Barneys New York is one of the most luxurious shopping department stores in the world. Brands like Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Hermes, and Chanel all find their home here, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to high-end, internationally renowned designers.
The store’s headquarters is New York City, but they have outposts in 37 other locations, Chicago being one of them. Here we explore how the store came to be the premiere shopping destination for celebrities and lovers of luxury the world over.
Barney’s was founded in 1923 when Barney Pressman pawned his wife’s engagement ring for $500 dollars to launch a small retail space. It was called Barney’s Clothes and carried 40 brand name suits. Word about the store quickly spread, and before people knew it Barney Pressman was capitalizing on radio and print advertising and bringing more and more people into the store everyday.
Barney’s initial approach to business was very different than it is today. He attracted customers by offering low prices on samples and overstocks, free parking and complimentary alterations. But his main priority was service
He’s quoted as saying, “The best value you can offer a customer is personal attention to every detail, and they will return again and again. Ultimately, the customer cares the most about how he or she is treated.” Barney’s regulars can attest to the fact that Pressman’s philosophy is still represented in his stores today.
“No Bunk, No Junk, No Imitations.”
In the 70s, Barney’s son Fred took over, which led to a major shift for the store– he really began embodying his dad’s famous slogan, “No bunk, no junk, no imitations.” His idea was to bring in more high-end Italian designers and start catering to more affluent customers.
Big changes included the introduction of women’s clothing in 1976 and the opening of a café a year later– it was obvious by then that the store was truly becoming a shopping and cultural mecca for New Yorkers. It’s interesting to note that the very first Barneys outside of Manhattan was our own store on Oak Street.
Barneys is a luxurious department store that can satisfy the needs of anyone, no matter what their style is. Brands like Rick Owens utilize draping patterns and dark colors that create aesthetics of a Jedi, punk rocker, or modern day rapper. Saint Laurent creates amazing leather jackets perfect for a rock and roller. Rag and Bone offers the best fitting jeans for women who like to dress casually. VisVim creates pieces that are perfect for someone with a bohemian style. And Hermes is wonderful for the suave businessman or woman.
Despite the fact that the Pressman family no longer owns the stores, we think that Barney himself would be proud of what his namesake brand is today. Its high-end clientele is certainly different than Barney’s first customers, but people still flock to the store for the same reason as his first customers did: an unwavering commitment to quality and service.