Luxury Retailers Open at American Dream Mall in New Jersey – Glossy
Despite the many obstacles encountered since construction began in 2004, New Jersey’s massive American Dream mall continues to roll out new retail experiences and attract big names.
The company’s latest effort, which opened on Friday morning, is The Avenue, an upscale section of the mall anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and featuring a selection of high-end brand name stores. They include European brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Hermès, Saint Laurent and Mulberry, as well as South Korean luxury eyewear brand Gentle Monster. Louis Vuitton and Gucci will also be present, as shop-in-shops within Saks Fifth Avenue, with an area of 110,000 square feet.
Like many aspects of American Dream, The Avenue did not come without its headaches. When the project was first announced in 2019, a number of brands and retailers like Barneys New York and Moncler were expected to be part of the project. For obvious reasons (Barneys going bankrupt, for example) and obscure, many of these brands are no longer part of The Avenue.
Speaking to Glossy in July, American Dream’s Creative Director Ken Downing admitted that the brands had dropped the launch.
“There’s no way to water it down: the pandemic has set us back,” Downing said. “But we were very lucky that among the greats [retail] partners we were waiting for [working with], few are those who did not cross the finish line with us. We take it as a challenge.
But the featured retailers are big names, and American Dream complements The Avenue with the kind of experiments that analysts say are needed to justify outrageous retail operating costs. For example, it will open with an art exhibition Meet Fashion curated by Ree and Jason Willaford of the Galleri Urbane art gallery. The Avenue also offers refined Carpaccio cuisine.
“The future of shopping malls is ever-changing, and retailers are navigating the look and feel of physical store formats in a post-COVID world,” said retail analyst Krista Corrigan of Edited. “However, the demand for high fashion brands is moving in a positive direction. In addition to their loyal existing buyers, Gen Z has also taken an interest in luxury, introducing a new generation of consumers. The opportunity lies in devoting less floor space to transactional goods and more to experiential retail.
Corrigan pointed out that American Dream’s existing amenities – like its art gallery, new Ferris wheel and Brüt champagne bar – were the keys to foot traffic in the future.