Jean-Michel Cazabat's Bleecker Street Boutique Turns To ASH
+ More Turnover Nearby

If large parts of Manhattan are suffering from too much available retail real estate, than there are still a few other streets where stores do not sit empty for too long. Bleecker Street between Christopher and Bank Streets in the West Village has been one of them, but even there, a few stores are out of commission or undergoing transition. The theory on this street has recently been that any time a retail space becomes available, Marc Jacobs will swoop in and take it over, but even he may have maxed out on the West Village as his company turns its eye to larger stores in other Manhattan neighborhoods. There are some spaces coming up that Marc may not be as quick to absorb. For starters, the glamorous Jean-Michel Cazabat shoe boutique is now an ASH shoes sale pop-up store.
Is Cazabat out of business?
You can still buy his shoes at Barneys and other stores, but you may notice that his prices have jumped. The designer has moved his production back to Italy from China, which also pushed him back into the luxury category, precipitating a split from his backers who also own the Ash brand and have smoothly moved it into the Bleecker Street space —for the moment, at least.

Corporate changes have had an effect on several other Bleecker Street stores as well. Kurt Geiger's management has bought the company out from parent Jones Group which is currently being dismantled piece by piece, so that shoe store has remained in place. Juicy Couture, however, has been sold and and has exited its sizable store (pictured below) which remains under the control of former parent Kate Spade & Co. (formerly Fifth & Pacific, formerly Liz Claiborne & Co.). Will Kate move in? It seems like too good of a space to pass up, but for now, the sign in the window says the empty store is available. A few blocks away, brother shop Jack Spade is covered in green painted plywood, but its website lists it as temporarily under renovation, so we expect it to return soon enough.

Sadly, one well liked store seems to be gone from Bleecker for good. Freeman's Sporting Club appears to have exited its store at no. 343. Though it is still listed on the website, the shop is empty and available. FSC had a challenging time in the West Village. It's first location on the corner of Bleecker and Christopher streets had to be moved with little notice shortly after opening when the building was declared structurally unsafe —always a bummer. Happily, the store was able to swiftly move half a block to 343 where a temporary store eventually became a permanent outpost. That space, however, is now empty and available. East of Christopher Street, there are more vacancies including the former J.A.C.H.S. boutique*J.Press York Street sells a label which is reportedly being discontinued by the uber-traditional menswear retailer. Will J.Press fill it with a selection from its classic assortments this Fall? As its flagship is still under an extended renovation, it would give its loyal New York customers a local place to shop the brand albeit in an inconvenient location, though it's more likely that the space will be marketed to other retailers. How long some of these spaces take to be filled will say a lot about Bleecker Street's status to retailers in the coming months. If the are leased quickly, then the stretch remains near the top of Manhattan's most desirable shopping locations, but if we start to see the kind of vacancies that are plaguing the Upper East Side and the nearby Meatpacking District, then Bleecker's heyday may be coming to an end. Have a look as some of these storefronts in the gallery below.
*Correction: The J.A.C.H.S. Store is not in fact closed and is open for business. We mistook it for different empty store on the same block.

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New York Paradox: The Post Addresses New York's Empty Store Problem


Is Calvin Klein Taking Over Bleecker Street's Manatus Restaurant?

The last place to get a full, well priced meal on the designer stretch of Bleecker Street bewteen Christopher and Hudson Streets closed last night amid rumors that a Calvin Klein boutique was coming in to take over the space. Not too many West Villagers sound pleased to say goodbye to the Manatus, a three-decade or so fixture just off Christopher that has reportedly been the kind of friendly (and affordable), neighborhood Greek diner that seems to exist only on TV shows anymore. The restaurant's demise was forewarned nearly a year ago by Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, which followed up over the weekend with the news that its rent would have been hiked up to $50,000 per month if it had stayed. Calvin Klein rumor also stems from the blog, and it makes a certain amount of sense that a designer label which would require a certain amount of room would jump on one of the rare large scale spaces on Bleecker to become available. As a remnant of Bleecker Street's only slightly humbler past, Manatus was something of an outlier among the fashion and beauty stores, but that's not to say that designer shoppers don't need a place to sit and have a nice club sandwich.

Now to Calvin. If the brand is indeed interested in (or even already in control of) the space, one presumes that it would be to open a new Collection boutique, which would be only other one in America besides the flagship Madison Avenue store. Francisco Costa's designs for the premium label have thrilled critics and red carpet denizens in the years since he took over for Calvin himself. Unfortunately, Costa's different design point of view, changes in production arrangements and the introduction of the mid-range department store Calvin Klein label have decimated the brand's high-end women's business over the years. New management at the brand and at parent company PVH has vowed to reverse this state of affairs and refocus some corporate attention on its top label. A brand new boutique in a hip location could go a long way to burnishing Calvin's status among customers. Keep an eye out for some signage on Bleecker Street to let us know more, and keep walking toward Seventh Avenue if you are getting hungry.

Manatus: Vanishing (Vanishing New York)


Annick Goutal To Displace
Nothing On Bleecker Street

An exclusive French fragrance brand is coming to Bleecker Street, and, in a rare state of affairs, it isn't kicking out another store to do it. Annick Goutal, is opening a store in a 900 square-foot space at 397 Bleecker right next to Bond No.9 that hasn't housed a retail store since the early 20th Century. Up until now, it has been one of a few residential townhouse spaces that have broken up the string of shops on Bleecker. The skyrocketing value of retail real estate on that precious section of Bleecker Street has sparked a conversion of some of those ground floors with more likely to follow. About half of the townhouses there between 11th and Perry Streets have no retail space making a substantial shop-free stretch on the eastern side of the block —but perhaps not for long. You can compare the before (below) and after (above) views and see that the old-fashioned storefront for the shop is actually brand new construction, and it is likely that we will see more similar conversions in neighboring buildings as apartment leases come up for renewal.

AnnickGoutalInviteBack to the new store that is being finished, it is reported to be Annick Goutal's first in the United States. Until now the brand (now owned by Amore Pacific) has been available through luxury stores like Barneys and Bergdorf's (though we vaguely remember a Madison Avenue shop sometime in the 1990s). Copyright lawyers will remember the label for beating a lawsuit from Elizabeth Taylor over the "Passion" trademark in a conflict that ended up legally delineating the difference between the "luxury" retailers who sold Goutal and the mass market chains that would be selling Taylor's brand. Old copyright issuse aside, Annick Goutal will be joining Nars, Diptyque, M.A.C., Jo Malone, Marc Jacobs Cosmetics and the aforementioned Bond No.9 in creating an increasing presence for fragrance and beauty on this particular, ever-evolving West Village strip. The store is expected to open in the Spring and is promising special Grand Opening invitations for those who log on to the Annick Goutal website or scan the QR code on the store's front door (pictured at left)

Annick Goutal (Official Site)


Robert Graham To Bring Bright, Fancy Shirts And More To Bleecker Street

One particular store on Bleecker Street is about to get a lot louder.
Robert Graham, the men's designer label started twelve years ago with some very colorful shirts is coming to Bleecker Street sometime during this Holiday season. Coincidentally, the brand will be taking over the whitewashed storefront at 380 Bleecker that, for many years housed various shops run by founder Robert Stock's former business associate Ralph Lauren. After years designing under his own name, Stock created Robert Graham as an antidote for boring, bland menswear, and his colorful shirts, which often combine two or three or more different patterns in a single garment (see example below), have proved to be very successful in upscale department stores without particularly impressing the more rarefied Men's fashion press or editors. It's not an unusual or necessarily unfavorably place for a brand to be. It's where you will find Coogi sweaters and anything from Jhane Barnes. Some of the limited edition Robert Graham shirt styles go for nealy $600, and they are all very patterned and colorful —usually at the same time.

This appears to be the brand's 11th store. Now that it has grown to include a full sportswear collection as well as womenswear, it remains to be seen how much of it a typically diminutive Bleecker Street shop can feasibly hold and still have room for customers. We will have to wait until sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas to see exactly how Robert Graham will fit in on the trendy street.

Robert Graham (Official Site)


Beauty Baby Edition

Critical-9-5It's been a whole month since we last heard from a Critical Shopper in the Thursday Styles, so it looks like Alexandra Jacobs is making up for lost time by cramming two reviews into one column. Call it a Fashion Week special. She starts off at the new Marc Jacobs Beauty store on Bleecker Street, which is also the old Marc Jacobs Accessories store. Her main complaint is that the designer's brand new makeup collection seems to have a disturbingly juvenile preoccupation, suggesting that in trying to make a youthful, cool cosmetics line, he has come up with product names that sound like they are made for children. In fact, the customers she happens to come across are still in braces, so she may not be at all off-base. Most notably, however, we are pretty sure —no, we are positive— that when she describes the new line as "cannily of the moment in its transgender marketing" she really means to say "pan-gender marketing" which would refer to the fact that certain products, including lip balm and concealer, are designed to be used by men and women. Of course, transgender marketing does make it sound more daring, but that would mean the line is pitched to an extremely specific segment of the cosmetics market consisting of girls who were once boys and vice versa. Though certainly worthy of attention and respect, we are not totally sure that this is a large enough group to ensure the kind of sales volume and profits that Marc Jacobs and his backer LVMH have in mind.

That's not all. Our shopper also swung by celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe's DreamDry blowout bar where for $30 plus tip she got a pouf-y Veronica Lake inspired do that "drew some perplexed stares walking on Avenue of the Americas". Whether that's a plus or a minus depends, we suppose, on how one feels about Sixth Avenue.

Critical Shopper: Beauty in the Eye of the Dreamer By Alexandra Jacobs
Marc Jacobs Beauty 385 Bleecker Street at Perry Street, West Village
DreamDry 35 West 21st Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Flatiron District


Face Values Breaks Out For Its First NYC Store In Chelsea

Everybody knows that the best priced non-prescription drugstore around is the Harmon Face Values section inside Bed Bath & Beyond stores —the only drawback being the necessity to brave the often chaotic stores where they are placed in order to shop there. Well, that will no longer be a problem at least for Chelsea shoppers now that the city's first stand-alone Face Values store has just opened on Sixth Avenue's big-box boulevard. You may want to go out of our way for this one as it expands on the already fully packed shop-in-shops we are familiar with and broadens the selections even further while maintaining its super-competitive pricing —and that's before you factor in the inevitable coupons. If the concept expands throughout the city, it could easily force the neighborhood go-tos like Walgreens, CVS and even the most lavishly revamped Duane Reades to adjust their prices. All of the usual staples are there in abundance along with a few extras that you won't find in the Bed Bath & Beyond stores like more color cosmetics and a food section that includes upgraded gourmet brands you won't see at Duane Reade like Talenti Gelato and Steve's Ice Cream (hey, it's August. don't blame us for being immediately attracted to the freezer cases). We managed to catch the store on its opening day, which was clear from the clusters of nervously smiling executives dotted throughout the place, but they shouldn't have much to worry about. We are pretty sure that it will be packed once shoppers get wind of it, and we would be happy to suggest a few more locations right near The Shophound HQ when they are ready to roll it out to the rest of the city.

Harmon Face Values 675 Sixth Avenue at 22nd Street, Chelsea


Marc Jacobs Makes A Switch On Bleecker Street For His New Beauty Line

It's been a while since Marc Jacobs has upset the arrangement of his Cluster of West Village shops, but passersby may have noticed that what was until recently his Collection Accessories store at 385 Bleecker Street is in the process of being transformed into the first store for his upcoming Beauty line. It's not unusual for the designer to shuffle around the contents of his five fashion boutiques in the neighborhood as needed, but they have been reasonably settled in recent seasons. That will change with the launch of his signature cosmetics line coming on Friday. Though it will initially be exclusive to Sephora stores, select Marc jacobs stores will also carry the line including this about-to-be-transformed location. We're betting on an opening this weekend as the line launches.


Rag & Bone Wins Gay Pride
On Bleecker Street
Bob Mackie Disappointed With Bloomingdale's

Only a few years ago, the month of June brought a whole array of rainbows to the store windows of Bleecker Street's designer boutiques competing to celebrate Gay Pride in the neighborhood where it began 44 years ago. Lately, however, a changing roster of retailers has toned down the Pride window action. Ralph Lauren's simple but clever racks of rainbow of polo shirts are nowhere to be seen in his RRL Store windows, and even Marc Jacobs, normally the street's biggest cheerleader, has limited his displays to his teeny, tiny Men's store (pictured in the gallery below). Though it's not technically on Bleecker Street, one store has gone all out. Rag & Bone, around the corner on Christopher Street (arguably one of the city's most proudly gay thoroughfares) has festooned the windows of each shop in its string of West Village boutiques with bright 1980s style graffiti, giving Gay Pride decorations a refreshing Krush-Groove-Electric-Boogaloo flavor (pictured above and in the gallery below). Given this week's momentous Supreme Court rulings regarding gay marriage, it looks like Rag & Bone cleverly anticipated (possibly unintentionally) the excitement that would mount as Pride Weekend approaches, leaving the other store looking sadly blasé.

Uptown, Bloomingdale's gave a nod to Gay Pride with a display of The Stonewall Pride Collection, a group of celebrity gowns whose centerpiece is a pair of stage costumes designed by Bob Mackie for his "favorite straight female drag queen", Cher, of course (pictured below). The designer himself was a little underwhelmed by the other dresses in the line which included, among others, an Adidas-style gown made for Jane Lynch to wear on Glee, and a dress made by Chris March for Meryl Streep to wear to the Oscars (sadly looking a little the worse for wear). "I wanted the show to be more. If they’re going to do it, they should do it big," he told WWD, “Even if they only had people who design for drag queens, it would have been pretty fabulous.”Still, it's always worth going out of one's way to get a look up close at any of Cher's Mackie gowns because there is really nothing else like them and, you know, Cher. The Stonewall Pride Collection will be on display on Bloomingdale's third floor through this weekend.

Bob Mackie Underwhelmed With Stonewall Pride Collection (WWD)

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Under-Prepped Edition

18zCRITICAL1-articleLargeThis week's Critical Shopper column sends Jon Caramanica down to Bleecker Street for his response to the new J.Press York Street boutique where he is essentially underwhelmed. His main concern is that the venerable retailer's new, younger line, should —according to our shopper— emphasize and amplify the most eccentric and daring aspects of the Preppy style it has represented for decades, but it doesn't exactly.

...none of the vibrant, lightning-bright color choices; none of the eyebrow-raising patterns; none of the insouciance of a wearer who directly correlates income level with risk-taking. Prep never apologized. Just ask all the less-privileged people underfoot.

Of course, whether or not the line's creative directors, Shimon and Ariel Ovadia, of the up and coming label Ovadia & Sons, share that point of view remains in question. They seem more concerned with remaking the classic J.Press look in trimmer cuts and more casual fabrics to maximize its commercial appeal to a younger, hipper customer, and to stores like Bloomingdale's which is also selling the line. It's not like there aren't enough designers already deconstructing the prepster. After all, the Gant Rugger shop is only a block or two up the street from J. Press York Street, along with Brooks Brothers' Black Fleece boutique. Still, our shopper does not leave the store empty handed. A blazing red barracuda jacket has caught his eye, amongst the copious Yale memorabilia, but that's really more of a James Dean look —not to be confused with preppy at all.

J.Press York Street 304 Bleecker Street between Grove & Barrow Streets, West Village
Critical Shopper: Preppy Gets a Tweak By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Today In Brand Estensions: J. Press Brings York Street To Bleecker Street


Club Monaco Puts A Beach Shop In Bleecker Street's Rugby Store

When Ralph Lauren shut down his Rugby chain, we had to wonder what would happen to the valuable real estate it left empty. Last month we discovered that the University Place flagship would be converted to the designer's popular Denim & Supply brand, and today, our friends at Racked tell us that Club Monaco has been installed in the remaining Bleecker Street location (originally a RRL store), at least for the Summer.

Club Monaco, you may recall, is in fact owned by Ralph Lauren, so even though the designer's name is no longer on the shop, it still remains in the family. Along with a selection of beachy white basics from the chain's own assortments, the store offers denim for 7 For All Mankind, Swimwear from Vix and Toschi and, of course, Havaianas flip flops. The space has been stripped of its signature Lauren clutter in favor of clean, white paneling and pipe racks and a big pile of sand fills the window just in case you didn't immediately get the beach theme. Reportedly, the shop will remain through June, after which the folks at Ralph Lauren Retail will have to figure out exactly what they want to put in there permanently. Given their family options, they could do worse than a revolving series of seasonal Club Monaco pop-up shops.

Club Monaco Opens a Beachy Sundress Shop in the West Village (Racked)