This weekend's big news was that Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons would be opening the third version of her Dover Street Market retail concept right here in New York.
At the corner of Lexington Aveue and 30th Street.
Yes, folks, that's the middle of a luxury retail wasteland. Though it's hardly a bad neighborhood, it is primarily home to, as WWD put it, nail parlors and Indian restaurants. In fairness, it's really more of a typical Manhattan mixed use are which also features a number of home furnishings and other types of showrooms as well as plenty of apartments of all kinds. It's certainly not the center of high fashion retailing, which, if you know anything about Rei Kawakubo, is exactly how she likes it. She famously moved her Comme des Garçons store out of SoHo as the neighborhood became a retail hub in favor of the then retail starved far West 22nd Street, soon followed by Balenciaga's first U.S. store (which is now destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, but soon to be replaced by a lavish new location in... SoHo). She prefers to be in out the way places. Even a rare Comme des Garçons Sample Sale was held in a random West Side location in recent years, but Dover Street Market is no mere designer flagship. In addition to all of the various Comme des Garçons lines, it is expected, like the other current locations in London and Tokyo, to carry a mix of other designer labels, many of which are much less avant garde than the famous Japanese trailblazing brand. Designers like Thom Browne, Lanvin, Marni, Giambattista Valli and Givenchy to name a few are featured in the stores. The new version is set to open in about a year, so we don't yet know which other labels will be carried, but the designer has leased 20,000 feet on seven floors of a landmarked former bank from 19009. There will be plenty of room for all sorts of cool stuff, and we can confidently predict that its opening will be one of the main retail events of next Fall (presuming that it opens on time).
Over at Racked, Frank Gargione seems to see the venture as something of a folly, predicting that the tore will get lost in the nowheresville neighborhood, which is an understandable reaction. However, we wouldn't underestimate Rei Kawakubo or her husband and Comme des Garçons CEO Adrian Joffe. Together they have built an empire out of fashion that most people scratch their heads at, wondering who would ever wear such bizarre creations? This isn't their first version of this concept, and while the area isn't especially chic, it isn't that far from places that are. After all, the southern edge of Murray Hill isn't the other side of the world, and it is only a couple of blocks from the 69th Regiment Armory, which is turned into the white hot center of the fashion world twice a year when Marc Jacobs stages his runway shows there. We say, get ready for new York's next Important Store.
Dover Street Market to Open in New York (WWD)
Coach Fans, Ugg Wearers: Comme des Garçons Is Coming for You (Racked)
Dover Street Market (Official Site)