NYC's posh Bergdorf Goodman cashes in on the Year of the Ram

Updated: 2015-02-17 00:18

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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Luxury goods New York department store Bergdorf Goodman, whose annual Christmas window displays are considered among the best in the country, is saluting the upcoming Chinese New Year with a special window.

Unveiled over this past weekend, it features clothing from designer Simone Rocha and can be viewed until Feb 25. It is the store's third annual Lunar New Year window display.

"They've been really popular—it's becoming kind of a popular site in New York every year with the Chinese," said Avery Booker, partner at China Luxury Advisors, a luxury brand consultant that has worked with Bergdorf for the last three years.

"Bergdorf is looking at this as a long-term effort, not just as a quick cash-in," said Booker. "A lot of department stores, they look at the Chinese customer as being a one-year thing or two-year thing, whereas Bergdorf sees this as an ongoing program. It really encompasses everything from the moment people walk into the store to when they leave the store."

The midtown Manhattan store features top designer clothing, jewelry, bags, accessories and more. It began to market to the Chinese shopper just a few years ago, and shoppers from China are one of the top-five groups of foreign tourists who shop at the store, according to Lauren Taylor, manager of international marketing and partnerships at Bergdorf.

Bergdorf began offering international shipping to the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong for the first time in December, and previously had only international shipping options for shoppers in Canada.

It has also partnered with UnionPay, the most popular bankcard in China, offering shoppers who pay with a UnionPay debit card the chance to receive a $300 Bergdorf gift card after spending $3,000, or a $500 gift card after spending $10,000.

The store does not yet have personal stylists or personal shoppers who speak Mandarin, but does have staff around the store that help with translating for Chinese customers.

Benjamin Reid, one of the Mandarin speakers at the store, said that he works with an average of five Chinese shoppers a day, though it fluctuates depending on time of year and the holidays, and that he anticipates there will be more for the Lunar New Year rush.

There is a wide range of shoppers from China, from middle-aged customers who come from China just to buy goods that would be much more expensive back home, to students who are on holiday and are shopping with friends, Reid said.

"The other week there was this high schooler who came into the store to get a Chanel watch for her mother," said Reid. "She was in the city after touring colleges in the tri-state area, having visited Princeton, and she came here to shop."

David Yeung, department manager for handbags and accessories, said that the Chinese are still flocking to brands like Chanel, Prada, Hermès and Celine, established brands well known by the Chinese.

Julia Chien, director of strategic initiatives at Bergdorf, said that while Chinese shoppers have always focused on purchasing accessories and handbags at Bergdorf, they're starting to purchase more clothing as well.

"We're starting to see a lot of customers buy a designer head-to-toe look. It's really exciting, because it broadens their shopping habits a lot," she said. "They also tend to be only one designer head-to-toe, so it's up to us as style professionals to tell them to mix and match and to introduce them to new brands."

Bergdorf relocated to the elegant Vanderbilt mansion on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan in 1928. The store is a subsidiary of Neiman Marcus, which is owned by the private-equity firms TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus.