Neiman Marcus opened its doors in Dallas 100 years ago today. Fashion and style busted out of the stall, so to speak, and America might mark the moment. A retailing family went West from the South and opened doors to sell spiffy stuff to a city with oil money, the only city at the time that was listed on the Social Register outside of the East Coast matrix.
The cotton-and-oil money took to the idea of a button-down ready-made dress that women could step into, rather than pulling over their heads. The company turned a profit in its first year. That is just an example of the good sense and fashion mix that appealed to those who could innovate their way forward outside of the strictures of the (Eastern) establishment.
My sisters-in-law grew up in Big D and their grandmothers took them to Neiman's to shop. They would say they wanted to be buried in Dallas's Sparkman Hillcrest cemetery so they could sit up and see the (Northpark) Neiman's store. That is a Texas girl for you, and her sense of heaven. Their two grandmothers are buried in just that position, in just that place.
My new hairdresser in Santa Fe told me that when he went from Chicago to Dallas on a visit he was supposed to go to lunch at Neiman's downtown and that was the only place to eat downtown other than the Fairmont Hotel and they couldn't get a seat because all of the Junior League women were there. He didn't eat lunch there that day but he took one big long look at all of the big blonde hair-dos on those women who dressed to the 9's and decided on the spot he'd do quite well making a living in Dallas since women their dressed up. He did.
Isn't it ever so interesting how something can really shape a place? Neiman's. The store that shaped Dallas, then Texas, then the region and...
There isn't a Neiman's in New Mexico - at least not yet. But the O'Keeffe Museum is in Santa Fe today because Stanley Marcus, son of the founder of Neiman's and its long-time CEO, nudged a Ft. Worth lady to make a place for O'Keeffe's works. He served on museum's first board. Growing up in Oklahoma City, a trip to Dallas to shop was a huge deal. It took me a long long time to ever throw out that first dress I had from Neiman's with its Neiman-Marcus label. When I was first married and starting a career track, Neiman's and Stanley Marcus dominated my new town, Dallas.
The Neiman Marcus Group includes Bergdorf-Goodman. An Oklahoma City Casady School graduate, Jim Gold, rose through the ranks of Neiman Marcus and is now President and CEO of Bergdorf Goodman in NYC. Bergdorf-Goodman celebrated sales for the fiscal year ending in July over the $500 million mark. I enjoyed strolling through that high-end shop when I lived in NYC; it was full of style and luxury which are Neiman's signatures along with excellent service. Their lunchroom overlooks Central Park.
Best monogrammed towels for the price? Through Horchow, also part of The Neiman Marcus Group. These are Lauren Classic Towels by Ralph Lauren, another guy who has shaped our nation's style by hearkening to the West. But that's another story.
Revenues for the Neiman Marcus Group's last quarter were $269 million, up 10% over a year ago. Strongest sales are in the stores in the Midwest, West and NYC. Online revenue growth is robust.