This week our friends at Curbed and Eater took the wraps off of Racked, a new blog the New York shopping and retail scene. But wait, you may be thinking, isn't that The Shophound's beat? Are they trying to come in and stomp all over our turf? No, no, no. We're friends, and actually, we will be contributing regularly to their site so we encourage all you Shophounders out there to visit often.
WWD's Thursday headline reports that Hedi Slimane and Dior have finally parted ways after a protracted contract negotiation that dragged on for nearly a year. The dispute reportedly was over ownership of Slimane's soon to be launched signature brand said to finally include a women's collection. The celebrated designer was allegedly reluctant to relinquish commercial control over his own name. Who can blame him? Jil? Helmut? Kris Van Assche, a former Slimane assistant whose signature label has been attracting admirers, was supposed to be on deck to take over Dior Homme last year, and is now reportedly negotiating to step in for real. What's it all mean? Next year we will be anxiously awaiting the debut of the Hedi Slimane Collection, and Dior Homme, the collection Slimane concieved after his unhappy departure from Yves Saint Laurent, will probably continue on in much the same direction.
UPDATE: Cathy Horyn reports on her Times blog that Kris Van Assche signed his contract today. Wouldn't it be amusing if Gucci winds up backing Slimane in a new label? Irony, or just a way to dig at Tom Ford? We shall be watching developments closely.
Diesel's kid brother 55DSL has opened its first U.S. store right in middle of Manhattan's skater store district. This is the Italian denim giant's bid to recapture the younger customer it sacrificed when it pushed the prices of its main collection higher. 55DSL was once an alternative side line, but like Miu Miu to Prada, it is now being groomed for a bigger spotlight, hence the new store with more to come in major markets like Los Angeles and Miami. This shop follows the SoHo skater aesthetic with white walls featuring a single extended rail hung with vaguely retro-ish shirts, pants and elongated shorts. The red, white and blue logo and neon window sign might be a little forced given the firm's Italian roots. Is it meant to be ironic? What sets it apart from its richer sister is that there's no denim here, and the prices are about 30% lower. Like so many others, the line dips its toes into the early '80s and adds plenty of printed t-shirts and variations on racing style jackets. A touch of the parent company's signature wit can be found on front door where the hours are listed at 10:55 to 7:55. Get it?
55DSL 281 Lafayette Street between Houston & Prince Streets, SoHo
If New York had a Men's Tailoring District like Savile Row in London, then that is probably where we would find Duncan Quinn's cozy little shop, but as it doesn't, it is tucked away on a quiet block in NoLita just steps from the not so very rarefied Chinese Kitchen Supply District. That is where we encountered David Reeves, the shop clerk of choice this week in New York Magazine. It's been a while since we've had the pleasure of a face to face meeting with one of the lucky salesmen, but David promptly introduced himself and welcomed us warmly into the lush, some might say floridly decorated shop. Duncan Quinn is a practitioner of that particular subgenre of menswear known as classic with a sophisticated twist. His version of British tailoring is extra fitted and slightly shrunken but always crisp and more than a little dandyish in vivid colors. Quinn has a penchant for details like matching covered buttons, hacking pockets and the occasional unorthodox sleeve seam. It's not for everyone, and that's why it's mostly custom made. David was extremely helpful in illuminating the shop's offerings which also include an array of ready-made shirts as well as ties, pocket squares and exclusively made silver cuff links and studs and various other accessories. Quinn rounds things out with a selection of decidedly non-traditional English shoes from Jeffery-West.
In his interview, David does a skillful job of plugging his employer without embarrassing himself, as well as warning against the dangers of excessive dry-cleaning, revealing only a no-nonsense British sense of professionalism:
Q-How long do you spend with a customer?
A-I’ve had customers occupy up to five hours of my time. It’s not like buying a packet of crisps—or chips, as you might say.
In fact, he is somewhat less prissy in person, which is good because in a shop this small, nobody wants that much attitude when they are buying a red dress shirt with navy blue lined cuffs.
Supermodel fans will be marking their calendars for May 8. That's the day Kate Moss will be making a rare personal appearance at Barneys to launch her exclusive collection for England's Topshop. This appearance will be exciting for those who, unlike The Shophound, have never actually seen Kate Moss shopping in Barneys. What will probably really cause the frenzy is the appearance of Topshop goods here in New York. Barneys has the U.S. exclusive for the collection despite the fact that the prices will fall far below their usual range, even for the Co-op. We expect that the real frenzy will be over the clothes, and our guess is that the increased promotion for this event is a good indication that we are getting closer to a full Topshop flagship opening here in NYC. Barneys has carried select Topshop items in the past, as has Opening Ceremony, but this is the first time the hype machine has been in full gear.
Kate's Clothes Come Over (The Daily)
Marc's retail rollout rolls on. On the heels of their biggest Marc by Marc Jacobs store to date opening in Savannah GA, the company has announced a 750-square-foot seasonal store to open this summer in Provincetown, MA on Cape Cod. The shop is slated to be open through October, though should demand continue, it could become a year-round operation. Clearly, secondary markets are a priority for those canny folks at Marc. Here at home, Jacobs will move his Men's Marc collection a block down Bleecker and expand his women's space from it's tiny stall-like home into both of the original connected stores.
now that Marc has thoroughly colonized SoHo and Bleecker street with individual shops, is it finally time for a grander, more consolidated presentation to be in the works? Perhaps something a little more convenient to his uptown fans? Our ear is to the ground...
How could we let the day pass without a little comment on Kate's old pal Naomi Campbell who has been making a few special appearances of her own this week here in New York? We haven't seen such attention to a convict's attire since Martha Stewart went to trial. What can we say?
THE WOMAN IS A GENIUS!
Somehow she managed to score a community service job that kept her hidden for most of the day, so there would be no humiliating "Naomi scrubbing toilets" pictures hitting the net, but savvy girl that she is, she knew there would be no avoiding a daily press opportunity going to and from her punishment. She's a model after all, so it would probably be a mistake to look like anything but her best in front of a barrage of paparazzi. Dressing down to show false humility seemed like a pointless exercise, and there was no rule that said you couldn't wear an Alaîa coat to work. She's a model. That's what they wear! Really, what says "Thank God it's Friday" better than a sparkly, silver Dolce & Gabbana gown? The result? Lots of pictures of Naomi looking fabulous, showing the world how to dress if you know you are going to be on the 5 o'clock news.
Legendary Roman jeweler Bulgari has reclaimed its prime corner of The Crown Building at the Southwest corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue after an extensive renovation, and it looks like it has taken a few cues from its neighbor across the street, Tiffany, and also...Whole Foods? No, no they haven't installed an organic salad bar, but in recognition of Tiffany's "come one, come all" popularity, the company has done away with its opulent but intimidating façade in favor of airy windows and glass doors that automatically slide open just like...a supermarket!
Don't think that this means Bulgari is trading down, although in recent years they have expanded their product range dramatically in order to transform themselves from an exclusive maker of gems to an international luxury brand. They are still plenty fancy, but they want to show it off a bit more. The now airy main floor is devoted to unique jewelry pieces as well as the ever expanding watch line. There we found the eye-popping showpieces the company is known for but also the more accessibly priced BZero1 line for Bulgari beginners. The second floor and newly created mezzanine house the accessory collections, an opportunity to continue expanding their brand beyond jewelry, following the templates of Cartier and, yes, Tiffany. To celebrate the new store opening, Bulgari will be releasing new versions of one of their signature items from the past, necklaces featuring Fifth Century BC roman coins. It reminds The Shophound of the days when tight jeans, a white silk shirt and a Bulgari coin necklace were the calling card of the international jet set.
Bulgari 730 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, Midtown
Our friends at Curbed have pointed out that the Sun, of all people is confirming Barneys intentions to open a full line store on 14th street in the Meatpacking District, specifically at 401 West 14th street, once the home of Markt and Western Beef. Apparently every real estate source in town confirms the luxury retailer's strong interest, and Elliman's Faith Hope Consolo even claims that they are already buying goods to fill the store. Other sources in the past have variously put UNIQLO and Apple in the same space. The Shophound doesn't think Barneys is stocking the store just yet. If a lease were signed today, it is highly unlikely that the store would be ready to open before Spring '08 at the very earliest given the scale of the renovation and construction required to create a space to Barneys' specifications. This would be a full Barneys New York store, not a concrete floor and exposed beam Co-op. We do believe that they will wind up down there, the question is just where and when...
Storefronting Urgent Update: Barneys to MePa Confirmed!(Curbed)
In Boom Times, Barneys Seeks To Expand Enterprise (The Sun)
Madonna arrived at H&M today. No, not the superstar herself, but her heavily hyped clothing collaboration, M by Madonna, and those of you expecting a Lagerfeld/McCartney/Viktor&Rolf style feeding frenzy may be a little disappointed. Not that there was total disinterest either, but rather a healthy bunch of enthusiastic shoppers, indicating that the line will be a success, if not a worldwide phenomenon.This could be seen as an indication that a celebrity seal of approval mixed with aggressive advertising can encourage customers to come in and shop, but it takes designer credibility to create mass hysteria. As for the goods, there are some nice looking items, and some that look a little cheap, much like H&M's typical offerings. In fact, Madonna "collaborated" with the company's head of design, Margaretha van den Bosch, to design the line which would probably explain the collection's hyper-commercial direction. It looks like a nice bridge line designed to sell to the typical H&M customer, not someone who visits only when there is a special designer collaboration, which is why it will be available in every one of the company's stores. Aside from the label there's not much here that really screams "Madonna", at least not the way a cone bra or a mesh crop top with fingerless gloves and a crucifix would.
Haven't heard much from us about UNIQLO lately? Their Designer Invitation Project has recruited eight designers from the U.S. and Japan to create special collections for the store, and the first fruits of those collaborations have arrived at the big SoHo flagship. Truth be told, we were a little bit late on the scene, and the men's portion by Japan's Halb (pictured center) was mostly sold through unless you are a small fellow. There still appeared to be a good selection of looks from Kino (above right) and Lutz & Patmos (above left) remaining, but who can say what will be left after the first weekend of spring. We can report that the clothes look great. The quality level looked high, and the prices were mostly in line with UNIQLO's typical range, meaning low. The standout were the beautifully detailed knits from Lutz & Patmos that compared well with their main collection that usually hangs in stores like Barney's. They translated their looks into cotton, sometimes blended with cashmere for a capsule collection of great layering pieces in soft neutrals. While none of the special items had identifying labels, L&P managed to knit their name into some of the hems.
If, like The Shophound, you were a few days late to this party don't worry. The next group of collections are expected during the second week of April featuring Alice Roi. The men's group from Alexander Plokhov for Cloak should be arriving as well, though we have heard reports that the group was scratched after the unfortunate closing of the label. Hopefully we'll have one last chance to get some pieces from this inventive designer. If that's not enough, there is a fresh delivery of UNIQLO's exceptional printed tees, so you won't leave the store emptyhanded. Well, does anyone?
previously: UNIQLO Snags Cloak, Phillip Lim, Alice Roi and More for Exclusives
UNIQLO 546 Broadway, between Prince and Spring Streets, SoHo
If you do go closer, you will learn that 99 Greene Street is about to become the home of the first (at least as far as we can tell) Space.NK.apothecary store in the U.S. This British based chain has made a name for itself with its own skin care brands as well as other exclusive specialist lines like By Terry and Acqua di Parma. Lest you think that it will just be one more place to buy Diptyque candles, know that the chain has grown to over 50 stores in England alone since its founding in 1990. In other words, it's quite popular over there. As always, we will keep you updated as more information rolls in.