Remember when Vera Wang was going to open a flagship boutique on Mercer Street in SoHo?
It's been taking so long to put that place together that we practically forgot about it, but the store is happening and will open November 28th to add its part to this year's Black Friday frenzy.
While her original Madison Avenue shop still caters to brides, this new boutique will focus on Wang's ready-to-wear and less expensive Lavender labels, and will be the home to an elaborate interior design by Gabellini Sheppard Associates incorporating interchangeable elements to be reconfigured seasonally.
A stone's throw from Marc Jacobs and Marni, The multi-level 2,500 square foot space has 40-foot ceilings in places, and was subject to approval by the building's co-op board before Wang could proceed. "I found this space and held onto it for two years because I couldn’t decide on an architect and I wasn’t about to rush,” she tells WWD, “There are very edgy, cool New Yorkers here — Marci Klein lives upstairs. Everyone in this building are major stylistas — Fabien Baron, André Balazs. It was a rough board.”
The Shophound looks forward to a more detailed report after the Thanksgiving weekend.
For now, we are out of town for the holiday.
Enjoy your turkeys and best of luck to those venturing out for the record levels of Black Friday promotions this season. Stay focused and keep those elbows out.
Wang’s New SoHo Store Plays With Proportions (WWD)
Vera Wang Opens Friday November 28 at 158 Mercer Street between Houston & Prince Streets, SoHo
Is H&M's annual designer exclusive program about to go bi-annual?
The Swedish retailer has just announced its next collaborator, British designer Matthew Williamson, but the big news is that rather than planing the event for November as has been the past pattern, the project will hit store shelves and racks at the end of April 2009. A small women's line will debut on the 23rd of the month with a larger delivery of additional merchandise to include men's items a few weeks later.
So far, the chain hasn't made a misstep with its designer program, and even in a market that has become awash in "Designer X" exclusively for "Mass Retailer Y" labels, H&M can still whip customers into a frenzy and sell out within hours, even with labels as avant-garde as Comme des Garçons.
Like that most recent collaboration, the Williamson line's first delivery will be carried in only 200 of the chain's locations, but in a new twist, the second delivery will be rolled out to the entire chain. This will certainly be good news to those who might actually have something more important to do on April 23rd than claw their way to a well-priced dress, and it allows H&M to capitalize on these events beyond the initial blink-and-you-missed-it morning kick-off.
Given the gloomy state of things at all levels of retail, H&M is fighting back with what it does best. How will other stores follow suit?
H&M Teams With Matthew Williamson (WWD)
We have been trying to stay as upbeat as possible in our reporting on the comings and goings of stores, but to be honest, these days there just seem to be more goings than comings. The latest news comes from WWD, and it hurts to hear that one of the city's most innovative and influential retailers is retreating home. Linda Dresner will close her eponymous boutique on Park Avenue at the end of December. Her original Michigan store will remain open. Her lease is coming to an end, and, astonishingly, her landlord wanted to increase her rent in this economic climate. Reportedly, her rent is around the $500,000 mark for 34,000 square feet at 59th Street and Park Avenue.
Dresner was known for her minimalist boutique that influenced store design for the end of the 20th Century as well as a sharp eye for unknown desigers who would go on to become major players like John Galliano, Comme des Garçons and most notably, Jil Sander. Her store was the last luxury women's boutique on a short stretch of Park Avenue that once included legendary shops like Martha and Sara Fredericks. Dresner represented a more modern, updated version of that salon style of retailing. She notes that it became much harder for her store to remain exclusive and special among the vast proliferation of designer stores in New York which will be less of a problem in her hometown of Bormingham, Michigan. "The audience that likes these clothes is large, but it’s not huge in Michigan," the retailer tells WWD, "We still have a strong signature. We can cope with the ups and downs easier in Michigan.”
In fact, it is to Michigan that her excess inventory will be sent after next month, so don't wait around for an "Everything Must Go!" liquidation sale, though Dresner is offering deep discounts like every other retailer at the moment.
The good news is that Dresner has not ruled out a return to New York if conditions improve and an appropriate location can be found. For now, however, we will have to bid adieu to a small but essential part of the city's retail family.
Dresner Checks Out: Park Ave. Retail Icon Succumbs to Economy (WWD)
Pop-up specialist Den has made itself useful while it waits for its next occupant by clearing out excess stock from sibling stores Odin and Pas de Deux.
Those of you who are familiar with Den know that it's a pretty tiny space, so it gets crowded when even four or five people enter, but once inside, the place is busting with goods from Odin's usual roster of designers which includes labels like Rag & Bone, Tim Hamilton and Robert Geller. Like all clearance sales, it's hit or miss depending on your size, but prices generally looked to run about 75% off or more which is a good deal by anybody's standards. That means a Cheap Monday coat was a whopping $20 over the weekend, and premium denim from Rag & Bone and Kicking Mule Workshop was down to $49 from their usual $200+ levels. We also saw Y-3 sneakers and lots of Spring/Summer goods that were so cheap it would be worth buying early for next year or maybe your sunny Winter vacation. Since Pas De Deux only just opened, there is mostly menswear here, but there are a few women's items kicking around, and some tiny men's sizes left that might be more suitable for women anyway (like a big stack of Cheap Monday Jeans, for example).
We have no end date for this sale, but we know they have to get the space ready for its next pop-up, Richard Chai (who just happens to be Odin co-owner Eddy Chai's brother).
Den hosts Odin's Clearance Sale 333 East 11th Street between 1st & 2nd Avenues, East Village
In a year's time Japanese retailer MUJI appears to have captivated New Yorkers and our guests so much that a fourth store is set to open this week.
Normally, MUJI picks an opening date that it cal call its own for maximum publicity purposes, but this year they will be competing with drastic specials and early bird doorbusters on Black Friday, November 28th.
For those who can't bear the throngs of anxious bargain hunters (and really, who can?), MUJI should be a civilized alternative for day-after-Thanksgiving shopping. In any event, the store is making its first weekend extra worthwhile with giveaways for the faithful.
On Friday, the first 200 customers in after the store opens at 1 PM will receive a set of "New York In A Bag".
Saturday's treat for 200 is the New York handkerchief.
Sunday's giveaway is the Stamp Empire State Building.
We don't really need a free incentive to go shopping at MUJI, and since they have merchandised each location slightly differently, we are looking forward to seeing what new items the new shop has to offer- more furniture perhaps?
We can only hope.
MUJI Chelsea opens Friday November 28th at 1 PM, 16 West 19th Street, Flatiron District
While retail news may seem grim, things aren't at a total standstill these days. Our friends at RACKED tell us that burgeoning contemporary brand Vince has nabbed a highly desirable spot at the corner of Little West 12th and Washington Streets. This puts them only a door or two away from Tory Burch's upcoming shop and
the Scoop colony. Things seem to have fallen into a particular pattern in the Meatpacking District as more actual meatpackers exit, leaving more available retail space. The highest end designers like Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney have taken the 14th Street corridor anchored by Jeffrey, while the contemporary labels have settled on Washington Street led by Scoop and Diane Von Furstenberg at the top corner.
All these contemporary labels form the backbone of Scoop's vendor list. As they fill up the area, we wonder whether there will be anything left there that doesn't have its own shop a few steps down the road? Perhaps its time for Scoop to start looking for some new labels.
Storecasting: Vince Claims Coveted MePa Corner (RACKED)
Let's just give Steve & Barry's a moment for trying, really trying to stay afloat.
The mass retailer just filed Chapter 11 ...again.
The home of Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten and Stephon Marbury's Starbury among other celebrity endorsed labels already went that route once this year and was purchased, albeit in a pared down form, by Bay Harbour Management and York Capital Management. Only a few days ago, the company named former Macy's Chairman Hal Kahn as CEO, which may have led to the filing. While in the process of closing underperforming locations and liquidating excess merchandise, the worsening retail environment has clearly made it unfeasible to continue operating the chain in any form. Presumably the company is now looking to liquidate entirely.
At this point, many seemed to be waiting for the chain to be put out of its misery already, but what remains to be discovered is the fate of the many celebrity brands it sold. If it is the stars, (also including athletes Venus Williams, Laird Hamilton, Bubba Watson and Ben Wallace as well as actress Amanda Bynes) who hold the trademarks to the labels, then it is possible that they might wind up at other retailers in the future. However, if Steve & Barry's owns the trademarks, they could be sold as part of the liquidation.
More information is sure to follow, but this story can be chalked up to a great idea meeting shaky management and poor market conditions.
Steve & Barry's Files for Bankruptcy(WWD)
It's almost Thanksgiving, and that means that in Retail Time it's well into Christmas season. This year, in efforts to pump up increasingly anemic sales, stores are anxious to start the holiday period as soon as possible, so walking around midtown, it looks more like mid-December, with the extra-cold weather adding extra atmospheric effect.
Our friends at RACKED have been following the progress of Barneys New York's famous windows, which are planned and designed months in advance. Knowing how much work goes into their execution, it's difficult to criticize them, but here we go anyway.
This season, the slogan is "Have a Hippie Holiday" as Barneys celebrates the 50th anniversary of the peace sign. In a holdover from last year's "Green" theme, the retailer has commissioned its favorite designers to create outfits out of sustainable materials commemorating the symbol, some of which are surprisingly smart and appealing while others are...not.
Our question is, since when did Barneys become such a schoolmarm?
It's not that the windows are bad or inept. Far from it. They are still funky and clever, but for a company whose holiday displays became famous for being wickedly funny, irreverent and potentially inappropriate, the latest turn towards politically correct virtue is something of a letdown.
We are in full support sustainable materials and peace, but wasn't this year the perfect (and hopefully only) opportunity to do a merciless Sarah Palin window? The woman was comedy gold, and obviously a shopper. As always, there continues to be an endless supply of public figures in need of deflating, a job Barneys used to do with great skill and glee.
On the plus side, around the corner on 61st street, Barneys has, as in recent seasons, devoted a window to paintings by students of the East Harlem School which are for sale to benefit the school. The bright, graphic children's artworks have more verve and energy than peace dresses by famous designers. You would have to be made of granite not to be charmed by them.
Perhaps Barneys will never be able to live up to the creativity of its holiday windows from the '80s and '90s, but windows full of merch, however exclusive it might be, will never replace the sneaky satire of years past.
We're all for virtue, but frankly, what customers could probably use right now is more funny.
Barneys New York Madison Avenue at 61st Street, Midtown
More pictures after the jump
Just the other day we were wondering when that Miu Miu boutique would finally open on East 57th Street. After all, the spot's previous tenant, Jil Sander, had already completed elaborate renovations on a new SoHo flagship that had been open for months, and yet Miu Miu's windows remained covered without even a teaser image to advertise the upcoming store.
It turns out that our doubts were premature, as Miu Miu uncovered its windows and opened its doors for business yesterday to a huge replacement for its former Madison Avenue location.
Actually, the basic 3-floor scheme that Jil Sander left behind remains relatively unchanged, though the once pristine walls are now covered and draped in Miu Miu's signature chartreuse brocade. The main floor is mostly devoted to accessories and sizable selection of shoes. More clothes are found upstairs on the second floor past handsome but stony salesmen stationed sentrylike at the landings, and up on the third floor you will find only a few more dresses and handbags as well as the feeling that this is an awful lot of space for a Miu Miu boutique.
This is the part where we remember that the space once housed both the full mens and womens apparel and accessory collections from Jil Sander, a brand that has several years of development on Miu Miu. In fact, there wouldn't be a Miu Miu boutique there at all if parent company Prada didn't need something to fill the former Sander store whose lease they retained after selling off the label. Faced with a glut of retail square footage, Prada's plan to elevate the status of Miu Miu from Prada Jr. to it's own fully fledged designer collection now looks a bit overambitious as the third level of the shop is partially closed off due to a sheer lack of merchandise. Frankly, even two floors looks like a bit of a stretch at the moment.
So, yeah, a huge three level Miu Miu flagship on East 57th street a few steps from Chanel, Dior and Burberry is just a bit of overkill, and possibly represents some wishful thinking on Prada's part, especially given the current conditions. On the plus side, the extra work put into differentiating the look of the once secondary brand is evident, and there are some pretty spectacular shoes waiting to be tried on which are still priced a notch or two below Prada. This makes them practically a bargain in this neighborhood. Lets hope for Miu Miu's sake that they get to stay, and maybe those salesmen will crack a smile.
Miu Miu 11 East 57th Street, between Fifth & Madison Avenues, Midtown
When we saw that this week's critical shopper, Cintra Wilson, was visiting the Oscar de la Renta boutique on Madison Avenue in tomorrow's Thursday Styles, we immediately flashed back to last year when, early in her CS tenure, La Cintra laid into Valentino in a way we thought might have been a bit unfair. Was Oscar in for the same anti-establishment treatment?
Perhaps a year ad a half of store reviews have had their effect, because a new appreciation for the craftsmanship that Oscar and his ilk represent seems to have taken hold.
Cintra even admits that she entered the project with her prejudices intact, was quickly seduced by the
dark rich side.
I was forced to abandon this craven and faulty reasoning within about five minutes of stepping inside the boutique. I felt as if I wasn’t in a clothing store so much as a kind of museum-cum-petting zoo, where ordinary people are miraculously allowed to walk straight up to the racks and fondle hugely expensive and beautiful garments without even having to remove their shoes and belt, wait through a security line, surrender electronic devices or endure a 200-kilovolt warning Taser.
And therein lies the genius of Oscar. You think it's for prissy old ladies until you see something that's just so damn beautiful and exquisitely made, which doesn't take very long. In the end, Cintra is won over in theory, if not in actual practice since his main collection these days is generally prohibitively expensive for all but a small segment of the population from which he draws his customers.
I was really impressed by a standard piece one sees at charity functions for the square and elderly: a sequined, Republican banquet-wife bolero jacket. I usually find them ghastly, but Oscar de la Renta’s had soul: layered stacks of black and blood-red sequins, fused with cross-hatched black and red stitching into a compellingly rich pattern somewhat dizzying in its artistry. It was entirely counterintuitive, but this Nancy Reagan garment looked downright hardcore: primitive, even a little brutal.
And so we now find La Cintra with a somewhat more open mind, but no less skillful at turning a phrase. Of course, we don't want her to mellow out too much. Quick, somebody send her to Ed Hardy or True Religion so she can keeps those knives sharp.
Critical Shopper | Oscar de la Renta: Play Along, if You Dare By Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Oscar de la Renta 772 Madison Avenue at 66th Street, Upper East Side
Previously: Cintra Wilson Goes Shopping: Tell Us Something We Don't Know Edition