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History of Retail - New York

The city that never sleeps isn’t short of famous hotels, stores and restaurants, and our shop in New York (soon to be two) has some impressive neighbours. Here’s the run-down on some of our favourites

History of Retail - New York

Crockett & Jones has had a permanent home in New York since 2010. When our New York store opened, it was a proud moment for us; our first retail shop in the USA, and our first permanent premises outside of Europe. That first store was just off Fifth Avenue, but we moved 3 years ago to 11 East 55th Street in Midtown Manhattan. Today, this transatlantic outpost is one of our most sizeable stores, with an extensive collection of Mainline and Hand Grade shoes, slippers and driving shoes to peruse.

Previously, we shared a space with another great British brand with a presence in New York, Turnbull & Asser. For a number of years, we were happily ensconced in Midtown’s ‘Turnbull Townhouse’, and occupied a branded ‘shop-in-shop’ from the early 2000s until our move to a stand-alone retail space in 2010. This relationship with Turnbull & Asser is a long-standing one, and one we’re pleased to continue today. Like us, Turnbull is a thoroughbred British manufacturer, with a shirt factory in Gloucester and a tie workshop in Sidcup; we’ve always felt proud to display our fine English shoes alongside the finest English shirts and ties. In fact, you can still pass from our shop at 69 Jermyn Street into Turnbull’s next-door flagship without heading out onto the store.

That said, when we moved to East 55th, the change was a popular one with our staff, not least because our shop now sits opposite one of New York’s finest watering holes, the King Cole Bar in the St Regis Hotel. It has a plenty of claims to fame, most notably as the birth place of the Bloody Mary (although the cocktail was originally called the ‘Red Snapper’ before the fashion for drinking tomato juice with vodka made it to Europe) and it takes its name from the huge oil painting of merry Old King Cole himself, which sits above the bar. It was painted by Mayfield Parrish in 1906 and depicts the king holding court with his chuckling guards, fiddlers and – every bit the ‘merry old soul’ of folklore. We’d heartily recommend that any customer who stops by the shop makes time for a toast to His Royal Highness across the street.

Libations aside, C&J has other long-standing connections to New York’s most prestigious retail destinations. The Big Apple is the historic headquarters of Brooks Brothers, as well as Ralph Lauren, and both have been purveyors of fine Northampton-made English shoes for decades – almost a century in Brooks Brothers’ case. The oldest continually operational men’s clothier in the US, founded in 1818, Brooks Brothers is the father of Ivy League menswear, known for originating the ‘OCBD’, or Oxford cotton button-down shirt, the American sack suit and of course for its timeless blouchers, bals, signature saddle shoes and penny loafers.

Ralph Lauren is a much younger business, founded by Mr Lauren in 1967, but similarly groundbreaking. For over 50 years, Lauren has maintained his reputation for ‘designing dreams’ (to quote the man himself), creating modern clothes inspired by various periods in American history – from midcentury inspired tailoring, to denim Western shirts and cowboy boots. Incidentally, our East 55th Street store is located next to The Polo Bar – another of our favourite Midtown watering holes.

Alongside these two giants, Saks Fifth Avenue is steeped in history. The store was founded in Washington D.C. in 1867 as Saks & Co by Andrew Saks, who had the bright idea to curate a speciality store for luxury goods, with an emphasis on fashion. Andrew died in 1912, but his son Horace merged with another famous department store of the day, Gimbel Brothers, in 1923. The following year, Saks Fifth Avenue opened in New York, with a grand bells-and-whistles opening attending by the city Mayor and boxing heavyweight world champion, Jack Dempsey – a world-class celebrity in his day. In the decades that have followed, Saks has maintained its reputation as one of the finest menswear retailers in America. Following the refurbishment of the store’s footwear department earlier this year, Saks is now a full-fledged stockists of Crockett & Jones shoes.

These are just a smattering of the iconic retail destinations to be found in Manhattan, and within New York-at-large. ‘You can visit New York 20 times and just scratch the surface’, so our shop staff say, but if you visit our store, you can at least be sure that you’re within a stone’s throw of some of the city’s most famous shops of all.

Finally, as we move into our 10th year of own brand retailing in New York, our next grand opening is just around the corner. Spring Street, in the much publicised and trendy SOHO area of downtown New York will be the home of our second store across the pond. We are all very excited to have a duo of stores supporting each other as customers continue the support for our shoes & boots in the US. Full details will be released on the new location over the coming weeks.