Fashion Magazine

Crossing Fifth Avenue: How a Retailer Became a Major Luxury Brand

By Bruby @mz_new_ruby

Crossing Fifth Avenue: How a Retailer Became a Major Luxury BrandIn “Crossing Fifth Avenue” Ira gives a detailed account of how he built Bergdorf Goodman into a new fashion empire. The book gives an insider’s account on how luxury retailing rose to what it is today. In the book you are given a detailed description of how Ira went from being a pageboy to the CEO of Bergdorf Goodman, and all of his life and business lessons he acquired along the way.     To me this story represented the ultimate Cinderella story by showing me that you truly can go from having nothing to having everything. Ira built his career on making friends and building relationships with the world’s fashion elite. The store went from being old and boring to new and chic, Bergdorf Goodman is now the place to shop if you want to look or feel important. Ira has brought in big name clients like Princess Diana, Jackie O, Donald Trump, Salvadore Dali, and even John Lennon. These are all people who I am sure Ira not only built business relationships with, but also became their good friends. The biggest lesson this book could have ever taught me was the importance of networking.
Crossing Fifth Avenue: How a Retailer Became a Major Luxury Brand5th Ave   The book helped me realize that you have to be fearless in your career. Ira threw Bergdorf’s into a lot of unfamiliar territories and he understood that was what he had to do to succeed.  Ira single handedly brought Parisian couture back into the mainstream of American fashion. He also brought in an array of French and Italian high-class designers; he managed to market these new brands by throwing fabulous events and parties.    Besides the underlying theme of networking the book also has Ira’s life lessons scattered throughout it. One of my favorite lessons learned was: “When building a business, you have to know both who your present customer is, and who you want your new customer to be. After that, the objective is deciding what type of merchandise or service will satisfy them both.” This made the idea of retail seem so simple to me. The most important thing in retail is knowing your customer and catering to them, the goods you put into your retail establishment are secondary. I have never looked at a store that way, I always thought that what you sold in the store was what would attract the customers, so how you treated them would never really matter. I now know that the goods may attract the customer at first, but the customer service policy of the business is what keeps the customers coming back.  Another one of Ira’s lesson learned that stuck out to me was: “In the retail fashion business it is as imperative to have a knowledgeable fashion director, as well as an imaginative publicity director, as it is to have “a nose” in the perfume business. Both perform a function that is unique and special and that will lead to success” I thought this was very true, because although Mr. Neimark helped Bergdorf’s become a fashion empire, it was his actual creative staff that helped him know what route to go. No matter how business savvy you are, it is very important to know your stuff. A businessman may not understand what’s in style at the moment, but a well-educated fashion director should always know what’s “In”. As a team the CEO and business side of the company should work with the Fashion Director and the creative side of the company, to find out what the customer wants and what will sale. Ira Neimark had this system down pretty well that is why Bergdorf was leaving its competitors in the dust during Ira’s seventeen-year career. That is also why Bergdorf is still a leading retailer, even after Ira has left the company. Thanks to Ira Neimark, Bergdorf Goodman will always be the definition of American luxury retailing.Crossing Fifth Avenue: How a Retailer Became a Major Luxury Brand5th Ave

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