Jeff Byron is a fanatic for brown suede shoes. Thankfully, as the new vice president and general manager of Saks Fifth Avenue Chicago, he can satisfy his habit in the men’s shoe department any time he likes. Byron recently left the warmth of the Palm Desert store for the four seasons of urban Chicago, but he’s now happily settled in the Gold Coast and here, shares his special take on Saks and some exclusive spring picks.
MICHIGAN AVENUE: What are you looking forward to at the Chicago store? JEFF BYRON: This store is the longest-standing retailer on Michigan Avenue and the first year-round store to be launched outside of New York—that was in 1929. There’s a lot of history here and expectation as far as Saks is concerned. I hope to—with the great team I have here—continue to deliver and exceed expectations as far as the city and our customers are concerned.
MA: Where does the Chicago store fall in the Saks hierarchy? JB: I can’t be specific but we’re within the top 10 Saks markets. We also have, in my opinion, one of the top men’s stores, which opened in 1999.
MA: Do you feel like the Chicago man is open to showing his own style? JB: Observing the customer and the man on the street, there is definitely no lack of style in Chicago. The client gets it; they understand what’s out there and they take the trends and tailor it to best suit their needs.
MA: What are some Saks exclusives for spring? JB: Our Wear collection is a major thrust for us; we’ve also launched Via 18 and we’re launching Sinclaire 10 for spring. We’re looking at an exclusive handbag collection with Rebecca Minkoff; she’ll be doing a personal appearance with us this month.
MA: What are the advantages to being a frequent Saks customer? JB: Our Saks Fifth Avenue World Elite MasterCard gives you membership to SaksFirst, which is our exclusive rewards program—additional service, extra-special treatment and exclusive offers from Mercedes-Benz, British Airways, Fairmont hotels and other premium partners. You also get points that add up to a year-end SaksFirst gift card when you use your card to make purchases, in store and out.
MA: Do you have any predictions for the new season? JB: In the men’s world, it’s all about putting a casual spin on dressing up: a softconstructed jacket paired with washedlinen shirts. For women, a ladylike revival seems to be a prominent theme in readyto- wear. There’s an emphasis on ruffles, bows, embroidery and floral prints but done in a very tasteful manner.