Saks Fifth Avenue was the brainchild of Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel, who operated independent retail stores on New York's 34th Street at Herald Square in the early 1900s. Their dream was to construct a unique specialty store that would become synonymous with fashionable, gracious living.
The combined financial input of these great merchant families led to the purchase of a site between 49th and 50th Streets on upper Fifth Avenue, then jointly occupied by the Democratic Club and the Buckingham Hotel. With the opening of its founders' "dream store" on September 15, 1924, Saks Fifth Avenue became the first large retail operation to locate in what was then primarily a residential district. By offering the finest quality men's and women's fashions, as well as an extraordinary program of customer services, Saks Fifth Avenue has become the byword for taste and elegance.
Saks Fifth Avenue, 1924 to 1972
The merging of the Saks and Gimbel families resulted in more than just the construction of Saks Fifth Avenue. 30-year-old Adam Gimbel (Bernard's cousin) became Horace Saks' assistant. With the sudden death of Horace Saks in 1926, Adam Gimbel became President of Saks Fifth Avenue, bringing with him the imaginative foresight that has carried Saks to the zenith of its success.
Adam Gimbel also established a Saks empire, with branch stores reaching from coast to coast. When he retired in 1969, he was a legend in his own time. Adam Gimbel's first action was to redecorate the entire flagship store in the opulent Art Moderne style from the 1925 Paris Exposition, creating a series of specialty shops within the grand luxury of Saks Fifth Avenue. His intuitive perception was demonstrated as Adam traveled all over the world in search of those items that would set Saks eminently above other specialty stores.