Nowadays, it’s pervasive to find fashion brands label themselves as “high-end” since every fashion business house wants to take their share of the fast-growing industry. However, what is not common is for brands to produce high-quality items, advertise the product as a luxury, and sell them at a high-end price value. That has been the primary point of contention in the Nordstrom vs Bloomingdale debate. It’s not enough for a brand to lay claims to the “high-end” title, and you buy because of that. The brand has to truly embody the values of a typical luxury product, from consciously sourcing materials to the use of artisan-level production and marketing at a price point.
High-end fashion creates exclusive fashion items made from exceptionally high-quality materials and put together using expert-level finesse by trained personnel. Usually, luxury fashion houses producing high-end fashion products have the goal and responsibility towards their customers to design, create, and market clothing and accessories that are trend-setting, made in limited quantity, and highly expensive to buy. The fact remains that, for a brand to be termed “high-end,” its product has to meet certain conditions.
In the following paragraphs of this article, we’ll be looking into some of these conditions. We will then subject Nordstrom vs Bloomingdale’s debate to these conditions and draw our conclusions. But first, let’s look into the history of both brands. By the time you’re done reading, you will be able to make an informed decision concerning this subject.
- Nordstrom—History, Development, and Evolution Till Date
- Bloomingdale’s—History, Development, and Evolution Till Date
- Nordstrom vs Bloomingdale’s—which is Higher End?
- Nordstrom vs Bloomingdale’s—Similarities and Differences
Nordstrom—History, Development, and Evolution Till Date
Nordstrom Inc. was founded in 1901 by John W. Nordstrom and had its headquarters in Seattle, WA, in the retail of shoes, cosmetics, apparel, and accessories. They own and operate stores worldwide that sell these merchandise in all categories for men, women, and children. Nordstrom Inc. operates two major segments: Retail and Credit.
The Retail section operates Nordstrom’s off-price “Nordstrom Rack” store, full-line Jeffrey boutiques, and “Last Chance,”—a clearance store. Nordstrom also offers private label merchandise and brand name focused on its retail commodities.
The credit segment includes Nordstrom’s wholly-owned federal savings bank and Nordstrom FSB—which provides:
- A private label credit card.
- Nordstrom debit.
- Credit cards for Nordstrom purchases.
Back in 1887, at the age of 16, John W. Nordstrom left his home in Sweden in anticipation of a greener pasture in New York. It turned out things were not so simple, even in the land of opportunity. However, John pressed on and labored at the mines and logging camps while he crossed to Washington’s west coast.
One day, he saw an eye-catching headline: “Gold Found in the Klondike in Alaska.” He decided to leave for Alaska that day, so he bought a ticket and traveled down. With hard labor and the overabundance of an eager worker through the rough terrain, he could save $13,000 within two years in the gold mine.
Afterward, he returned to Seattle and connected with a friend from his days in Alaska—Carl Wallin, who owns a shoe shop in downtown Seattle. Together, they opened the Wallin & Nordstrom shoe store with John investing his money. That was the humble beginning of what we know today as Nordstrom, Inc.
Their approach to business has been to provide exceptional services through careful selection, quality, and value. Soon enough, they had a customer base that adopted the idea, and by 1923, they had enough to open a second store. Five years later, John retired from the business and sold his company share to his sons Everett and Elmer. Carl Wallin also retired a year after and sold his shares to Everett and Elmer.
By 1960, the Nordstrom Seattle shop shoe became the largest in the United States, with eight locations in Oregon and Washington. With that much success, Nordstrom was still looking into ways to spread its wings, so the company ventured into women’s clothing. So, in 1963, it purchased the Seattle-based Best Apparel, and three years later, it bought Oregon, a Portland fashion retailer. They added the Men and Children’s wear in 1966, followed by two additional Washington stores. Two years later, the brothers handed over the company to the third generation of Elmer’s sons, James and John, Everett’s son Bruce, and Lloyd’s son-in-law Jack.
Nordstrom, without a doubt, has a great history. Today, Nordstrom is in the hands of the fourth generation, along with the executive helm of the company. They have a remarkable team of innovators and fashion leaders. They have grown into a fashion specialty chain with a global reach from selling one tiny shoe in downtown Seattle. They operate over 270 stores, 115 full-line stores, 150 Nordstrom Racks, one clearance store, and two Jeffrey boutiques. By 2023, Nordstrom plans to reach over 230 Rack stores.
Bloomingdale’s—History, Development, and Evolution Till Date
Fashion and Bloomingdale’s are synonymous. It’s widely known that Bloomingdale’s has some of the world’s renowned designers have their creations displayed and for sale. Therefore, many people move into the store to find the latest style. That’s a tradition that has been on for many years—over 150 years, to be precise.
A company started by two brothers–Lyman and Joseph Bloomingdale. What began in 1861 as a garment store for women from the Lower East Side of New York City has become so great a chain store selling a wide variety of products from various high-end designers and for people of all categories.
Lyman and Joseph Bloomingdale started with what we can call the 19th-century fad—the hoop skirt. That was the first item sold in Bloomingdale’s Ladies’ Notion Shop. In those days, fashion retailers focused on just one type of garment. However, the Bloomingdale brothers changed the narrative when, in 1872, they began to sell a wide variety of European fashion items. That was what started what we know today as “Department Store.”
Things began to go so well that what was only a tiny store ran out of space, and they had to move from its 59th street and Lexington Avenue location in New York City. They have large glass windows where they begin to display their items theatrically.
Lyman started to run print ads to attract more customers. That day, it was almost impossible to drive or walk anywhere in the city and not come across the “All Cars Transfer to Bloomingdale’s” advertising campaign. That was how Bloomingdale became the shopping destination for several people around the country and worldwide.
The store continued to develop and gain popularity throughout the following decade. Then, in 1960, they added international designer items, including designer bags from Italy. They also achieved celebrity status in the 1970s when celebrities and royalties frequented the department store until Bloomingdale’s got featured in movies and New Yorker cartoons.
In 1973, they introduced Bloomingdale’s famous Big Brown Bag, designed initially to hold pillow, blanket, and linen purchases. The bag gained so much popularity that they expanded their creativity and developed purses for makeup, spinoff bags, and other items.
They expanded beyond N.Y.C. and opened stores in places such as Boston, Philadelphia, etc., and followed up with a flagship store in Chicago and other stores in Florida. These expansions took place in the 1980s and continue to date.
Today, hundreds of Bloomingdale’s stores are operating in the United States. The company has grown so well to become a Federated Department Store division. To date, the company still offers high-quality products and several exclusive items. It has a specialty line that you cannot find anywhere globally. Can customers visit their retail shop for this or shop online. They ensure that products change regularly to fit current trends and tastes.
The bottom line is that the Bloomingdale brothers didn’t invent the modern-day department store; however, they found a niche that worked and capitalized on it. They have a business model that several others have copied to a varying degree of failure and success inside and outside the industry. It’s a formula that has remained thriving for decades. As times go on, it’s sure that Bloomingdale’s will continue to bring in customers from around the globe.
Nordstrom vs Bloomingdale’s—which is Higher End?
When shopping for luxury and high-end items, few companies have the same renown that Bloomingdale’s have. That’s precisely why the Nordstrom vs Bloomingdale debate has lingered for long. Though another department store is making a threat at Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom is one of its strong competitors. Does Nordstrom have what it takes? Let’s look at it from the perspective of;
A quick look at Nordstrom vs Bloomingdale’s history showed that both companies have a strong profile. From a humble beginning, they continued to expand to what we know them to be today, and there seems to be no stopping anytime soon.
The number of stores Bloomingdale’s has cannot compare with that of Nordstrom. Bloomingdale’s has only about 55, with most of these located in the United States and only one in Dubai. Nordstrom, on the other hand, has 468 stores scattered worldwide. However, rarity is one of the ingredients that makes a high-end brand.
In addressing its limitations, Bloomingdale’s launched a mail catalog for attending to the needs of those who are in locations where there are no Bloomingdale’s stores accessible. Since then, the company has continued to work on attracting and attending to people from all spheres of life without segregating, Nordstrom, on the other hand, works tirelessly for creating a balance, and in 2009, it ranked as number 72nd on the Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.” It was also the number 286th among the Fortune 500 list for 2007.
Nordstrom vs Bloomingdale — A Tabular Comparison
|U.S.-based department store chain owned by Macy’s, Inc.||U.S.-based department store chain founded by John W. Nordstrom|
|founded in 1861 by Joseph and Lyman G. Bloomingdale||Started as a shoe store.|
|The first store was opened in 1872 in New York City.||Headquarters and flagship store are located in Seattle, Washington.|
|The original product line consisted mainly of hoop skirts.||Offers clothes, bags, accessories, jewelry, perfumes, cosmetics, and even home furniture.|
In the Nordstrom vs Bloomingdale debate, we can conclude that both are department stores with what it takes to be tagged as high-end. However, determining which is more high-end is a function of personal preference. The structure of department stores has suffered in recent years, but both Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s have developed personalized strategies to combat these challenges.