This week's Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica has really been embracing the "critical" side of his job in the Thursday Styles lately —as if he is feeling an urge to live up to the sometimes ruthless reputation of so many New York Times critics past and present. This week, the object of his ire is United Colors of Benetton, Both in its racy SoHo pop-up shop and its scaled down, midtown boutique. The famous Italian chain is taken to task for creating controversial advertisements and events that are bound to get someone's blood boiling. Often it has seemed like the brand is merely a vehicle for an inventive, abrasive advertising team, but lately, it hasn't been following its imagery up with interesting or even decent quality products.
No sweater radiated freshness, not the orange Fair Isle vest ($69) nor the gray Fair Isle cardigan that cut away at a 45-degree angle after the second button ($119). No amount of hard squinting gave them extra life.
Of course, this isn't exactly news, and we are a far cry from the 1980s when Benetton stores proliferated through Manhattan faster then the Gap. Still, one would have thought that at some point, someone at the company would have recognized that a product revamp was in order. Now, Uniqlo is eating Benetton's lunch, so all they seem to be proving now is that they can still get some press and prudish outrage.