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Urban Oasis

Tommy Bahama launches a tropical flagship on Fifth Avenue




The cruise ship Tommy Bahama (Seattle) has arrived in the port of New York. The retailer whose tag line is “Life is one long weekend,” docked its 105th store at Fifth Avenue and 45th Street in the landmark Fred F. French Building this past November. Upon crossing the threshold, or walking the gangway, of the 13,000-square-foot space, customers are immediately transported from Manhattan’s urban jungle into a tropical paradise.

Passersby are welcomed into the three-level store and restaurant by white-washed poplar shipping crates hanging in the show window announcing that “Tommy has landed in Manhattan.” Merchandised to the exterior and interior, the crates are thematic, matching in-store perimeter cabinetry made of the same wood.

A true branded experience, the store features strategically positioned Floridian palm trees, driftwood and hand-strung seashell sculptures, the soothing sounds of piped-in tropical music and slow-turning ceiling fans suggesting gentle ocean breezes.  

Additional references to an island oasis include limestone flooring, evocative of sandy beaches, and theatrical overhead lighting referencing the bright sun. Adrienne Parks, the store’s visual manager says, “We want to create an experience that [customers] will remember and tell their friends about.”

The company’s commitment to sustainability is on display before patrons even enter the store, as window shutters made from wooden planks derived from the Coney Island boardwalk stretch vertically, connecting the street level and upper level floors. Two-and-a-half miles in linear feet of wood were purchased after the boardwalk was replaced by concrete.

Menswear is merchandised front and forward at the Fifth Avenue entrance. The department featuring jeans, sportswear and sweaters is anchored by a 14-ft., 250-year-old fallen elm repurposed as a presentation table.


According to Parks, all the fixturing is custom or found. Engaging wooden fixtures emulate travel trunks, as antique showcases house and highlight small treasures in the Tommy Bahama Found area. Located toward the center of the store, this eclectic collection of objects and vintage pieces from around the world includes cigar holders, barware and antique keys. The hangtags are appropriately labeled “found” and include a brief history of the piece.

A perforated metal screen with a subtle palm tree design draws customers into the Tommy Bahama Relax Shop. Here the retailer presents its iconic linen shirts, polos and swimwear.

Next along the tropical path is The Cabana for women. One can almost hear the pounding surf as dresses and silk and knit tops are merchandised under a white linen cabana-like structure seemingly at the water’s edge. Swimwear is presented a few steps away in an upstairs loft area complete with a private fitting room and seating.

Layers of detail throughout include floor-to-ceiling walnut dressing rooms, bronze picture lights highlighting all perimeter presentations, antiqued-oxidized brass countertops and gold-leaf window signage.

The Marlin Bar, featuring a grouping of repurposed oak wine barrels, a dedicated Fifth Avenue entrance and a private meeting room with a rainforest-inspired, hand-painted mural by artist Julie Goldman, sets the tone for an upscale dining experience. The second-floor restaurant is accessed by an intricate circular staircase leading into a plush environment appointed with oak tables and antique grain-sack covered pillows.

This flagship opening coincided with the company’s 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, it launched a Spring Escape promotion with displays that feature nautical maps as targets by muralist Glenn Case, and real arrows suggesting a trip to wherever the arrow lands on the map. After the promotion, the display elements will go on sale.


Like the promotion, Tommy Bahama has a global reach as its arrows have landed across the Pacific. Its next ports of call are Hong Kong and Tokyo, with plans to mix local imagery and content with a hint of paradise.

Project Suppliers

Retailer: Tommy Bahama, Seattle

Design and Architecture: MNA, New York; Michael Neumann, principal; Jairo ‘Jay’ Camelo, principal; Barbara Weinreich, principal; Kevin Eliseo, project manager; Min Lee, designer; Nicole Kim, designer

Contractor: EW Howell, New York

Mannequins: Patina-V, City of Industry, Calif.


Fixtures: Amuneal Mfg. Corp., Philadelphia, Daniel DeMarco & Associates Inc., Amityville, N.Y.

Flooring: Atlantic Exterior Wall Systems LLC, Wayne, N.J.; Haywood Berk Floor Co., New York

Lighting: Celadon Group LLC, New York

Furniture: Daniel DeMarco & Associates Inc., Amityville, N.Y.; The Joinery, Portland, Ore.; Unopiù, Rome; Jeff Soderbergh, Custom Sustainable Furnishings, Newport, R.I.

Outside Design Consultants: Rosini Engineering PC, New York; Blue Sky Design, New York; Schwinghammer Lighting LLC, New York; Worktable NYC, Cutchogue, N.Y.; Post & Grossbard Inc., Piermont, N.Y.

Audio/Visual: DMX Music, Seattle

Kitchen: Baring Industries Inc., Parsippany, N.J.

Bar Mural: Julia Goldman, New York

Millwork: Jeff Soderbergh, Newport, R.I.; Daniel DeMarco & Associates Inc., Amityville, N.Y.

Interior Design, Bar/Restaurant: Worktable NYC, New York

Security/CCTV: Stanley Convergent Security, Bellevue, Wash.

Signage/Graphics: Infinite Manufacturing Group Inc., Irvington, N.J.; Color Edge, New York

Stairs: Custom Metal Fabricating Inc., Emmaus, Pa.

Photography: Dean Kaufman, New York



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