Upper West Siders have been anticipating the opening of New York City's first Bloomingdale's The Outlet Store, and the retailer's website confirms that the store will open its doors one week from this Saturday, November 21st. The Shophound peeked through that door a few days ago (pictured below) to discover that the store is currently in "finishing touches" mode sprucing up the former Urban Outfitters location which should quickly turn into "stocking the shelves" mode if all activity is on schedule. Passersby can now gauge progress through the diamond-shaped peepholes on the windows pictured above. Like its presumed competitor, Nordstrom Rack, the Bloomingdale's Outlet is expected to carry a smattering of merchandise culled from full-line store clearance, with a stronger focus on off-price goods from similar vendors to those one would find at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. As the neighborhood has lost two major off-pricers, Lehmann's and SYMS/Filene's Basement, in recent years, it will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Though it's the first to open within New York City, the store will be the fifteenth Outlet store in the Bloomingdale's chain, and given the current dominant business model of full-priced department store chains bolstered with a generous fleet of outlets, it wouldn't be unrealistic to expect to see more of them sooner rather than later. So far, we haven't heard about any opening day promotions yet, but we will be keeping our ears out for them and posting accordingly. In the meantime, let the countdown begin.
Here's a late afternoon surprise that should delight West Siders who miss trolling for bargains at Filene's Basement.
Bloomingdale's is opening its first, much rumored off-price outlet store in New York City at the corner of Broadway and 72nd Street in the space that has housed Urban Outfitters for the past 15 years or so. The Observer reports that the popular East Side department store will take over the space in July when Urban Outfitters' lease runs out, and they predict an opening in time the Holiday Season which suggests that renovations will probably not be too extensive, though, we don't really know what the store is going to look like yet.
With a 3-level DSW at 79th Street and the space once occupied by Loehmann's still empty, the Bloomingdale's move signals that the West 70s are still considered fertile ground for discounters of upscale goods despite the loss of significant players in the past few years. It also shows that luxury department stores are no longer wary of placing their outlet units near their exalted full-line flagships. Several years ago, a Bloomingdale's outlet would have been a likelier prospect for Woodbury Commons or Secaucus, but since Nordstrom Rack showed up in Union Square, and now that Saks Off 5th will be opening just a few blocks away from a glitzy upcoming new full-line Saks at Brookfield Place in the Financial District, the outlets are now, officially no longer a dirty little secret to be shielded from full-price customers.
What is to become of the longstanding Urban Outfitters remains to be seen. While there is a smaller unit further up Broadway near 99th Street, the popular chain will have no other West Side stores above 14th Street after July. Neither retailer has yet confirmed the moves, but if Urban Outfitters is looking to stay in the area, Loehmann's old digs in the Ansonia still appear to be available.
Bloomie’s Heading to UWS With New Discount Concept (Commercial Observer/NYO)
THE WINDOW WATCHER:
Barneys' Baz-Dazzled Holiday Promotion To Debut On Thursday
Unveiling Dates For Lord & Taylor,
Saks & Bergdorf's
Unveiling Dates For Lord & Taylor,
Saks & Bergdorf's
Thanksgiving is kinda late-ish this year, which seems to have given New York's retailers license to unveil their Holiday windows as early as possible. Walk past Manhattan's big stores this week and see all the windows conspicuously shrouded as the visual teams furiously work to get those lights and tinsel trees in place. Barneys' highly publicized promotion with film director Baz Luhrmann is set to be unveiled tomorrow, just as the weather is finally expected to cool down to something reasonably appropriate for the Holiday season (it is currently 61˚F outside as we type this).
Barneys has a lot riding on the Luhrmann collaboration. It's Holiday promotions have hit sour notes for the past three years running which is particularly embarrassing for a store whose hilarious Holiday windows were once the talk of the town and one of the store's signature elements. This time, under Luhrmann's direction, the store will be going big and reintroducing some glitter and whimsy back into its newly super-serious minimalistic store. The Madison Avenue storefront will be covered with an elaborate façade (rendering pictured above), and, beyond just having animated displays, Luhrmann, is wife and creative partner Catherine Martin and designer Zaldy have been creating elaborate costumes for live performers who will appear in the windows and on the store's balconies throughout the season. Shoppers can look forward to ice skaters in the windows and a dancer/contortionist called Elphresh who will appear in a glittering gold romper. Weekends will bring the Queens of Night and Light appearing hourly on the store's second floor balconies in voluminous ballgowns to serenade the Madison Avenue crowds and more. We are cautiously optimistic that, after forays into celebrity, cartoons, ostentatious hip-hop-tinged special items and pretentious artsy-fartsy-ness, the folks currently running Barneys may have finally found their way back to the kind of sensibility that originally endeared New Yorkers to Barneys in the first place. If this Holiday promotion resonates with customers, maybe they will re-evaluate that "Taste! Luxury! Humor!" slogan they were so quick to dismiss.
Anyway, Barneys isn't the only store throwing itself a party tomorrow. Lord & Taylor, which is undergoing its own ongoing rejuvenation program, will be lighting up its windows on Thursday as well.
Bergdorf Goodman will be unveiling its windows, currently the city's most acclaimed, on Monday the 17th. The UNICEF Snowflake over the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street will also be lit simultaneously, and 10% of the evening's proceeds will be donated to the U.S. fund for UNICEF.
Saks Fifth Avenue is conservatively holding its Holiday window reveal back until Monday November 24. With new ownership and management, the store is also looking to make a splash, so say goodbye to those illuminated dancing snowflakes on the façade that the store has presented in the past seasons. This year, Saks is promising The Rockettes themselves at the unveiling as well as a display from Fireworks by Grucci. The windows will pay tribute to the Roaring '20s and include brand new high-tech projections and lighting schemes. The launch will be live-streamed at Saks.com.
Bloomingdale's will be celebrating its windows on Monday as well with a live performance from Broadway star Idina Menzel at 5 PM on the Beacon Court of the Bloomberg Building across 59th Street along with the cast of the Off-Broadway show Illuminate.
Plan to leave work early.
At this time of year, we here at The Shophound HQ can get immersed in keeping up with the ever-expanding plethora of sample sales that are going on right about now —so much so that we sometimes forget that the best shopping in the city is still often found in its unparalleled luxury department stores. Instead of running from one dusty showroom and sale facility to another, you can often maximize your shopping efficiency in the city's legendary retailers, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman, who have all taken second reductions this week. Our friends at the Madison Avenue Spy, who always have one keen eye focused on mid- and uptown shopping and sales, have made a handy chart telling us who is on sale right now and by how much.
Leave it to them to boil things down to the three stores that really matter in terms of designer shopping. The above three are the ones who tend to mark a price tag and stick with it —to a point— and also have the widest assortment of desirable designer labels. Bergdorf Goodman is on its second markdown at 60% Off for men's and women's apparel which is typically the final one. Women's shoes and handbags are at 50% Off, which could go down further, but may not.
Barneys is at 60% off in pretty much every department except children's (Do we care about children's? Maybe you do). Don't look for further reductions or an extra percentage off. Do not wait for the Warehouse Sale. They are not happening anymore. Any leftover merchandise will be shifted to the Warehouse Sale online store where extra promotional reductions will happen periodically, but usually without notice. It's also worth noting that it is the 21st century, and Barneys is still marking its sale tickets with red ballpoint pens like a neighborhood mom and pop shop. This can leave room for human error in either your or their favor, so make sure you double check those ticket prices before buying.
Over at Saks, reductions range from 50% to 60% off which is OK, but its seasoned sale shoppers know that this is just an interim reduction until the big consolidation final sale next month. Price tags will not be marked further, but there will be a sizable opportunity to take a hefty extra percentage off those tags when the time comes, bringing savings down to 70% Off or more.
While Bloomingdale's (not listed above) does carry some serious designer brands on certain floors, discounts tend to vary from day to day and special event sales add and subtract additional discounts at random. They are always worth a look on holiday weekends (July 4th coming up) which tend to be extra promotional, but it's good to know at what rate competitors are on reduction before you invest.
So there you have it. If you are sick of trotting from Sample Sale to Sample Sale, don't forget about our department stores. They have great deals right now and also, not insignificantly, private dressing rooms, convenient rest rooms, shipping services and reasonable return policies.
Where You'll Find the Best Deals (Madison Avenue Spy)
It's a 21st Century problem to be sure.
You have so many tattoos that there is no room for even one more —at least not where anyone will be able to see it. There's a simple solution: Tattoo your shoes.
Tomorrow night, November 7th, Bloomingdale's and Eastland will be hosting tattoo artists Steve Boltz and Bert Krak of Smith Street Tattoo at the 59th street flagship's men's department to add a complimentary engraving of exclusive images to your new Eastland 1955 Collection shoe, boot or moc. The artists will customize purchases with a selection of designs created for the event that reflect their unique style, like the anchor design on the classic Vibram-soled handsewn boot pictured above. Maine brewery Shipyard from Eastland's home state will be providing beer along with Don Q Cristal Rum, but remember, it's never a good idea to get a tattoo when you are drunk, or, at least not when you are really drunk.
Boltz and Krak will be there from 6 to 8 PM with DJ Franco V who will be spinning whatever music is appropriate to accompany tattooing.
Eastland (Official Site)
If you look at out SALE ROLL sidebar to the left, you will notice that this week's Sample Sale schedule is light, or more like nonexistent. It's probably the Fourth Of July holiday in the middle of the week that has put everything off, but if you absolutely must continue shopping, this would be a good week to hit the department stores for final markdowns. Barney's and Bergdorf Goodman's tags have hit 60% off the original retail prices. Saks Fifth Avenue is expected to offer an extra discount on sale merchandise on the Fourth, which could bring savings up to 70% off or more, and Bloomingdale's can be reliably expected to do the same on any given holiday. So even if you are averse to the vastness of department stores, this week would be the one to check them out.
THE WINDOW WATCHER:
Rag & Bone Wins Gay Pride
On Bleecker Street
Bob Mackie Disappointed With Bloomingdale's
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.
Like any major department store, Bloomingdale's is a continually evolving work-in-progress, and over the past few seasons, the store has added an abundance of luxury megabrands to its main floor that hasn't been seen at 59th & Lexington since the store's fabled heyday in the 1970s and 80s. How did it happen? To a certain extent, Bloomingdale's is becoming less of a retailer and more of a landlord.
The most recent addition to the flagship's string of accessory boutiques are two Gucci boutiques, one for women (pictured above), and one for men, and men's counterparts to the recently opened Prada and longtime Louis Vuitton shops on the Lexington Avenue Arcade section. In fact, the store has just finished replicating a men's version of the Arcade concept along the Third Avenue wall of the main floor including Prada, Gucci, and LV (pictured below) along with smaller spaces for Ferragamo, Turnbull & Asser, Thomas Pink and Paul Smith. Why did Bloomingdale's have to lease out these shops? Probably because they wouldn't have been allowed to carry the labels any other way.
How this happened is a story about how luxury brands are changing their way of dealing with American retailers and what it means for New York's shopping scene. Readers may remember a few seasons ago when Barneys made a surprise announcement that it was dropping Prada's women's apparel and accessory lines from all of its stores. Barneys had been a Prada supporter since long before it had been a household word, and was believed to have a strong business with the brand. However, Prada management was insisting that if the store wanted to continue carrying women's clothes and accessories (shoes and men's collections were not included in the deal) that it would have to turn over space to the brand so it could run its own boutiques under Barney's roof. Barneys claimed that this was against its policies, and let the lines go. For Prada, and other companies like it, this reflected a common practice in Europe that they were anxious to roll out to North America. Department stores in major overseas cities are often almost entirely made up of independent designer shops cobbled together under one roof, but for a store like Barneys which, changes in management notwithstanding, has always prided itself on the taste and curatorial authority of its fashion office and merchandising staff, having a vendor control what is sold in its store was out of the question, so a big chunk of Prada business went out the door. At around the same time, a brand new Prada accessory shop appeared in the North-West corner of the main floor at Bloomingdale's, which has never carried it, and is still working to burnish its luxury image after a damaging trading down during the recession of the 1990's. The existing Prada department at Saks Fifth Avenue also appeared taken over by its vendor at around the same time. We wouldn't be surprised to see a leased Prada apparel shop appear in Saks any day now. They already have one for Vuitton.
Such arrangements are not unprecedented. In the late 1990's Louis Vuitton notified its retail partners that it was closing its wholesale business entirely, and converting to a fully leased shop-in-shop program, and any store that wanted to continue selling it would have to comply. Most of them did, and the Vuitton shops in Bloomingdale's, Saks and Macy's all became leased departments which have been dramatically expanded in the time since. Gucci has quietly engineered a similar exertion of control. The new Bloomingdale's shops as well as a large one upcoming in Macy's are all leases, and the brand has recently taken over existing men's and women's apparel and accessories shops at Saks Fifth Avenue. Only shoes are left to the store's own buyers. As these mega-brands -all of whom have gained dramatically in prestige over the past two decades- get bigger they are increasingly turning to the stores who helped built their success and taking that business back. What it means is that stores that wish to continue selling the labels are forced to give up some of their merchandising control (Bloomingdale's, Saks) or drop the lines (Barneys). So far the one store untouched by all this struggle for control appears to be Bergdorf Goodman, which has had several Gucci departments for years, and in the past few seasons, has repaired a relationship with Prada that was bitterly broken about 15 years ago leading to a decade-long banishment of the brand. Bergdorf's shares Barneys' policy against leasing space in their main product categories in part because both stores encourage cross selling by staff throughout the store that leasing can make difficult and confusing. One wonders if Gucci and Prada will be similarly turned out of Bergdorf's in the coming seasons, or if the brands will let it stand as a single store exception. What we may see going forward is a power shift from the client to the vendor, where luxury mega-brands choose to bestow their cachet on stores that meet their terms. They are already pretty demanding as it is. Brands like Chanel and Giorgio Armani have long lists of requirements for for stores who sell their products as authorized resellers, but leasing is another level of control. Eventually we might see a contest of prestige between the big designer labels and the stores who wish to carry them.
You might not know who Marvin Traub was, but if you think of shopping as a glamorous entertainment pursuit as opposed to just picking up some underwear and a lipstick, you probably have him to thank. Traub pased away on Wednesday from bladder cancer. He is best known for his 41-year tenure at Bloomingdale's, where he eventually became Chairman. By the 1970s, as many New Yorkers will remember, the store had achieved a cultural significance well beyond the confines of 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. By that time, the opening of a Bloomingdale's branch store could cause traffic jams and overflowing mall parking lots —something a young Shophound remembers vividly. The store became famous not only for the lavish international country promotions that took over the chain every Fall, but also for what now seem like extravagances at even the most luxurious stores, like increasingly glamorous store openings, inventive, cutting-edge model rooms in the furniture department, an extensive gourmet food department, and a constantly changing lineup of shopping bag designs. If you have an old Michaele Vollbracht designed Bloomingdale's bag hiding in a closet somewhere, consider yourself the owner of a collector's item. Traub was instumental in promoting young designers like Vollbracht when he turned to fashion design as well as Norma Kamali, Perry Ellis and most prominently Ralph Lauren, whose various labels still probably command more square feet at Bloomingdale's than any other designer's. Traub also made the humble "Big Brown Bag" an enduring store signature and turned the store's nickname "Bloomie's" into a brand that was stamped on t-shirts, mugs, panties, jeans and any other surface that could take the ink. In short, he made sure that the store lived up to its tagline, "like no other store in the world."
An unfortunate sequence of mergers and takeovers during the 1980s combined with a weak economy and a failed attempt by Traub to buy the chain himself forced Traub's retirement from Bloomingdale's in 1991, ended his glitzy promotions and left store's shopping bags big and brown, only. Designer departments were jettisoned from most of its branch stores, and the most exclusive labels decamped for more opulent outlets as Bloomingdale's was repositioned somewhere between Saks and Macy's in the luxury continuum. Without Traub's inspired direction, New York's sophisticated shoppers more often spoke of Bloomingdale's followed by phrases like, "Oh, I never shop there anymore." Though the store has since rebounded and re-upgraded to a certain extent, the theatrical extravagance of its heyday now seem like a budget-busting myth to more sober-minded management. Traub went on to form a succesful consulting firm where he worked up until a month before his death. More than two decades after exiting Bloomingdale's, Traub's influence is still felt in the industry, so if you love stores and shopping, he was one of the people who deserve your appreciation.
Is it possible to launch a label for a designer who has been dead for over a decade?
George Carr and Edward Jones III are about to find out when they debut the CARR label this fall. The brand is named for designer Zack Carr, who briefly had his own label in the 1980s but was best known as Calvin Klein's longtime Creative Director. He also happened to be George Carr's brother and died from a rare blood cancer in 2000. Well known and liked by fashion insiders, Zack Carr never achieved the kind of immense fame that could help promote a new label, but the new brand's founders are betting on the quality of vast archives of sketches that the designer left to creatively fuel the new collections. Jones tells WWD, “I think there’s an authenticity of design coming from Zack that is the foundation, which is really important, but we don’t have to live on that.” Carr's naturally clean-lined style should lend itself to a timeless point of view, and a design staff will adapt the thousands of sketches for modern modern sensibilities. And major retailers are already on board with the effort, too. Bloomingdale's and and Saks Fifth Avenue will be exclusively carrying the women's and men's collections respectively through Fall 2013.
Priced solidly in the Designer price range, there may also be a secret customer in wait for the launch: former, faithful Calvin Klein Collection customers who haven't been as charmed as the press has by Francisco Costa's take on the label since its namesake stepped away about a decade ago (The Collection component of the brand has diminished commercially since Klein retired). Who would have guessed that their solution would come from beyond?
George Carr Launching New Brand for Fall By Marc Karimzadeh (WWD)