The humble beginnings of two fashion giants

Luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman has been at its current location on Fifth Avenue and 58th Street for over 70 years.

Which is why it’s easy to forget that like most massive New York City retailers, the company started small much farther down Fifth Avenue.

On a grimy, neon-lit stretch of 32nd Street just east of Fifth Avenue stands the second Bergdorf building, constructed in 1906. Here, Herman Bergdorf, immigrant tailor from Alsace, ran a successful ladies tailoring shop until he outgrew the space in the 1920s.

The Lerner company also got its start in midtown with a small namesake building.

In 1907, this once-huge mass market fashion chain—does the label even exist anymore?—opened on Seventh Avenue in the 30s as a plus-size retailer.  

See the green and yellow emblems flanking the top of the facade? They’re quite a majestic touch!

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3 Responses to “The humble beginnings of two fashion giants”

  1. Lilly Says:

    I’m wondering if the Lerner Company you speak of is the same Ladies Lerner Co Brand that then changed to NYC & CO. The website nyandcompany.com states the brand was started by the Lerner Brothers in 1918 & is one of the oldest retailers in the country. I want to say about 10 years ago when i was still studying fashion in college they were all under the Limited Brand – but that could have changed now. Hope this helps 🙂

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I think it is. The fact that it was absorbed into the Limited brand and then NYC & Co explains why I couldn’t find a single store address.

    I remember there was a Lerner’s on 34th Street around Sixth Avenue, but that was over a decade ago. Thanks for the info!

  3. Ricky Says:

    They changed their name from Lerner to Lerner New York in the early 80’s. I worked there as a fashion illustrator for a short time in 1982 when they were trying to change their image to something more fashion conscience.

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