Saks Fifth Avenue has transformed much of the 10th floor of its Manhattan flagship into a new format called “The Studio” for a different way of working and attracting talent.
The Studio provides space for personal shoppers, digital sellers, independent stylists, content creators and influencers working to promote and sell merchandise from the Saks digital and Saks Fifth Avenue brick-and-mortar channels to their client networks.
It’s another attempt by Saks to get better productivity out of a higher level that previously housed a SaksWorks communal work setting for a few seasons. After HBC, the parent company of Saks, invested in Convene, a provider of communal workspace, Convene began operating certain SaksWorks locations, including the 10th floor of the Saks flagship from September 2021 to May 2023. Before Convene moved to the space, which occupies about 13,000 square feet, the floor housed lingerie, children’s wear, swimwear and coats.
“I was challenged with our team to reimagine the space, and instead of going backwards in time, thinking about putting merchandise on the floor, we thought about how we could look at the space differently by putting people on the floor,” Matt Brown, vice president and director of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship, told WWD.
At the flagship, style advisers either work on the selling floor or within the Fifth Avenue Club personal styling service, but over the past five years or so they started to generate business remotely on their own, Brown said. “We had 10-plus individuals who were highly productive and really inspired me and my team to say, ‘we think there’s more people like that out there that could use a space like The Studio at Saks Fifth Avenue where we could attract talent that’s not necessarily interested in working on the floor or in The Fifth Avenue Club. Hence, The Studio at Saks Fifth Avenue was born. We want to attract talent that want to be working in an environment like the Saks ecosystem,” whether it’s an independent stylist, a content creator or an influencer with a social media following.
In addition to having access to merchandise from the Saks stores and website, The Studio has unique resources, Brown said, including a set for filming, a photo studio, an edit zone for content creation and work stations.
“Normally we’re attracting people who want to work on the floor, or someone who works in personal shopping at a competitor that wants to work in ours. Now, with our talent acquisition team, we’re going out to the labor market with a new narrative.” Those working at The Studio are on commission. So far there are 10-plus workers, Brown said, with flexible work schedules. There are also Saks employees assisting those hired to work in The Studio.
“The basis of this business was people who were selling remotely with their client books were not working on the floor or in personal shopping, and weren’t really physically wardrobing someone,” Brown explained. “That’s why we’re looking at people who perhaps don’t have a landing strip of a retailer, like an outside stylist, like a content creator, who maybe has a big social media following. Or maybe they’ve never worked in retail before.”
The Studio opened last month. Saks executives don’t consider it a test. “We’re committed to this,” Brown said. “We’re really challenging ourselves to be innovative and think differently.”
It’s also more plausible and a better fit than establishing a casino in the flagship. Richard Baker, chairman of Saks Fifth Avenue’s owner HBC, last January proposed putting a casino on floors nine, 10 and 11 of the Saks Fifth Avenue store situated on 49th and 50th Streets between Fifth and Madison Avenues. With The Studio, the casino idea seems to have been shelved.