Saks Fifth Avenue
The ultimate in luxury and choices.
Saks Fifth Avenue is the successor of a business founded by Andrew Saks in 1867 and incorporated in New York in 1902 as Saks & Company. Saks died in 1912, and in 1923 Saks & Co. merged with Gimbel Brothers, Inc., which was owned by a cousin of Horace Saks, Bernard Gimbel, operating as a separate autonomous subsidiary. On September 15, 1924, Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel opened Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City, with a full-block avenue frontage south of St Patrick's Cathedral, facing Rockefeller Center. The architects were Starrett & van Vleck, who developed a reticent, genteel Anglophile classicizing facade similar to their Gimbels Department Store in Pittsburgh (1914).
When Bernard's brother, Adam Gimbel, became president of Saks Fifth Avenue in 1926 after Bernard's sudden passing, the company expanded, opening seasonal resort branches in Palm Beach, Florida and Southampton, New York, in 1928. The first full-line year-round Saks store opened in Chicago, in 1929, followed by another resort store in Miami Beach, Florida. In 1938, Saks expanded to the West Coast, opening in Beverly Hills, California. By the end of the 1930s, Saks Fifth Avenue had a total of 10 stores, including resort locations such as Sun Valley, Idaho, Mount Stowe, and Newport, Rhode Island. More full-line stores followed with Detroit, Michigan, in 1940 and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1949. In Downtown Pittsburgh, the company moved to its own freestanding location approximately one block from its former home on the fourth floor in the downtown Gimbel's flagship. The San Francisco location opened in 1952, competing locally with I. Magnin. BATUS Inc. acquired Gimbel Bros., Inc. and its Saks Fifth Avenue subsidiary in 1973 as part of its diversification strategy. More expansion followed from the 1960s through the 1990s including the Midwest, and the South, particularly in Texas. In 1990, BATUS sold Saks to Investcorp S.A., which took Saks public in 1996 as Saks Holdings, Inc.