Why, just last week we wrote about the potential battle between Apple and Nike for the former FAO Schwarz space on the 58th Street side of the GM Building (pictured above), and now the status quo has changed as another player, Under Armour, appears to have entered the fray. According to Crain's, the burgeoning performance athletic-wear company is in talks to take over at least part of the space that the legendary toy store has left vacant. Does that mean that Under Armour will now be nestled among Cartier, Apple and Bergdorf Goodman's Men's store which will be its neighbor across the street?
Reports say that the former toy palace with 13,ooo square feet on the ground floor and 40,000 on the second level is ultimately likely to be divided, and we don't know if Under Armour may be in talks for the whole thing or part of it, though if Nike is still looking to get into the space after its lease extension on 57th Street expires, it is unlikely that it would accept Under Armour as a direct adjacency.
Cartier's store on the 59th street side of the GM Building is technically temporary, and though there has been talk of the jewelry company holding on to it even after it's landmarked townhouse on Fifth Avenue is finally restored and renovated, it could also be in play within the next year or two.
The real question here, though, is whether or not Under Armour belongs in the GM Building amongst rarefied luxury flagships as well as the only electronics company that approaches luxury brand status? Nike, for all its prosaic qualities, has a coolness factor that allows it to be included amongst the avant-garde designers curated at Comme des Garçons' Dover Street Market. We could see it moved to the GM Building, but Under Armour? Does it really have that level of prestige?
We tend to think no, not that that has any bearing on whether or not a lease will be negotiated and signed. It does, however, remind us of the early 1990s, when there was a multi-level Warner Brothers Studio Store on the corner of 57th and Fifth, and a few blocks down Fifth Avenue, shoppers found an equally lavish Walt Disney store. Retailers in the neighborhood griped that the stores were degrading the area's prestige level (though there were fewer complaints when Nike took over the beleaguered space that was originally Bonwit Teller's replacement store). Eventually, those two cartoon palaces became Louis Vuitton and The Polo Store, and all was once again right with Fifth Avenue. Will the same sentiments follow Under Armour to the GM Building. The brand seems at home with a huge flagship on lower Broadway in SoHo, but will is be as comfortable a fit on one of New York's most luxurious corners?
Most recent reports are telling us that this year has brought tough times for retail real estate with shopping falling short of projections for the past couple of seasons, but in Manhattan, the right space is still in demand.
Take the now long-empty Fifth Avenue space in the GM Building vacated by FAO Schwarz last year (pictured above). for several months now, we have all been under the impression that Apple will temporarily take over the space while it renovates its 24-hour flagship store underneath the building's plaza, but now we are told that the tech company is now looking to add all or part of the above-ground store as permanent space. This comes on the heels of reports that had Nike negotiating for the space, but it has also been reported that the sneaker icon has renewed its Niketown lease on East 57th Street through 2022. While they may still be interested in the GM building space, ultimately, the building's owner, Boston Properties, will have to decide if it is worth it to keep the space empty for Nike for a few more years, or to make a deal with Apple which is said to be balking at the $2,700 to $4,450 per square foot asking rent for the space and feels it deserves a break since it has drawn such attention and prestige to the location with its store. Will Apple need all 61,000 square feet in addition to its underground space. How will they differentiate merchandise for two side-by-side stores? Will there be an underground passageway to connect the two separate spaces, or will some other mega-brand swoop in to take over the still-prestigious retail space out from under both Apple and Nike's noses?
We should know these answers soon —or maybe not. Essentially, we will hear it when we hear it.
Apple likely to expand at GM Building on “temp” basis (TheRealDeal)
While the next Costume Institute exhibition isn't expected until next month, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has already announced its Spring 2016 blockbuster show, manus x machina: fashion in an age of technology (lower case specified). The exhibition will explore how designers are negotiating the impact of all sorts of technological advances on the still artisanally-based business of creating high fashion.
In a statement announcing the upcoming exhibition, Andrew Bolton, Curator in The Costume Institute explained, "Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the handmade and the machine-made, but recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other. manus x machina will challenge the conventions of the hand/machine dichotomy, and propose a new paradigm germane to our age of digital technology."
To support the exhibition, the Met has landed the perfect major sponsor, Apple, who will be represented at the Met Gala that always launches the show by its celebrated Chief Design Officer Jonathan Ive who has his own point of view on the marriage of design and technology, "Both the automated and handcrafted process require similar amounts of thoughtfulness and expertise. There are instances where technology is optimized, but ultimately it's the amount of care put into the craftsmanship, whether it's machine-made or hand-made, that transforms ordinary materials into something extraordinary."
The exhibition will include examples dating from the 1880s to designer offerings from 2015 that show the impact of technology on fashion starting with the invention of the sewing machine up to 3-D printed clothing which will be demonstrated in workshops where visitors will see garments being created. Like recent spring Costume Institute exhibitions, manus x machina will utilize the entire gallery space of the Anna Wintour Costume Center as well as another section of the museum, in this case, The Robert Lehman Wing galleries. A long list of designers featured includes big names like Chanel, Alexander Wang and Prada as well as technical innovators of the past like Mary McFadden, Issey Miyake, Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne as well as contemporary envelope pushers like Iris van Herpen (dress, pictured above) and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons.
And, oh yeah, there's the big Met Gala.
In addition to Apple's Jony Ive, the ever fascinating party will be co-chared by Anna Wintour, actor Idris Elba and general media phenomenon Taylor Swift (this was bout to happen, obviously). Miuccia Prada, karl Lagerfeld and Louis Vuitton's Nicolas Ghesquière will serve as honorary chairs, so look for lots of celebrity guests to be wearing in Prada, Chanel, Fendi and Vuitton.
The exhibition is set open on May 5, so make your plans early. The Museum is offering advance ticket purchases to avoid long waits. Recent costume Institute shows have wildly exceeded expectations even without singular designer subjects. the recent China Through The Looking Glass broke records and featured a spectacular exhibition design that manus x machina is sure to top.
In the meantime, you have only a little over a month to wait to see the Costume Institute's next show, Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style, which opens on November 19th and runs through February 21st.
Apple's new product announcement event is still going on as we type this, but the biggest fashion news for the tech giant was pushed to the front of the agenda as its first Apple Watch collaboration was announced with none other than the most luxe of the luxe, Hermès.
Is that exclusive enough for you?
This was a development that was conspicuously not bandied about by the tech blogs which have been breathlessly reporting on rumored product developments for the past few weeks (giant iPad Pro with high tech pencil stylus confirmed), so it was a genuine surprise.
The Apple Watch Hermès will be available in October at select retailers. it comes with a classic single strap, signature double tour (see image above) or wider cuff strap, all with a customized Hermès watch face. Perhaps this is the push that was needed to get the Apple Watch into real luxury players like Barneys and Neiman Marcus. So far we have no price info yet for the watches, but stay tuned. We will update as soon as more information is released.
Now that Apple has updated the Apple Watch page, we can offer some more specific details about the new collaboration.
For starters, these are emphatically not separate bands for individual purchase as has been reported by some outlets, but only sold with Apple Watches in polished stainless steel and a custom Hermès face that will only be available on these models. Here are the prices for the three styles:
Double Tour in 38mm with four band colors: Fauve, Etain, Capucine, and Bleu Jean
Single Tour in 38 or 42mm with Fauve or Noir bands. Capucine band only in 38mm
- $1,100 and up
Cuff in 42mm with a Fauve band
The Cuff style has a cut-out in the back of the watch to allow the heart rate sensor to be in contact with the wrist. So far, we do not know if versions of the band can also be purchased with the gold Apple Watch Edition, but it is not listed as an option on the site.
As for stores that will be carrying the watch next month, there are only 17 North American retail outlets listed including Apple Stores in Eaton Center and Yorkdale in Toronto, Aventura and Miami Beach in Florida, The Grove in Los Angeles, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Santa Monica. Hermès boutiques to be selling the watch include Beverly Hills, Miami and San Francisco. The only third party retailer listed so far is Maxfield in Los Angeles. In New York, the watches will be available only at Hermès on Madison Avenue and the Apple Stores on Fifth Avenue, Prince Street in SoHo and Broadway on the Upper West Side.
After the jump, click to enlarge some official images of the three styles
Concluding one of the most excruciatingly protracted product rollouts we have ever witnessed, Apple has finally opened up its reservation system for making Apple Watch purchases in its U.S. stores. Created to avoid the outsized queues of shoppers clamoring to buy the coveted timepiece on a first-come-first-served basis, the system now allows customers to choose a model on the Apple website and then choose a store based upon availability along with a designated time to stop buy in pick it up in a specially designed paper bag. While the watch has been available to be shipped directly through Apple for a few weeks now, buyers would have generally had to make the purchase before seeing the item in person and would also have been precluded from paying in cash if they so desired. Customers will now be able to walk out of a store with them starting today. Shoppers will be required to bring I.D. and will be able to try on the model before making a final decision and purchasing in the store.
The new system should mollify the amazingly cranky neighbors of the newest Apple Store at 74th Street and Madison Avenue who are still fearful that the store will disrupt their peaceful neighborhood with long hours and even longer lines of customers on the sidewalks there for product launches. The real test will come in September when the next iteration of the iPhone will presumably become available, but by then we are betting that the furor over the new store should have died down.
While we don't yet know what will ultimately become of the FAO Schwarz retail space in the GM Building after the iconic toy store moves out on July 15th, we now know that the next immediate tenant will be the Apple Store which is reportedly taking over the place while its main flagship store underneath the plaza in front of the building undergoes an extensive renovation. The news was disclosed by Apple retail chief, senior vice president Angela Ahrendts to the Associated Press in an interview promoting the company's newest outlet set to open tomorrow on Madison Avenue. Though that new store will contain the company's signature minimalist wooden tables and fixtures, the building around it is reported to be a meticulous restoration of the former U.S. Mortgage & Trust building which will include chandeliers re-produced from vintage photographs and the original vault converted into a private shopping area —fitting for the store located in the neighborhood most conducive for selling the pricey golden AppleWatch Edition.
But back to Fifth Avenue. The famous store with the "cube" is included among the roughly 20 U.S. Apple Stores set for major renovation as they have outgrown their spaces since the introduction of the iPhone and other new products that have transformed the company's offerings. Exactly when the Fifth Avenue store's renovation will begin or how long it will take is unclear, though it is likely to start as soon as the FAO Schwarz space can be converted to Apple's temporary requirements. When that happens, the GM Building's Fifth Avenue retail spaces will be entirely devoted to temporary stores with Cartier on the northern corner, waiting for its own flagship a few blocks downtown to finish its extensive revamp, and Apple on the southern side. While the famous "cube" entrance is expected to remain, it sounds like the rest of the store will be dramatically updated. Whether or not the temporary store will maintain the flagship's 24-hour schedule is also unknown at the moment, but Apple is uniquely fortunate to be able to take over a large high profile location only steps away so it can continue doing business at it's highest volume retail outlet without any interruption.
Well, you can't please everybody.
Since it was discovered that an Apple Store was opening on the corner of Madison Avenue and 74th Street, (pictured at right under construction) a group of neighborhood residents has been protesting that new establishment would destroy the genteel character of the neighborhood and create disruptive lines with the company's periodic product launches. Last week, 89-year-old Herbert Feinberg, a longtime neighborhood resident and the leader of this NIMBY protest, filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court to prevent the store's opening which is scheduled for this Saturday, June 13th. Court papers state, "Madison Avenue is one of the great New York City Streets ... (and local residents) are opposed to the congestion and commercialization of the neighborhood that the store will bring,” as the suit attempts to prosecute complaints about the upcoming store such as the "massive increase in pedestrian traffic" it is expected to bring. According to Feinberg, the neighborhood is only meant for small luxury boutiques and galleries. Despite the measurable drop in traffic since the Whitney Museum at Madison and 75th decamped for the Meatpacking District, The Metropolitan Museum of Art which is planning to make use of the building in the coming months, is expected to make up the shortfall with even larger crowds. The suit also refers to the over 400 signatures Mr. Feinberg has collected to block the store as the leader of group called "Saving the 74th Street Residential Neighborhood." Of course, it has been widely reported that merchants on Madison Avenue above 72nd Street are suffering from the drop in traffic since the Whitney's departure, and are actually hoping that the Apple Store will do exactly what Mr. Feinberg is predicting it will in bringing shoppers to the area.
According to the Daily News, Mr. Feinberg has taken it upon himself to personally file suit because the city officials responsible for such zoning issues had ignored his pleas to save the neighborhood from this retailing scourge, which would actually suggest that they are ignoring frivolous and unreasonable complaints, hopefully in favor of dealing with more pressing issues. Though The Shophound is not a legal expert, it is hard for us to imagine that any judge not dismissing this case outright , especially since Apple claims to have specifically conceived the store to be in keeping with the neighborhood's hours and character and no actual laws or zoning rules appear to have been violated. It doesn't seem like this will end well for Mr. Feinberg who is likely to have accomplished no more than confirming the stereotype of Upper East Siders as self centered snobs.
Basically, there is no product launch this season that can compare with the Apple Watch.
It has captured the imagination of the gadget-buying public like nothing else, and it though it will start shipping next week for an April 24th delivery to lucky early bird pre-orderers, we won't see it in stores for at least a couple of months. Anyone who thinks that they can line up outside the city's various Apple Stores to get first dibs will be sorely disappointed come next Friday, and if you see someone trying, you are now officially allowed to taunt them and throw things at them.
Well, maybe not throw things, but feel free to tell them not to waste their time.
No less credible a source than Angela Ahrendts, Apple's head of retail, sent a memo to employees this past week informing them that there would be no stock available for walk-in customers on the 24th, and there probably wouldn't be any until June, possibly July —which is why the company has been previewing the new line in stores before it becomes available to purchase in person. She writes in the memo, reprinted by The Telegraph,
"It's important to remember that Apple Watch is not just a new product but an entirely new category for us," she wrote. "There's never been anything quite like it. To deliver the kind of service our customers have come to expect — and that we expect from ourselves — we designed a completely new approach. That's why, for the first time, we are previewing a new product in our stores before it has started shipping."
Supplies are reportedly so tight that pre-ordering after an in-store examination may be the only way to buy the watch from an official outlet for months to come, perhaps until it is time to launch the inevitable Apple Watch 2 .One result of this will likely be discouraging the alleged straw purchasers who clogged lines outside stores last Fall when the iPhone 6 launched. It is widely believed that these customers, willing to wait in extensive lines repeatedly, were diverting their purchases to international gray markets where the phone was not yet available. Ahrendts, however does not make mention of this in her memo, rather stressing that a unique new product needs to be rolled out in a slow and controlled manner. There is also no suggestion that this will become the new standard procedure for other launches, so when the presumed new iPhone (6S? 6C?) is released this fall, we can reasonably expect to see a return to the familiar sight of lines of customers sweeping down the sidewalks.
The long awaited Apple Watch hits stores today, but just to look at.
If you are thinking of having a closer look at the luxury Apple Watch Edition, don't think you can just wander into any Apple Store and stroll up to a table to get your paws on it. All viewing for the luxury model is by appointment only, which can be set up here. While there were rumors that Apple was in discussion with prominent luxury retailers to launch the watch, it looks like the gleaming gold version will not be available at Colette in Paris where an exclusive preview party was held during Paris Fashion Week in October or at any other third party store except for Selfridges in London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Isetan in Tokyo which all have permanent leased Apple retail stores under their roofs. The Edition model will be restricted to only 53 select Apple stores worldwide for the launch. According to AppleInsider, only 21 of those locations are in the U.S. including the Fifth Avenue flagship, SoHo and Broadway and 67th Street on the Upper West Side. Most of the other locations are concentrated on the East and West coasts with the exceptions of two Chicago Area stores and one each in Dallas and Houston. Internationally, the Edition model will be sold only in Canada, Australia, the U.K., France, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan at no more than three points of sale in each country. In all of continental Europe, only five stores will have it, which is a tiny breadth of distribution compared to other luxury watch brands. The only other country with more than three points of sale for the Edition will be Mainland China which will have it in 12 of its 19 Apple stores in addition to all three Hong Kong stores.
More than any other product launch in the past, Apple is encouraging hungry customers to pre-order all models of the Apple Watch online. There will be no stock available for walk-in customers when the watches officially hit the market on April 24th, so don't look for lines around the corner forming in the days before the 24th. This should be a disappointment to the legions of alleged gray-market cash purchasers we saw last Fall when the iPhone 6 was released, who may be part of the reason behind this policy. As of this morning, pre-order supplies for the launch day were swept up within minutes of becoming available online. Ship times for back orders are already at four to six weeks and are expected to go higher before the end of the day. If you haven't already secured one, then you should prepare to be very patient.
This morning on the news, newscasters noted that the big Apple Watch announcement was scheduled for today, and the big question was whether or not people would really want such a device?
Well, we watched most of the presentation and, trust us, you will want one.
Even supermodel Christy Turlington —an early adopter who was allowed to test it out while running a half-marathon— loves hers.
Endless column inches are being written at this very moment, so we won't bore you with the technical details. For that, we suggest checking the dedicated sites like AppleInsider, but here is some of the basic information you will want to know:
- The watch will be available to examine in person at Apple Stores on April 10th, which is just about one month away. Pre-ordering online will begin on that date.
- It will ship on April 24. Expect it to sell out immediately, and look for lines comparable to the worst iPhone lines. Will we be seeing packs of shady cash only smugglers bogarting product? Almost definitely.
- There are two sizes in each of the basic styles with a price difference of $50 depending on the size. Apple Watch Sport in high-tech aluminum comes in 10 models starting at $349 for the 38mm and $399 for the 42mm. The stainless steel Apple Watch comes in 20 different models starting at $549 - $599 for the fluoroelastomer sport band model and going up to $1,049 - $1,099 for the Space Black case with matching steel link bracelet. Faces can be downloaded and changed at whim, and bands for the steel models are interchangeable, but additional ones must be purchased separately.
- The 18K gold Apple Watch Edition (pictured above) comes in 8 models starting at $10,000.
Tim Cook only specified that it would be available at "select" retailers, which suggests a very limited exclusive or semi-exclusive distribution befitting watches in that price category. Rumors have Nordstrom in negotiations to carry it, and we suspect that Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf's, Barneys and Saks have been targeted as well as a few major jewelers. Expect an announcement closer to the launch date, probably not before the end of March regarding exactly who will carry it.
So there's the basic when-where-and-how-muchinformation we have right now. If you were wondering if it would be appealing, then rest assured that it is. You will be able to talk on the phone with it like Dick Tracy! Not to mention all the other kinds of features and uses it will have.
Will you want to give up a beautiful vintage Rolex or an elegant Cartier watch to wear it? Well, that's a different question. It may lose its luxury cachet if as many people who carry iPhones are also wearing Apple Watches, even with the customizable face displays. How it will affect the analog timepiece industry remains to be seen, but it's hard not to imagine at least a temporary dent in business for traditional watchmakers.
Anyway, what we do know is that there will be frenzy at the apple store on April 24th. Brace yourselves early adopters. It's going to be along wait in line.