Black Friday’s New Looks and New Stores

HOUSTON – (By Michelle Leigh Smith for Realty News Report) – Just in time for Black Friday, 20 new retailers have opened their doors inside Houston’s Galleria shopping center. That’s a total of 54,865 SF of buzzy retail. One of the biggest highlights is that Dior has returned to the Galleria with store whose marketing signature bears the face of British beauty Cara Delevingne, modeling pieces from the Dior Gem collection. They are located near Shake Shack and Cheesecake Factory in the original track of the Galleria Mall anchored by Neiman Marcus, on the same side with Chanel.  Their larger-than-life location in the River Oaks District at 4444 Westheimer is firmly entrenched. Years ago, Dior was originally located across from Van Cleef and Arpels in Galleria II near the Disney Store, but the House of Dior departed shortly after the dawn of River Oaks District in October of 2015, opening in September of 2016.

Refuge of the Marvelous

Founded in 1947 at 30 Avenue Montaigne, Christian Dior is one of the world’s preeminent haute couture houses and creators of prêt-a-porter, leather goods, fine jewelry, watches and accessories. Dior interjects its legendary French savoir-faire, rich heritage and luxurious products for Houstonians now in three locations (the Galleria, the River Oaks District, and within Saks Fifth Avenue, on the opposite end of the Galleria). It is a favorite destination of French Consul General Valarie Baraban. Recently, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris singled out the fabled house as her sole destination and raison d’etre, to buy an unforgettable couture dress. “The historic cradle of the revolutionary New Look has undergone a metamorphosis and is now transformed into a unique place like no other in the world: the locus of all possibilities, now unfolding over more than 10,000 square meters. An extraordinary “refuge of the marvelous,” in the words of the late Monsieur Dior.

The River Oaks District boutique carries women’s ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes and accessories, as well as fine jewelry and timepieces while the Galleria store houses more menswear. Dior is the ultimate symbol of timeless elegance and excellence.

Marc Jacobs has opened his first full-line store in Texas in the Galleria in September.  Jacobs began his career designing in a loft with tall white windows in SoHo in 1984.  Jacobs became the youngest designer to receive the New Fashion Talent award granted by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). Influenced by all areas of culture, Jacobs was artistic director at Louis Vuitton for 16 years from 1997 to 2013.

Jacobs now commands 3,000 SF in Texas’ largest fashion mecca, where the most emphatic Marc Jacobs fashion statement is grounded in the varied monogramed pieces.

The company’s website notes of the monogram introduced in Fall 2021: “The monogram has become the ultimate expression of the brand — representing the bold, unlimited world of Marc Jacobs.”

Quick in and out

Other retailers like Lafayette 148 New York, named for the SoHo address where it was founded in 1996, opened near Neiman’s in 1,454 SF right next to the valet parking, attract the city’s top fundraisers and ball bosses.  They appreciate the quick in-and-out access.

Saks maintains its Lafayette 148 collection as will Neiman’s, despite the entry of the new boutique.

The ultra nouveau 1,491-SF Psycho Bunny opened on Level 2, across from the Apple Store above Starbucks.  Based in Montreal, most of the clothes are unisex or men’s but the women’s crew sweatshirts and Bunny tees look like something from a Michael Crichton thriller that an agent might wear while rappelling into the danger zone.

Aerie offers excellence in undergarments, from XXS to XXL and sizes AA to DDD, on Level 2 near Neiman-Marcus.

Music artist Rihanna’s lingerie and intimate line opened in March, with a 2,500 SF brick-and-mortar storefront called Savage X Fenty at 5135 Westheimer, Suite 7295. She already had locations at the Fashion Show in Las Vegas and Westfield Culver City near Los Angeles. Since lingerie often requires a tailored fitting experience to meet size and comfort requirements, the store offers a tech platform FIT: MATCH, with an app titled Fit Xperience, where customers receive a body scan with augmented reality to create a precise 3D body shape or personalized “fit twin.” This allows the lingerie conglomerate to curate personal recommendations of products based on a customer’s exact size and shape. There’s also a digital kiosk in the fitting rooms so customers can scan the product to check pricing or browse through similar suggestions.

Don’t miss the merry

Arabian Oud showcases Oriental perfumes and Western fragrances, next to David Yurman and Indochino, Kids Atelier and Francesca’s have relocated. Other newcomers are Offline by Aerie, Amorino Gelato, Blenders, Beach Bunny Swimwear with 4500 SF and Blue Nile Diamonds in 2206 SF on Level II in the Financial Center.

Capital One 360 Café provides free Wi-Fi and outlets, sort of a mini We Work environment where you can inquire about an auto loan and enjoy some food and a handcrafted coffee beverage, tea or other drinks. A Café Ambassador or Money & Life Mentor are on stand-by and they have a non-profit room or semi-private nooks for meetings that require quiet privacy.

Several of the newcomers focus on healthcare. Forward, a remote doctor service and membership venue opened in May, empowering doctors with technology and data designed to monitor and guide long-term health. Health screenings and services include: Collaborative Smart Screen, Advanced App With 24/7 Connected Care, Genetic Analysis, Biometric Monitoring, Skin Cancer scans and real-time blood testing.

In that vein, for those craving Golden Tumeric chai or Sencha green tea, Steepologie Teas has the largest and freshest collection of tea with 250+ loose leaf tea options, teaware and bagged teas. Reset by Therabody, combining retail and wellness, joins a location in Brentwood, CA and Philadelphia.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels kitchen supply opened seven months ago and sits three doors from Macy’s on the second level.  ATN Corp opened with 1,278 SF; South Moon Under clothing took 1,964 SF and Burger King checked in with 802 SF.

Coming soon, 18,071 SF of new retail: The Woodhouse Day Spa, with 5,110 SF, a second location following their Woodlands venue, and Freebird, a western store, with almost 2000 SF.  Also coming is Sugar Factory Express with 3105 SF and a relocation of Lululemon with a whopping 7,897 SF as well as shoe emporium, A Sneaker City, with 2500 SF.

Keeping shopper safety at top of mind, visitors will notice a heightened security presence. “The Galleria has a highly skilled and experienced security team, and a number of proactive security measures in place, both seen and unseen, including maintaining a continuous security patrol of the property and parking lots,” says Irma Castor, The Galleria’s General Manager.

In the River Oaks District, now open

Frances Valentine, an American lifestyle brand opened in September, followed by La Vie Style House, a luxury women’s lifestyle brand in October. The district now houses 60 stores and restaurants.

Coming soon to the River Oaks District

Zimmermann, a luxury Australian fashion brand with a bohemian vibe; LoveShackFancy, a New York City-based lifestyle brand; Rolex Boutique at de Boulle, a timepiece and vintage watch retailer; Lunya, a women’s clothing and sleepwear store; YellowKorner, a photography gallery with locations around the world; Icon Luxury Sound, an audio/visual equipment supplier and two new restaurants, Little Hen, a breakfast and brunch boutique dining destination, founded in Miami and Ti Amo Restaurant, offering Italian fare and romance.

Other tenants include IPIC Theaters, the fitness club Equinox and Grey House luxury apartments.

Festival Cos. CEO Rosalind Schurgin says, “We continue to expand our mix of world-renowned fashion and jewelry boutiques, while also adding unique lifestyle brands, restaurants, cafes and buzzy hotspots to the District’s offerings,” Schurgin said.

Where did the term Black Friday originate? “Black Friday is dedicated to the freshest deals of the holiday season,” says Claire Fergus of WordWrite. “At the stroke of midnight, or much earlier these days, discounts and deals kick off the race to finish your shopping list. So, what’s with the dark name “Black Friday”?

“The named was popularized in Philadelphia during the 1950s, referring to the 1869 U.S. economic shutdown. After the market crashed, prices were at an all-time low and shoppers took advantage of the discounted prices, with businesses being back “in the black’ after months “in the red.” The name stuck, and now it’s a globalized day of shopping.”


Nov. 25, 2022 Realty News Report Copyright 2022

Image: The Galleria – A Simon Mall. Houston.

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