feet on the fifth floor of the main store--this space is airy and contemporary, all the better to showcase such labels as Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Moschino and Versace Jeans Couture, as well a long list of exclusive tailored brands. Footwear is on the first floor, formal wear on the second. If the store has a drawback, it's the absence of escalators.

"The new store gives us the opportunity to offer a full men's clothing department," says Wayne Meichner, senior vice president in charge of menswear. "We won't be showing so much the dumb classic stuff, because L.A. doesn't want that from us."

Competing in an area already top-heavy with menswear stores, including Barneys New York and Bullock's Men's Store, means promoting upscale yet understated "fashion with a twist," he says. "Men in L.A. and New York essentially share the same sophistication. But the L.A. lifestyle allows men to take more liberties with their wardrobes, which to me is a plus because you have a greater opportunity to sell them more things."

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