Posts Tagged ‘New York City department stores’

The cut-rate beginning of Barneys New York

March 24, 2011

Like Saks and Henri Bendel, Barneys New York has long been the epitome of a high-end fashion retailer.

Which makes these unabashedly low-end ads, found on a matchbook from the 1930s or 1940s, all the more interesting.

Seems that luxury department store Barneys was once bargain basement Barney’s, a menswear store openly hawking factory rejects, auction stocks, and showroom models.

Launched by Barney Pressman in 1923, the store began as a 200-foot hole in the wall on Seventh Avenue at 17th Street.

Barney may have been gimmicky, but he also sold quality—soon luring devoted clients to a part of Manhattan known more for its Irish pubs than clothing stores.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that Barney’s son edged the store into the luxury realm.

In the 1970s, Barney’s added a women’s department; in the 1990s, the store (without the apostrophe) decamped the now-blocklong 17th Street store for the Upper East Side, where Barneys holds court today.