Unless it’s a resort town, not many cities with under 300,000 people end up getting five new luxury stores in one fell swoop.
That’s what’s happening beginning this weekend in Plano.
While Plano isn’t a vacation spot, its Legacy West entertainment, hotel, office and residential development will become more of a shopping destination when Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Tory Burch, Chanel Beauty and Gucci open this spring and summer.
Legacy West is benefiting from a trend: Brands want their own stores instead of depending on space inside department stores.
The stores are in a new building — the last one planned for Legacy West — that has office space, apartments and parking above the retail. It’s across from Legacy West’s Food Hall.
The development, a project of Invesco Real Estate, The Karahan Cos. and Columbus Realty, now has 343,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 435,000 square feet of office space and 782 apartments.
Legacy West has evolved since it opened in 2017 with a few stores and restaurants along its main street, Windrose Avenue. It now offers “the best of luxury retail,” said Fehmi Karahan, developer of Legacy West.
Luxury and designer brands are shifting away from department stores to reach their customers directly online and with their own storefronts.
The trend has accelerated as almost 100 upscale department stores closed over the past couple of years. Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom have all closed stores. Barneys New York and Lord & Taylor permanently closed all of their stores after filing bankruptcy.
Upscale malls such as NorthPark Center and The Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey near New York City have also benefited from the trend. At NorthPark, the walk from Nordstrom south to Neiman Marcus and around the corner and down the next corridor is like a stroll through a luxury fashion magazine.
Gucci, Louis Vuitton and other brands have closed their leased departments in some department stores. Gucci has closed in-store shops inside a handful of Neiman Marcus stores.
When Louis Vuitton opens at Legacy West, it will be closing its leased shop inside Neiman Marcus at the Shops at Willow Bend. Legacy West, with its park-and-walk outdoors vibe, has taken customers away from the Shops at Willow Bend.
Neiman Marcus will continue to have a Louis Vuitton shop inside its NorthPark store.
Neiman Marcus said it’s working with brands such as Gucci and Van Cleef & Arpels about transforming its “footprint across the country with new and innovative retail concepts in many locations, including our NorthPark store.” Van Cleef & Arpels is planning to open a store in Highland Park Village.
“Neiman Marcus continues to be an important partner for luxury brands because we know the customer better than any other retailer, we have access to a very loyal luxury customer, and we can provide data and insights to our partners on customer needs in order to make their experience more personalized, and we can do this through our own strong brand equity,” Neiman Marcus said in an emailed response. “Data shows the luxury sector is growing overall, so we plan to work with our partners through multiple channels of distribution.”
Luxury brands have been rebounding during this phase of the pandemic. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which also owns Tiffany & Co. and is the world’s biggest luxury goods group, said this week that its sales increased 32% in the first three months of this year vs. a year ago.
Mark Masinter, managing member of Dallas-based Open Realty Advisors, said he was attracted to Legacy West when he started working with the developers in 2014 because “it wasn’t a (typical) suburban project.”
“Plano is a real center of business,” Masinter said. “I knew if we created a super satisfying mix of retail and restaurants in the first phase and they performed well, I would have an opportunity to attract retailers like the ones about to open.”
Legacy West’s first phase included Neighborhood Goods, Pockets, Frontgate, West Elm, Peloton, Fabletics and lululemon.
“While brands know that they never really need to open another store again, if they can be convinced doing so would be accretive to their brand, they will,” he said.
That’s what he set out to do.
“Retailers know that the best acquisition model is still a store,” Masinter said. He nurtured relationships with the luxury brands he wanted for Legacy West, knowing that when one retailer signed on, others would follow.
Legacy West has some vacancies. Placards on a couple of spaces say Nike and Free People are coming soon. Both have stores at NorthPark, but the Nike store coming to Legacy West is a different concept, Masinter said, and brands are beginning to look at the region as two distinct markets.
“We want to have some turnover and keep things fresh,” Masinter said. That’s a lesson that Dallas shoppers have come to expect at NorthPark, which Masinter says remains in a secure position among the top-tier malls in the U.S.
The five new luxury stores shouldn’t be viewed as a signal that Legacy West is going to go all-luxury, he said. “You’re going to continue to see diverse brands.”