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Retailers Bank on Fashion and Food to Lure Consumers Back to Stores

Dining and shopping with friends might feel like a faraway dream, but as cities across the U.S. reopen this summer, retailers and restaurants are joining forces to bring back a sense of normalcy and joy to consumers’ routines. After making it through a challenging year, fashion retailers are doing their part to support restaurants in the wake of Covid-19. Both industries were hit especially hard during the pandemic, with restaurant and store closures annihilating businesses around the world.

Joining the likes of Nordstrom, Tommy Bahama and Gucci, L.A. icon Fred Segal launched its own plan for supporting local eateries and drawing more foot traffic to its store in the process. As part the retailer’s 60th anniversary “Summer of Love” celebrations, it’s offering a residency program that provides restaurants with a temporary, rent-free popup space at Fred Segal’s location in Malibu Village.

Happening now through July 18, the program will host a different restaurant each weekend, including L.A. staples like Shappy Pretzel Co., Bridgetown Roti and Sweet Vices. A portion of Fred Segal’s proceeds generated during the popup event will be donated to Heal the Bay, an environmental nonprofit that supports the greater Los Angeles area.

Fashion brands and retailers are doing their part to support restaurants in the wake of Covid-19 by opening pop-up eateries at stores.
Fred Segal @fredsegalmalibu/Instagram

“As a brand that was born and raised in Los Angeles with over 60 years of heritage, Fred Segal is passionate about supporting small, local businesses that make our incredible city what it is,” said Jeff Lotman, CEO of Global Icons and Fred Segal chairman. “Restaurants are a huge part of our culture and what sets Los Angeles culture apart. During the past year, our local restaurants were hit hard, which is why we are proud to support the restaurant community in this way.”

Fred Segal’s popup concept follows a host of new collaborations between fashion and dining establishments as both industries hope for a strong rebound in foot traffic and sales.

As of May 19, New York City restaurants can reopen at full capacity. That wasn’t the case, however, when the famous Parisian tearoom Angelina, best known for its thick hot chocolate and Mont Blanc dessert, made its U.S. debut in New York in November. At the time, indoor dining guidelines capped capacity at 25 percent. To help stir up buzz for the legendary café with a fashion pedigree—Coco Chanel was known to frequent the original location on Rue de Rivoli—fellow French institution Longchamp opened an Angelina popup at its Fifth Avenue store. There, shoppers can enjoy a drink and dessert in the retailer’s “terrace” set up with Parisian-style café seating.

Carolina Herrera on Madison Avenue also opened an Angelina popup for its well-heeled clientele. The eight-seat outdoor café offers a selection of pastries such as mini macaroons, meringues and viennoiserie as well as drinks.

Retailers Bank on Fashion and Food to Lure Consumers Back to Stores
Angelina at Carolina Herrera Nina Westervelt

“As the world gradually opens and we can meet with each other again, I wanted to bring a touch of Paris to our Upper East Side friends and family through our collaboration with Angelina,” stated Wes Gordon, Carolina Herrera creative director. “As someone with a hopeless sweet tooth myself, Angelina’s decadent macarons and pastries have always been irresistible.”

Both Angelina popups run through July.

Though restaurants have a long history in NYC retail, many locations that have closed during the past year are now reopening. At Nordstrom’s NYC flagship, shoppers can now reserve a table at three of its eateries: Bistro Verde, Jeannie’s and Wolf.

Bergdorf Goodman, which recently launched a New York-themed campaign starring Ella Emhoff, model, recent fashion school grad and the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris, is serving lunch and dinner at its BG Restaurant on the seventh floor. Dinners can also nab a table at BG on Fifth, a sidewalk café in front of the department store’s famous windows, that serves afternoon tea and cocktails.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s Parisian dining experience, L’Avenue, continues to enjoy the celebrity cache it earned in 2019 when supermodel Gigi Hadid feted her birthday there with a denim-themed bash. Meanwhile, a coveted seat at RH Rooftop, the restaurant located on top of Restoration Hardware in Meatpacking remains in demand.

The marriage between restaurants and retail works outside of New York as well.

In March, Oxford Industries, the parent company of island lifestyle brand Tommy Bahama, announced it would continue to open more Tommy Bahama Marlin Bars in 2021. It opened four new bars in 2020 in sunny spots like San Diego and Jacksonville, Fla. The brand’s bars offer what it calls an “innovative take on a spirited cocktail party” and provide a fun, casual experience for shoppers, who can take advantage of a curated selection of Tommy Bahama apparel while they relax.

Parent company Oxford Industries grew its digital reach in 2020 and will increase spending on IT investments for e-commerce.
Tommy Bahama’s Marlin Bar Courtesy

Luxury labels have also set their sights on the hospitality space. Staying true to its heritage, Gucci opened Gucci Osteria, an Italian restaurant by three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura, on the third floor of its store in Beverly Hills in early 2020. Prior to the pandemic decimating the city’s restaurant scene, images of the restaurant’s lavish décor and the Emilia burger, a $35 patty and bun housed in “Guccified” fast-food packaging, blew up foodies’ Instagram pages.

Gucci, which opened its first restaurant in Florence in 2018, cut the ribbon on its third dining spot curated by Bottura last month at its new store in Tokyo, located in the bustling Ginza shopping district.