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Alex K Goes Shopping: UNIQLO Redux

30crit1600What more can we possibly say about UNIQLO?  By now you have to know that we are unabashed fans. You could almost call us a UNIQLO pusher, so we were curious to see what sort of contrived cynicism Alex Kuczynski could bring to today's Thursday Styles, especially after seeing today's title, "The Wool Over My Eyes Should Be Cashmere", suggesting some sort of swindle. How disturbing to find ourselves on exactly the same page with our favorite shopping scribe! She loves them just as much as we do, and Miss Thrifty even betrays her true buying habits (which we suspected all along) when she casually reveals that a polyester down jacket for $99.50 looks just like the one she spent $700 on last year. Even we who have no fear of luxury items would tell you that thee is no reason to spend that much on a down jacket, particularly if it reflects the same pared-down aesthetic as UNIQLO. 

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Steven Alan's Mini-Opening

StevenalanhatIt's not so cold today, but it will get colder, and when that happens, there is nothing so useful as a soft cashmere hat like the one at left. A classic knit cap looks good on anyone. We found this one for $95 at the newest  Steven Alan store on 8th Avenue, which just popped up a couple of weeks ago. It's only big enough to hold his own private label collection with aImg_1896 few extra accessory lines. This is just fine since it has a full assortment of those great sport shirts that are making Alan famous. But back to the hat which is our gift pick for today. We love the jaunty stripes but a solid version is also available in 6 colors for the minimalist. Almost makes us wish for a blizzard.

Steven Alan annex 69 Eighth Ave, West Village
also 103 Franklin Street, Tribeca
465 Amsterdam Avenue, Upper West Side
229 Elizabeth Street, Nolita


Gift Spotlight: Gucci's Holly & Ivy or The New Christmas Sweater

GuccibagHere at The Shophound, we like to point out the increasing number of occasions when Fashion and Charity meet, hence our many posts about Marc Jacobs and (PRODUCT)RED. And this brings us to Gucci's special Holiday collection designed to benefit UNICEF.
Gucci creative director Frida Giannini has taken some of the firms most popular handbag shapes and rendered them in a special holiday print with green leather trim just for the Christmas season.
And here's where we get to our problem. We thought, like most people, that Gucci was faring pretty well without Tom Ford. Giannini seemed to be guiding it on a course with a nod to Ford's contributions while developing her own signatures and still staying true to the brand.
And then we saw this in the window on Fifth Avenue: A bag that fairly screams "Tom Ford has left the building and is never, ever coming back!"

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Horacio Goes Shopping: Paul Smith Ambivalence Edition

23crit2190We didn't want you to think we were blowing off last week's Critical Shopper column just because it was Thanksgiving and written by stand-in Horacio Silva. We were simply out of town and busy deciding whether to gorge on apple pie or homemade marble cookies (from a recipe by Angela Missoni no less). In the end the answer was simple. Why not both? Now as we radically rethink our nutritional habits, we are playing catch-up, but Horacio's visit to the new Paul Smith shop in SoHo (which we visited last month) also gives us an opportunity to follow up on one of last weeks clerks, Mark Haldeman of the same store.
we went back a second time yesterday, and we must say we liked the place even better this time. It's just full of appealing stuff, and was made for gift shopping as the front room is filled with jewelry and accessories at a variety of prices, and non-apparel items are scattered throughout the store. Smith adds unique details to everything he makes, so it's no place for minimalists, but if you appreciate subtle details, it should become a home away from home. Horacio discovered that not everyone is a fan.

To the devout fashion flock that worships only at the shrine of aggressive modernism, Mr. Smith is a deliberate-compromise option for the mild-at-heart. (When I asked a fashion editor friend of mine to accompany me to the new Paul Smith store on Greene Street, he told me he would rather eat glass.)

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Employee Of The Week: Jaki Batton at Burton

Askshop061127_198bAs we are still trying to catch up with last week's shop clerk extravaganza, we don't want to get too far behind and forget New York Magazine's  outstanding sales associate for this week, Jaki Batton of the relatively new Burton Store in SoHo. It may seem obvious to many, but the distinction must be made that Burton is a store for snowboarding not skiing. This will be apparent to anyone who walks in and sees the giant rack of brightly designed snowboards in the middle of the store. Where skiwear is usually sleek and aerodynamically body conscious, snowboarding fashion tends towards the boxy and baggy, as in cargo pants as opposed stirrup pants. Burton manages to create infinite variations on the parka that would be just as at home walking down Bleecker Street as it would on a mountainside. As Jaki says:

We just introduced the women’s B by Burton line. My favorite piece right now is the S. Ride suit. It’s this one-piece that’s industrial looking, like a mechanic’s, but it’s for women and actually flattering. We have the raddest designers that are super-aware of fashion and mountain function.

Rad indeed. She doesn't have to go far to convince us that she is a hard-core snowboarder, but as The Shophound is a hard-core sunbather, we could easily be fooled. Having said that, Burton offers plenty for the shopper who hasImg_1890 no interest in vacationing in the snow, like plenty of great outerwear jackets for any gender including the Burton Mark XIII label, a line with a more classic luxe attitude and prices to match. The store also sells a wide array of trendy Nixon sports watches, Gravis footwear, and great sunglasses from Burton as well as other vendors like Anon.

Burton SoHo 106 Spring Street at Mercer Street


Life Aprés Chloé: Phoebe Philo Finds Part-Time Job at The Gap

Phoebephilo_1 Just as her successor, Paulo Melim Anderrson takes the reins at Chloé, designer Phoebe Philo has quietly become a consultant for Gap Europe, WWD reports. Philo, who flummoxed the fashion world by leaving the again-burgeoning Paris label just as she was becoming a star herself, reportedly wanted to exit the fast track to spend time with her family including her newborn child. Those who were wondering how long such a high powered designer could stay away from fashion now have their answer. Not very. No word yet on whether the collaboration will result in a co-branded line, or how her contributions will affect offerings in America. Neither Gap nor Philo have commented publicly on their association, but her uncanny sense of creativity and commercialism could only help the giant chain's recent uneven fortunes.
On a related note, Roland Mouret's 19RM collection is set to hit these New York Gap stores this Friday:

1 Astor Pl.
657 Third Ave. at 42nd St.
734 Lexington Ave. at 59th St.
60 W. 34th St. at Broadway,
680 Fifth Ave. at 54th St.
1466 Broadway at 42nd St.
122 Fifth Ave. at 18th St.

Line up early. It sold out within minutes in London.
Philo Said Working With Gap (WWD)


Shophound Previews: American Eagle Hatches Martin + Osa

Martinosa

Another Family Holiday, another trip to the mall. Regular Shophounders may have noticed that while New York City is our usual stomping ground, we do like the occasional detour to the mall. That mall is often Tyson's Corner Center in in McLean Virginia, just outside of Washington DC, and one of the reasons we like it is because invariably we will find something new that has yet to make it to New York. Sometimes it's a promising concept (Cusp) or other times it's an uninspired expansion vehicle that adds nothing to the retail scene but looks poised to make lots of cash anyway (Ruehl). This time we were in search of Martin + Osa, a new store concept from American Eagle Outfitters. Frankly, we suspected that it would fall into the latter, uninspired category. After all, American Eagle has a sort of "Abercrombie knock-off" reputation, so we were wondering how an offshoot could possibly express any more originality that the mother ship. Well, nobody is happier to be pleasantly surprised than The Shophound. We loved Martin + Osa. It's the anti-Ruehl. Four locations around the country are up and running, including Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and Newport Beach California in addition to Tyson's, and we can't wait for one to open in Manhattan.

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The Weekly Spree: Lazy Long Weekend Edition

The Shophound's friend Trisha at Omiru: Style For All and BlogHer has tirelessly compiled links for the curious Holiday Shopper which we, still in our lazy turkey and stuffing stupor (really, turkey is just something we tolerate to get to the pie) are stealing for your surfing pleasure.

Fashiontribes spotlights ISSAC Issac Mizrahi's Newly relaunched handbag line.

Couture in the City presents Christmas Gifts fit for a Princess.

Clothes Pin rounds up the best Eco Friendly gifts under $200 including Mi-Spa Essentials Gift Set for $30.50.

Second City Style chooses the Best Beauty Products for the Holidays.

Fabsugar picks Mustela Stretch Mark cream ($34.50) as THE gift for the mommy-to-be. (perhaps for a mommy-to-be that you are very close with)

She Finds curates a Soon to be Sold Out guide to what's hot this holiday season so you can get a head start on figuring out alternatives..

Papierblog is lusting after Shelly Steffee’s Black Trench from her Fall 06 collection.

Kristopher Dukes recommends buying a brass Louis Vuitton key chain/business card holder ($210) for the man in your life.

The It Lists focuses on tortiseshell trends, and we always appreciate any excuse to buy a new pair of sunglasses.


Fashion News: Richie Gives Rachel the Boot

Richie_blog_3Us Magazine, that paragon of reliable information, has reported that überstylist Rachel Zoe has been given the heave-ho by her top client Nicole Richie. Zoe has taken flak lately for rumors that she pressures her clients to stay reed-thin by any means necessary. Her rise to fame coincided with Richie's startling transformation from pudgy, dumpy mess to svelte glamorpuss. The now ubiquitous stylist was given much of the credit for Nicole's makeover as well as for influencing the look of young Hollywood, and Us suggests that she has been undermining Richie's efforts to stabilize her weight at a healthier level. Good thing she has that side gig designing, what else, purses for Leiber.
Richie Fires Stylist Rachel Zoe (US)

Mouret1Mark your calendars. If you aren't completely tapped out by the recent rash of High/Low designer collaboration frenzy, Elle reports that the super exclusive (New York only) launch of Roland Mouret's 19RM for Gap will arrive on December 1. That's in one week. As part of Gap's (PRODUCT)RED pogram, benefitting The Global Fund, the mini-launch appropriately coincides with World AIDS Day.
So, buy a dress, save some lives. Everybody wins.
Style Essential: Roland Mouret/Gap Collaboration (Elle)

Lelarose_1 And speaking of Designer/Mass collaborations, the very latest to be announced is Lela Rose and Payless, who has had a happy response to its team-up with designer Laura Poretzky's Abaeté label. The line will be available for Fall 2007, and will be unveiled on the runway at Bryant Park with her luxury ready-to-wear this February.
Lela Rose for Less: (The Daily)

Misshapes_1 And if that's not enough, omnipresent DJ Trio The Misshapes, Greg Krelenstein, Leigh Lezark and Geordon Nicol have announced that they are this close to signing with a major company to produce a collection of their own. Nicol tells WWD that the deal will be similar to Madonna's H&M agreement, but not necessarily with that particular company, which means we will only be seeing more and more of them.
Fashion Scoops: Shaping Up (WWD)


Holiday Shopping Tips: Black Friday Approaches

While Black Friday sounds like a day to dread, as anyone who watches the news now knows, that's what retailers like to call the Friday after Thanksgiving. We're not sure if it really is the biggest shopping day of the year anymore, but it is certainly the most crowded. Typically, our advice would be to stay home, because who wants to ruin the fun of shopping with long lines and aimless crowds, but lately stores have added enticement to get customers through the door on that day, so we have compiled a few bits of advice to make your shopping venture more enjoyable. Nobody should attempt serious gift buying this Friday without a strong strategy.

  • SHOP EARLY. This would seem to be obvious, but this week we mean really early. Lots of stores are opening as early as 8 AM, and offering specials and extra discounts that will expire after normal opening hours pass. Some daring stores are even opening at Midnight on Thursday for the truly intrepid, so check Thursday's newspapers for special hours. It's worth it to set your alarm, and we know you're going to fall asleep early from the Turkey anyway. The other reason to get a head start is because most stores use Black Friday (and the entire month of December, really) as a license to mercilessly overwork their staff. The earlier you get to the store, the less tired and more helpful your service will be.
  • MAKE A LIST. Sounds obvious too. How often do you actually do this? It's not a day for browsing.
  • SHOP FOR YOURSELF. Lots of clearance will start on Friday, but don't buy anything you wouldn't have wanted at full price, and don't buy anything that isn't as good as the best things in your wardrobe. Our Sample Sale rules apply here very well
  • GET GIFT RECEIPTS. Always ask. Always. Assume that any gift you give is going to be returned, and why make things complicated for someone you thought enough of to give a gift to in the first place? If the store doesn't offer them, than take your receipt, cut out the price and tuck it discreetly in the box. At least they will have the date and transaction information to record the original sale. if you think this is tacky, think how tacky an argument with a salesperson can be.
  • STAY HOME. Why are we so grim? Maybe we have worked too many Black Fridays to get excited about it, but we keep getting emails from online retailers reminding us of special offers that will start at 12:00 AM on Friday and last for exactly 24 Hours. Free shipping abounds that day. If you know exactly what you need to get, why fight the crowds when you can sit at home and click away while you watch all those show your Tivo has been saving?

Happy Shopping