Domenico Vacca's new concept store expands the luxury in-store experience

Domenico Vacca, the Italian fashion designer whose ready-to-wear styles have dressed celebrities like Glenn Close, Denzel Washington and Jeremy Piven, is rethinking his in-store strategy. Instead of a collection of small specialty stores, the designer is launching a full “lifestyle experience for the 1 percent.”

Vacca has four New York City stores, the first of which opened on Fifth Avenue in 2002. But in the next month, they’ll all close their doors, to be replaced with a new concept store, also on Fifth Avenue, that in addition to apparel and accessories will feature an Italian cafe, barbershop, women’s salon, members-only club, rooftop terrace and 30 long-term residencies.

“This is the future of luxury retail,” said Vacca. “It’s not enough to open a sales floor and expect people to come in anymore. You have to offer them an experience.”

The entrance of Domenico Vacca's new store.
The entrance of Domenico Vacca’s new store.

“Experience” has become a watchword for retailers as they try to get customers to spend face time with their brands rather than shop online. Online experiences can be clunky, but the in-store component, with its pampering salespeople, is still key to luxury shopping. Vacca, whose revenue is about 70 percent from physical store sales, expects the new store will see about 500 visitors a day, slightly more than his previous four stores combined.

Vacca is also targeting his affluent shoppers (his suits run at around $2,600) with high-end customer service beyond their wardrobes. DV Club, the private club, will let members and three guests eat and drink for “free” — for a $1,800 monthly membership. Members also will be able to see fashion shows in the club, alongside the press.

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A rendering of the DV Club.

Vacca’s new flagship follows a similar move by Barneys, which recently reopened its Chelsea flagship store with a point-of-sale and personalization system to help salespeople better know their customers. The new Barneys has a beacon network that can connect in-store shoppers’ online wish lists or shopping carts to their phones.

Domenico Vacca’s future concept store won’t have a beacon network, but employees will have iPads to speed checkout, and tablets will be available throughout the store for customers to browse online options.

“Today’s shoppers have elevated expectations for the in-store experience,” said Jason Goldberg, svp of commerce and content practice at Razorfish. “Customers expect sales associates to have at least as much information and capabilities as a retailer’s website, which is why equipping sales associates with digital tools like tablets is so important.”

Vacca’s new store is set to open in New York on March 15. If it’s successful, he plans to expand the concept to other cities including Milan and Paris.