« October 2012 | Main | December 2012 »


The Pop-Up Flea Returns This Weekend

One of The Shophound's favorite pop-up events reappears this weekend. The Pop-Up Flea will stage it's fifth edition starting tomorrow afternoon through Sunday, this time at Chelsea's Drive-In studios. Produced by popular blogger and brand consultant Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean and Urban Daddy's Randy Goldberg, it has become an annual shopping bonanza for Heritage brands and younger, artisanal labels which aspire to similar authenticity, and also a symbol of the continuing and strangely paradoxical trendiness of well-worn classics, the more old and busted up, the better. This year's mix of visiting vendors includes regulars like Gitman Brothers, Tellason and Tanner Goods, bigger brands like L.L.Bean Signature, and new additions as well. Click the image above to enlarge the full roster. One of our favorite stores, California's Unionmade will be representing, and Levi's Vintage Clothing is promising a major display of motorcycle jackets and other biker gear and memorabilia from the archives of photographer Danny Lyon.

Expect to see a lot of guys with various iterations of hipster facial hair, an abundance of plaid flannel, and no shortage of men shod in well worn longwing brogues or work boots with white Vibram soles.

The Pop-Up Flea starts Friday November 30th at Drive-In Studios, 443 W 18th Street between 9th & 10th Avenues, Chelsea


Not So Fast Fashion Edition

29zCRITICAL4-popupIn today's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica braves the Fifth Avenue tourist throngs to get a look at Massimo Dutti, the latest European chain getting its feet wet in Manhattan before the inevitable rollout through America's shopping malls.

He manages to leave out a significant detail or two, mainly the fact that the store does, in fact, carry women's apparel as well as men's. Actually, the majority of the store is devoted to women's wear. He also buries the not unimportant point that Massimo Dutti is the slightly more sophisticated sibling to fast fashion phenomenon Zara.

Anyway, our shopper credits the store with filling a presumed gap between casual and dressy clothes for young men not quite ready for serious suit shopping —businesswear for beginners, so to speak. We aren't entirely sure that this is its intended direction. it seemed to us more like cut-rate Brunello Cucinelli or Ermenegildo Zegna. A (relatively) affordable version of refined Italian menswear is not necessarily a bad thing, even if it's by way of Spain and a host of Eastern European factories. Success is in the execution, however, which apparently isn't totally consistent,

But for every spot-on jacket or sweater, there were one or more items that seem designed for a less discerning customer. Take the froggy-green moto-style jacket ($368), or any of the denim, which felt glazed and cheap ($89.50).

Well, sometimes you get what you pay for. Will Massimo Dutti be a success bringing a fast-fashion point of view to a more elegant mode of dressing in America? We will probably only find out after it makes the move beyond Fifth Avenue, where the sidewalks are clogged with international tourists.

Critical Shopper: Courting the Man in the Middle By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Massimo Dutti 689 Fifth Avenue at 54th Street, Midtown


Will You Be Lining Up For The Latest J.Crew Sample Sale Today?

In what may not be the best timing ever, the latest edition of the J.Crew Sample Sale kicks off tomorrow, just as people are winding down from the extended Black Friday/Cyber Monday bargain fest that Thanksgiving weekend has become. Nonetheless,the sale has become known for attracting hordes of eager customers every time it appears. Pictured above is a table full of men's shoes (mostly around $100 for the dressy brogues in size 9 almost exclusively) which was the most fascinating part of the sale for us. In fairness, we got to the preview towards the end of the day, so if there was an abundance of something fantastic, other VIP shoppers may have grabbed the best stuff before we got there. What we found was the usual array of random samples, so finding something good was hit or miss, depending on what catches your eye —also known as standard sample sale shopping. We did notice a large number of peacoats and other outerwear priced around $150, which should go far in keeping some eager shoppers warm this season. There was also a big women's shoe presentation which should make plenty of folks happy. There is no posted price list, and items are priced individually. Most things seemed to be in the 60% off range, which seemed pretty fair to us for actual samples, which is what most of the merchandise is. Is it better than going to one of the big J.Crew flagships in the city on the day after Christmas? Probably not, but if you can't wait that long, this should provide a fix.

The J.Crew Sample Sale runs from November 27th to December 2nd at 260 Fifth Avenue between 28th & 29th Streets


Giorgio Armani, Façonnable, John Varvatos, Missoni, Nambé, Yves Saint Laurent, Victorinox, Waterford, Miu Miu, Steven Alan, Taryn Rose

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Happy clicking!

Cyber Monday Specials, Missoni, Swarovski Jewelry, Tara Pearls, EMU Australia, Akribos XXIV Watches, Soïa & Kyo, H2Pro Hair Tools, Valentino, Plenty by Tracy Reese, Alexia Admoor —join HERE
Giorgio Armani, Surface To Air, Ox & Bull Cufflinks, Façonnable, John Varvatos ★ USA, Vintage Watches, Thomas Pink, Saucony, Robert Graham, Edun —join HERE
Nambé, nuLoom, SodaStream, Missoni Home, Kitchen Aid, Rockabye, See Kai Run, Elephantito, Amelia Rose, Alex Toys, Tegu Magnetic Blocks —join HERE
Yves Saint Laurent, Sorel, Barbara Bixby, Le Creuset, Arte Italica, Stonewall Kitchen, Jakob Custom Clothiers, French Connection, Tommy Bahama Home, Victorinox, Butter, Rich & Skinny, Puracashmere, Liebeskind Handbags, FAO Schwarz, Magaschoni Men, Laundry by Shelli Segal, ISDA & Co., Amrita Singh, Mulberry, Via Spiga, J. McLaughlin, Waterford Linens —join HERE
Cyber Monday Specials, Ellen Tracy, Miu Miu, Prada, Phoebe Couture, Sydney Ewan Jewelry, Kenenth Cole, Missoni, Nuco, Bottega Veneta, Howe, Blue Marlin —join HERE
Desigual, Casual Couture, Kalorik, Nambé, Betsey Johnson, Crislu, La Fee Verte, Oryany —join HERE
7 For All Mankind, Vince Camuto, Jessica Simpson, Calvin Klein, C&C California, SHAE, Monster Headphones, Parvez Taj Art, Steve Madden, Ben Sherman, Tom Tom, Isola, NYX Cosmetics, Chan Luu, Velvet, Cynthia Steffe, Whitney Eve, New Balance, Erica Anenberg, Bespoke, Victorinox, Splendid, Muk Luks, Halston Heritage, Taryn Rose, John Varvatos ★ USA, Muse, Lauren Merkin —join HERE
Calvin Klein, Fila, John Varvatos ★ USA, Massimo Bizzocchi Ties, Block Accessories, Tailorbyrd, Florsheim Socks, Steven Alan, Eva Franco, Drew, Kenneth Jay Lane, Andrew Marc, Nine West, Sue Wong, Poleci, SeaVees, Emile et Rose, Anatex Toys, Masala Baby, Hello Kitty, Mezlan, Kinetix, Nuco, J.Campbell Los Angeles, Plenty by Tracy Reese, Melie Bianco, Yoana Baraschi, Chloe & Theodora Jewelry —join HERE
Rösle, Past-Present-Future Jewelry, Surya, Y-3, Blush —join HERE


Victorinox Returns To SoHo This Week

Victorinox05We are going to go out on a limb and say that there may be no more no more useful item to own than a Swiss Army Knife. The Shophound has had one for a few decades now, and we find ourself using it all the time. The only drawback is that due to TSA rules, we can't travel with one anymore, but that's not really the knife's fault, now is it?

Anyway, this is all to say that Victorinox, the maker of the Swiss Army Knife, and now so much more, is finally returning to SoHo after leaving its longtime Prince Street outpost last year. It sounds like, despite the extended hiatus, the brand has accomplished something of an upgrade. This Friday, an new Victorinox flagship is set to open in a repurposed, historic firehouse, the former home of Engine Company 13, Manhattan, at 99 Wooster Street. Originally, the brand was planning to reopen about a year ago a few doors up the street, but plans will change, and now Victorinox will also relocate its showroom and other North American business offices to the same building. The new store will open first, however, and WWD tell us that, like its predecessor, it will contain an even mix of the rugged apparel collection, luggage and travel gear, the ever growing line of watches, myriad permutations of the Swiss Army Knife, and its very respectable line of German steel cutlery. The setting, of course, will be a bit more evocative, incorporating much of the building's original architectural details and featuring a museum chronicling not only the history of the brand but also its new home. Look for the new store if you are brave enough to face SoHo on Black Friday, and pick up a Swiss Army Knife. They are typically quite affordable, and worth every penny.

Victorinox opening Friday at 99 Wooster Street between Prince and Spring Streets, SoHo
Victorinox Opens SoHo Flagship (WWD)

Time To Go: Two Big Watch Brands Exit SoHo As Victorinox & Swatch Shutter (8/2/11)


Marchesa, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Giuseppe Zanotti, Isaac Mizrahi, Gucci, Jil Sander, Waterford, Charles Jourdan, Emporio Armani

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Happy clicking!

Kimberly Ovitz, Eileen Fischer, Seychelles, Badgley Mischka, Susana Monaco, A.L.C., Giuseppe Zanotti, Sea Cashmere, Murad, Marchesa, Kevia Jewelry, BB Dakota, Geren Ford —join HERE
Ben Sherman, Helly Hansen, Tretorn, BTNS, Saucony, Trafalgar, Jacob Holston, C/89, Open Market, Edun, Carucci Watches, Sorel —join HERE
Pangea Home, iHome, Veuve Cliquot, Life of Pi, Level Naturals, Iittala, Wall Candy/Fatboy, Kid Motorz, Pour Deux Maternity, Random House, Pediped, CitiBlocks —join HERE
Soia & Kyo, Marc Jacobs, Chan Luu, Vineyard Vines, Tibi, Anne Klein, Red Jacket, Bric's, Hartstrings, & Kitestrings, Rebecca Peragine Art, La Perla, Lisa Schoor, Sesto Meucci, Tahari, Carmen Marc Valvo, Elle Macpherson Intimates, NuLoom, Emporio Armani, Alpha Industries, Bab Aspen, Crabtree & Evelyn, Toy Watch, Oakley, Christopher Radko Ornaments, Bluelab, Charisma, FENDI, Rizzy Rugs —join HERE
Lady Luxe Fine Jewelry, Stella McCartney/Bottega Veneta, Dermalogica, Hayden, Aishwarya by Amrapali Jewelry, Prada, Giuseppe Zanotti, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Jardin, Tommy Hilfiger, Scotch & Soda, Cohesive —join HERE
Boutique 9, Calvin Klein, Franco Sarto, Invicta, Isaac Mizrahi, Joan Vass/Premise, Nine West, Sienna Rose, Wow Couture, A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz, BCBGeneration, Tommy Girl, Berek —join HERE
BCBG Max Azria, Sam Edelman, Asprey of London, Gypsy 05, Miss Sixty, Calvin Klein, Adrienne Vittadini, Current Elliot, Via Spiga, Elie Tahari, Wusthof Cutlery, Original Penguin, NSF, Candela, Arthur Court, Jose Eber, Original Penguin, Dr. Martens, Portolano —join HERE
Gucci, Reebok, Gordon Rush Hand Made, D by D | D.GNAK, Kidrobot, Kenneth Gordon Dress Shirts, Scott James, Cushe Women's Footwear, Jil Sander Navy Shoes, Rachael Ray, Riviera Club, Rich & Skinny —join HERE
Charles Jourdan, Waterford, Marchesa —join HERE


There Is A LOT Of Maison Martin Margiela With H&M Left To Buy

Sorry you missed last Thursday's launch of H&M's collaboration with Maison Martin Margiela? Don't assume that it's all gone. Quite the contrary, In fact. For the past few of the Swedish fast-fashion's designer team-up's The Shophound has been quite grateful to be invited to the press-pre-shop events the night before the big launch, allowing us to trade the early morning wait in line and subsequent mad frenzy for a more exclusive early evening wait in line and a marginally less mad frenzy that comes with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres plus the occasional odd celebrity (This time it was actress and superstar spawn Tracee Ellis Ross and fashion personage Michelle Violy Harper). Mainly, we appreciate getting the pick of the merchandise before anything gets sold out. As we write this on Saturday, two days later, we are just coming from a visit to the H&M flagship on Fifth Avenue to see what was left from Thursday's launch, and as you can see from the picture above, what was left was pretty much everything. We stopped by the new Columbus Circle branch on our way home and found much the same scene. This is almost unheard of for H&M's collaborations. As an H&M staffer told us, by the end of the day after the Versace collaboration launched, there was barely a stitch of the collection left for anyone.

There could be several reasons for this particular state of affairs, and we are not willing to assume that customers were just not intersted in the Margiela line. One possibility is that H&M wanted there to be more opportunity for people to come in and buy the line instead of the typical gone-in-a-flash, one-day-only shelf life of these events. They may have deliberately shipped more merchandise so it would be available for longer. After all, this is the first time the chain has distributed the collaboration line to every Manhattan H&M store instead of just a select few. A company spokesperson told WWD, which reported lighter turnout for the launch, that they were selling the line as expected and deliberately expanded distribution to allow more people to sidcover it. That fits with our optimistic assessment of the situation.

There is also the possibility that Martin Margiela was a little too cool for the room. Past collections with Lanvin and Versace were sellouts, but then, they were also much more accessible in style, with lots of glamorous dresses. Even quirky Marni found an enthusiastic customer, but the Margiela brand has always had a peculiar aesthetic, forgoing labels featuring the designer's name, and often presenting and selling the line in bizarre, surrealist-inspired environments. This is the brand of a designer who to this day has refused to allow himself to be photographed, and most of his fans still have no idea what he looks like. They do know that he, and the team that has succeeded him routinely mix avant-garde items with fairly conventional and easy to understand pieces, but that may be a tough concept to put over to H&M's customers in one capsule collection that traces reproduced items from the label's archives. Of course, Comme des Garçons is no less avant-garde and sometimes even more bewildering, and that label's H&M collection from a couple of years ago was, as far as we can tell, considered a success. We aren't teribly surprised to see plenty of the sideways skewed $199 "Horizontal" dresses left, but many of the more conventionally styled pieces are still around as well.

The third possibility may be that this time the line may have just gotten too expensive with the priciest items nearly hitting the $400 line. We must note that this collaboration has been exceptionally successful in reproducing the unusual details, quality and unique fabric treatments that Margiela fans will immediately recognize. We have always suspected that these designer collaborations may be something of a loss leader, or at least a break-even proposition created to draw new customers to H&M as well as generate huge amounts of publicity, but we were still impressed with the way the chain managed to sell the collection for a fraction of Margiela's usual price tags. A fraction of the designer's very high prices, however is not necessarily that cheap. We noticed that the bulk of the line was priced at $99 or higher. The beautifully made men's coat for $249 may have been a bit too rich for H&M where its own merchandise is about half that price and less. Leathers and special pieces went higher. We were really impressed by the impeccable construction of the plexi-heeled pump (and all of the shoes in general), but $299 may be more than a splurge for H&M's customers. The men's chelsea boot at the same price is virtually identical to a style currently available at Mr. Porter for $865, but in the end, it's still a pair of $299 boots, and you can either afford them or you can't.

We still think that it's a great collaboration collection (and we sure have seen a lot of them lately), and as not much of a Margiela wearer in the past, we really love the pieces that we got for ourself. The big plus of there being a lot of this line left is that, possibly, sometime in the future, it may get marked down. If any of the above reasons kept you from getting some Margiela x H&M for yourself, you may get another chance to get it if you are patient and sharp-eyed.

Smaller Crowds Turn Out for Margiela at H&M (WWD)
Maison Martin Margiela with H&M
(Official Site)

Collaboration Anticipation: H&M Finds Another Hit With Maison Martin Margiela


H&M Finds Another Hit
With Maison Martin Margiela

H&M's new Columbus Circle branch will be opening with a bang today as it also helps to launch the chain's latest designer collaboration with Maison Martin Margiela. H&M gave the new store an extra PR push by moving last night's Press Pre-Shop to the brand new branch, giving everyone the opportunity to wait in line inside the comfort of Time Warner Center instead of on the sidewalk in front of the Fifth Avenue Flagship. Yes, even the press has queue up for these events, but at least we get to do it at a reasonable hour. Remembering what a madhouse the Marni collaboration pre-shop was earlier this year, The Shophound arrived a good 45 minutes early and scored a respectable spot somewhere near the first third of the line and promptly watched people quickly fall into place behind us until the doors opened at which point they were spilling beyond the red carpet and snaking their way through the mall's second floor. We have discovered that the pre-shop now seems more chaotic than the public openings for these events where shoppers are issued bracelets and instructed to return to shop at a specified time. For the preview crowd, it's still an old fashioned free-for-all, but with plentiful drinks and canapés. On top of everything, most of the shoppers last night had a couple of weeks to study the lookbooks and price lists so they knew exactly which items to focus in on —and woe to the person who comes between that shopper and the rack.

Luckily for us, the men's part of the collection was separated out on the store's second floor, sequestering it from the frenzy downstairs, which actually allowed us to peruse in relative peace, at least for a few moments. Actually, we weren't sure what, if anything, we really wanted from this particular team-up, but once we saw it in person, we could see that even though Margiela can be an esoteric, often inscrutable designer at times, the pieces chosen for this line had great appeal. Though we were tempted by the camel-colored coat with inverted lapels, we found ourselves checking out with the white trompe l'oeil high top sneakers, which we are betting will sell out fast, the tan cotton Trousers with jeans details (which were not included in the preview look book or price list) and the disgustingly titled "Mould effect belt" before we tore ourselves away. As reported earlier, this collection consists of items reproduced (quite impressively, by the way) from previous Margiela collections, and, following the designer's quirky style, each item has huge tags indicating the item's name and the collection in which it originally appeared. We wound up with items from 2004-2009, which proves that the brand that so many people still refer to as avant-garde turns out to be surprisingly timeless. Even showy signature pieces like the men's leather belt jacket proved to be popular with the men upstairs, and as we made our way back down to the main women's section, it seemed that every shopper had topped her armloads and bags full of stuff with the shiny, oversized Candy Wrapper clutch.

Again, we were struck by the high quality of the line, with many items looking nearly indistinguishable from the original Margiela pieces. Of course, the prices for H&M's collaborations seem to be inching up, with many pieces nearly hitting the $400 mark, but that doesn't seem to be detering anyone yet. Though there was no gift bag this time, we and the rest of the shoppers left with huge white shopping bags created just for the collaboration which will doubtlessly serve as free advertising on Manhattan's streets tomorrow. For eager shoppers today, we might suggest startng at the Columbus Circle store for the simple reason that many customers won't be aware that it is open yet. Get up early and good luck to you, and if you can't make it to the stores, it's already on eBay.

Maison Martin Margiela with H&M available today at select H&M stores