Nordstrom opens its first standalone men’s store, relying on data to cultivate its foray into New York City.

What happened

  • Nordstrom’s first standalone men’s store—and first store in New York—will open this Thursday in Manhattan. The store enters the market at a time when the menswear industry is growing faster than women’s apparel—in the next three years, it is expected to grow 3%, valuing $33 billion by 2020, up 14% from 2015.

Why it matters

  • The question that plagued Nordstrom while the men’s store concept was in development—which will most likely persist—was how to differentiate the store from other retailers. Nordstrom is up against both the decline in brick-and-mortar retail and department stores. Plus, it will have to decipher how to stand out in one of the biggest and most competitive shopping hubs worldwide—where many of the same products are widely available.
  • In its attempt to answer these questions, the company is combining data with old fashioned customer service. New York is already Nordstrom’s biggest online market, and the company looked at its customer records to filter which brands are most likely to attract shoppers to the store. Focusing on international brands, streetwear and bespoke suits, any brands that are widely available elsewhere will provide exclusive products and styles to Nordstrom. But overall, the men’s store will offer only 200 brands—30% fewer than is typical in the men’s departure at Nordstrom’s full-line stores.
  • The success of the men’s store will speak to the company’s ability to reflect the specificities of New York’s highly differentiated market—an issue that has caused other companies entering New York, such as Seattle-based Totokaelo, to crash and burn. Nordstrom is much larger and more established than Totokaelo ever was, but as a department store whose shares have declined approximately 40% since 2015, there’s pressure on the company to perform well with this new venture. Especially given the continued expansion of its off-price Rack (there are now four NYC locations), opening a successful full-price store could bolster the department store for years to come as a leader in fashion-forward apparel.