Barneys Returns to Chelsea

Scott Frances

We couldn’t wait to take a first look at the brand’s second New York flagship—and snag exclusive finds that aren’t available uptown.

In a move that’s at once nostalgic and forward-looking, the iconic New York department store opened their new 16th Street and Seventh Avenue location on Monday at the site of the original Barneys, founded in Chelsea in 1923, which shuttered in 1997.

The 55,000-square-foot space is a godsend to shoppers who don’t often venture north of 18th Street—and those who simply don’t want to spend hours sorting through the Madison Avenue flagship’s 10 well-stocked floors when the craving for retail therapy strikes. The new shop’s smaller size means a better shopping experience and a tighter Barneys edit, with a greater concentration of exclusive items including several specific to the downtown location. 

"In celebration of the opening, we partnered with our designers to create XO Exclusively Ours capsule collections for our Chelsea flagship,” says executive vice president Jennifer Sunwoo. "It was important to offer a unique and differentiated product assortment to our downtown customers.” 

While a number of these exclusives will be rolled out over the next few weeks and months—mark your calendars for a Derek Lam PF16 ready-to-wear capsule collection that launches in May—many pieces have already hit the floor. The black-and-candy-colored python Proenza Schouler bags ($1,790) that greet you by the door are a particularly lust-worthy beacon of the XO items to come; downstairs in beauty, you’ll find a new, exclusive men's scent from Frederic Maile called Monsieur. Don’t miss several one-of-a-kind XO jewelry pieces from Irene Neuwirth, Tate, and Sidney Garber in the sleek jewelry room, and upstairs in women’s ready-to-wear and shoes seek out sweaters by Elder Statesman (including a black-and-white number that announces “Chelsea” across the chest), as well as capsule collections from Valentino and Alexander Wang. We also noted a few pieces that aren't exclusive to the shop, but according to staffers haven’t yet hit shelves uptown, including sumptuous, sculptural Dries Van Noten jackets in vivid jewel tones ($2,435). 

"We also featured new launches specifically in the downtown store, including Shiro Sakai’s debut collection for RTW, Rafaele Canot jewelry, Baraboux accessories, and the Heretic fragrance collection by Douglas Little, which is exclusive to Barneys worldwide,” says Sunwoo.   

But don’t just come for the goods. The airy, gallery-like space—which softens the would-be overwhelming focal point of a huge, white, Andrée Putman–inspired staircase with a backdrop of organic materials and natural light—creates a pleasurable browsing experience that feels intimate and personal without ever getting claustrophobic. Little extras like the Blind Barber on the foundation level, offering haircuts, shaves, and beard trims (from $25) alongside indulgences like coffee and cocktails, and the store's full digital integration—which includes iPads in the hands of staffers that allow clients to easily browse back stock or similar items at other locations, and an app that helps patrons discover new pieces in-store based on their preferences—give you the feeling that the place was designed with a shopper's sense of well-being in mind. 

"We are focused on offering superlative customer experience across all of our stores and online,” Sunwoo notes. “The downtown flagship will hopefully reflect the most thorough representation of these endeavors.” 

During our visit, dozens of happy shoppers buzzed about the homecoming with what felt like as many or more staffers, who were quick to introduce themselves, offer a hand, and ask your thoughts on the new space. Their genuine excitement for the launch was infectious. 

With more exclusives to come, and the soon-to-open restaurant Fred’s on the top floor (serving Italian small plates and cocktails) you’ve got every excuse to visit soon—and often.