Once a pervasive presence in Manhattan, the Pottery Barn chain has lost some prominent stores over the years in the city, and is now down to two locations in the city while its sibling chains, Williams-Sonoma and West Elm have held their own or grown stronger. That's about to change, as the company has inked a deal to open a major store at 11 West 19th Street in the heart of the Flatiron District as reported by multiple sources. The 20,000 square foot space is currently occupied by Lillian August (pictured above) which has been looking to get out of its lease there, and will surrender the space to make way for the deal. Like the West Elm in Chelsea that sits between Sixth and Seventh Avenues and opens out to both 17th and 18th streets, the new Pottery Barn will have entrances on both 19th and 20th streets. While missing the desirable Fifth Avenue frontage of other chains in the neighborhood, the new store will be right across the street from Muji as well as bakery hotspot Dough. It is in the middle of a home furnishings enclave popular with downtowners, and should still be a potent destination for shoppers. It's still too early to expect a firm opening date, but sometime next year should be a safe bet. In the meantime, shoppers can now check out West Elm's new luxury "Collection" store that has recently opened at 123 West 17th Street right next to its main label mothership.
For the fifth year running and celebrating the program's 10th season GAP and GQ have collaborated on capsule collections from the magazine's picks for the Best New Menswear Designers in America. This time, as was announced earlier this year, it's an all-star team featuring returning MVPs Steven Alan, Saturday's NYC, John Elliott and, a three time winner, Michael Bastian (all pictured above). The collections appeared in store today and on Gap.com and, as in past seasons, offer some classic, signature looks from each designer including double layered tees, stretchy ripped jeans and a well-priced moto jacket from Elliott, tailored shirts, khakis and slim tweed coat from Alan, graphic sportswear from Saturdays and typically eclectic separates from Bastian. You'll find them in Manhattan's more prominent Gap locations including Fifth Avenue in both Midtown and the Flatiron District, The Upper West Side, Greenwich Village, Herald and Times Squares to name a few. As always, eager shoppers should act fast. Elliott's collection sold out almost to the piece within a day in 2014, and though Gap's merchandisers have ordered accordingly, popular pieces are already running low, like his double layered tees. Another caveat is that while prices have generally been somewhat higher than regular Gap fare, this season, they are a bit higher than they have been, but still substantially less expensive than any of these designers' regular lines. Online shopping is also a great option but note that the lines are not included in Gap.com's myriad price promotions, at least not initially, so sometimes it pays to wait, but if you have been waiting months for these collections to hit, you should act now.
With new iPhones and Apple Watches on the way comes the news that Macy's will open Apple's first full in-store shop at its Herald Square flagship next month. While 180 additional Macy's locations will be selling Apple Watches, this will be the tech behemoth's first in-store shop inside a U.S. Department store, and it will also carry iPhones, iPads MacBooks as well as other items and accessories for a more complete brand presentation. According to WWD, the shop will be set up on the main floor of the store's Broadway side which is devoted to makeup and accessories including in-store boutiques from Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Burberry. While Macy's Herald Square is known to have several leased in-store departments like Vuitton and Gucci, it is unclear at the moment whether the new shop will be operated by Apple or Macy's itself, but it could serve as a test for similar arrangements in other prominent flagship locations in the chain such as Chicago or San Francisco, or perhaps as a model to be adopted by other retailers as well. In recent months, Macy's has been struggling to right-size its sprawling fleet of stores cobbled together from several different department store chains as the result of a series of mergers over the past couple of decades. The luster from Apple's desirable product offerings may help the chain to attract new customers as it tightens up its retail footprint.
Another rumor is making the rounds as the summer's dog days approach, and this time it's former Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz who is said to be in talks with Japanese chain Uniqlo for an unspecified collaboration.
If there is any designer among the slate of those currently benched that everyone wants to see back in action, it's Elbaz, but what, if anything, does he have in mind for Uniqlo? It wouldn't be the first time he has allied with a big chain, as he is a veteran of a Lanvin collaboration with H&M from a few years back. Both parties are predictably mum on the subject, and it may be a while before we hear any kind of official news about it due to the inevitable non-compete clauses and the fact that Elbaz has not completely settled his separation from Lanvin.The disposition of his equity stake in the company is yet to be determined. In the meantime, however we can just imagine how Elbaz could lend his unique sense of style to Uniqlo's famously utilitarian wares. It's not likely that we will see the mega-chain venturing into evening and cocktail dresses, but maybe we will see some cashmere sweaters with a little extra flair? Possibly there will be some tricked out denim separates to follow up the Lanvin/Acme collab of sessions past? Even some well designed t-shirts wouldn't be outside his wheelhouse, so the possibilities are promising. Stay tuned.
Keith McNally may be enjoying some schadenfreude right about now.
It turns out that the Restoration Hardware store that ejected McNally's popular restaurant Pastis from its very successful Ninth Avenue home is running into some legal problems of its own. We aren't talking about the initial contractor whose principals are awaiting trial regarding the death of a 22-year old worker in the construction site's excavation pit last year. The current problem that the store faces is that it is nearly six times the size of any retail store that the site is zoned for, and the Department of Buildings has not yet issued an exemption.
According to the D.O.B., the maximum size of a retail store for the building being gut renovated and expanded at 9-19th Ninth Avenue is 10,000 square-feet. The store planned for the site is 58,659-square-feet, which is somewhat larger to say the least. DNAinfo reports that the developers of the site were informed in early March of this year that their permits would be revoked for failure to comply with city code. In addition, the nature of the business was misrepresented as an "interior decorating establishment" which, oddly enough, would only be allowed to take up a mere 750 square-feet in such a structure according to current zoning laws. Construction has not been halted, because the developer immediately engaged the D.O.B. to resolve the dispute, but it has been over four months since the notification without resolution. If discussions fall through, the construction will be immediately halted not because the building is not up to code, but because its intended use is.
Since the talks are apparently continuing, its a good bet that the store will eventually open as planned, but possibly with some concessions that are yet to remade clear. It has been known for quite some time that the store intended for the site was meant to be extremely large, but it is not yet a done deal. At the moment, it's not out of the question that Restoration hardware may either have to settle for a smaller store sharing the building with other retailers or pull out entirely and find a suitable site to build the flagship it had intended.
Yes, we know the picture says Last 4 Days, but it was taken yesterday at the Scoop NYC in Brookfield Place which was looking more than a little depleted at the time. That leaves Today, Tomorrow and Sunday to say goodbye to a once beloved chain of contemporary boutiques the chain's most recently opened location. While nostalgia is in order, we have all had weeks to come to terms with Scoop's demise. The thing to do right now is what shopper do best, and that is to pick over its carcass like vultures looking for the best bargain. And it'll be tough, because there's not much left. Yesterday, the chain lowered final discounts to 50% to 70% off the lowest marked prices (which, as far as we could tell were only full prices), and a visit to the FiDi and Meatpacking locations showed some pretty picked over offerings, though, depending on your size, you might find a gem or two. Anyway, it's worth a stop by if you are in the neighborhood perhaps for a cheap t-shirt or maybe a couple of souvenir mannequins.
It turns out that the Brookfield Place store is the only one closing this weekend. The last two stores on Washington Street in the Meatpacking District and on Third Avenue on the Upper East Side are still slated to remain open for another month through the second week in July. Presumably, consolidations from other already closed stores in the chain will be funneled to them, so it's worth checking back, and it looks like there will be time for at least another round of markdowns before the chain's final swan song.
There's good news today for those of us Uniqlo fans who were disappointed that the recent Uniqlo and Lemaire collaboration did not become an ongoing collaboration for the Japanese based mega-chain. Designer Christophe Lemaire has joined Uniqlo on a permanent basis and will spearhead a new label called Uniqlo U (see the logo below) as the design director of a new Paris-based research and development center for the retailer. The new line will have a debut during Paris Couture week next month in advance of hitting all Uniqlo stores this fall. Lemaire (pictured above with his new team) will also continue with his own collection of luxury apparel, but his co-designer and romantic partner, Sara-Linh Tran who had joined him the previous collaboration with will not be joining him at Uniqlo, and will focus solely on the Lemaire label.
When the Uniqlo and Lemaire collection collection sold out almost instantly at its launch last year, it was a good bet that collaboration would be a worthy replacement for the +J collection which was created by the designer Jil Sander for the chain to great success, but instead, we were told that it would end after the second installment, remnants of which are still available in Uniqlo stores. Rather than parting ways, it turned out that the designer and the chain had bigger things in mind. The new label will be more wide ranging than the limited collaboration line (hopefully with a fuller size range at the high end) and will have its own dedicated design staff. Comparing Uniqlo U to +J, Lemaire calls his new venture ". . . a little more democratic." He tells Business of Fashion, " The biggest issue was to design things that are essential enough to be timeless, and understood by everyone. Elevated basics, I call them. Our ambition is to fill the gap between what’s fashion and what’s ‘normal.’ I know the word ‘normcore’ is overused, but there’s something about normality I find very interesting — how do you make it super normal but refined and cool and desirable?"
While it turned out that +J was something for Sander to do between stints at the label that bore her own name, Uniqlo U is structured to exist as an integral part of the chain's assortment regardless of the status of Lemaire's increasingly popular eponymous collection. Instead of being doled out to select Uniqlo flagship stores, Uniqlo U is expected to be available in all of Uniqlo's stores —1,774 of them at last count. There will be between 500,000 and 1 million of each unit produced which will hopefully ensure that the best pieces won't sell out immediately as well as create some economy of scale that will help costs from spiraling too high. We will be keeping an eye out for the first collection's unveiling next month, but will also be relieved to know that when it hits stores in the fall, it is expected to stay there for a while.
Christophe Lemaire Joins Uniqlo (Business of Fashion)
As was widely rumored a few months ago, hyper-popular grocery chain Trader Joe's has been confirmed by DNAinfo to be opening a new branch in 12,000 square feet on the ground floor and lower level of 670 Columbus Avenue on the corner of 93rd Street, a new retail space that has been waiting for quite some time to be filled. This will be TJ's second Upper West Side location after a branch at 72nd and Broadway that, like all the other locations in the city (and perhaps, the world?) is perpetually plagued with long lines of customers snaking throughout the store. Hopefully, this new branch will help to alleviate that overcrowding, but not importantly, it is only a few blocks from Shophound HQ which means that we will no longer have to go on the subway when it's time to replenish our stock of 19¢ bananas and frozen packages of ready-to-stir-fry vegetables. (insert delirious cheering here)
The new store is expected to be open early next year, and its main competition will be a Whole Foods at 97th and Columbus. If other neighborhoods in the city are feeling neglected, there's hope for them as the chain continues to look for suitable space in New York. Another location is reported to be opening in a former Food Emporium space in Kips Bay this Summer, and more rumors point toward a possible second East 14th Street store to be located between Avenues A and B.
So far, the Upper East Side has not been tapped, though it is likely to be high on the chain's list of neighborhoods for potential locations. For now we will just be counting down the days until our own neighborhood location opens its doors.
Today's Thursday Styles has a look back at the rise and fall of the Scoop NYC boutique chain that is currently in the process of liquidating, and the most significant bit of information it reveals is that the chain will finally shutter its stores on the second week of July. That gives it about eight more weeks to get rid of its inventory which should mean escalating discounts through the sale period. It's not exactly the best time to be liquidating, since Scoop will be competing with the regular seasonal markdowns in all of the other stores that have the same merchandise, and it will have to go a bit deeper than the 20% off it has mostly been offering for the past couple of weeks in order to compete with regular old sales elsewhere.
Otherwise, the story told in the article by former insiders is much as we have heard. The once hot chain lost a bit of its mojo when co-founder Stefani Greenfield departed and the up and coming labels it helped to discover became less exclusive and opened their own boutiques —generally in competing locations— and became mainstays in the burgeoning contemporary departments of major retailers like Saks and Neiman Marcus. Instead of replacing those maturing labels with newer, hotter ones, the store chugged along as a comfortable if less essential stop the millennial shopping tour until skyrocketing rents and ill-advised leases did it in Now there are eight weeks left to how much Scoop can slash its prices enough to make us all come back to clear its racks and shelves.
Liquidations are an inherently bittersweet stage of a store closure, but we will try to keep shoppers updated on just how much of a discount is being offered.
The Last Days of Scoop By Marisa Meltzer (NYTimes)
Scoop NYC, the fast growing retail chain that rode the contemporary designer explosion of the turn of the 21st Century to great success is facing some new challenges. WWD reports that the chain has closed its 10,000 square foot flagship in SoHo (pictured above) and is mulling the future of other branches —possibly that of the entire chain.
The retailer's ailment is not sales, apparently, but its rapid expansion during a time when prime locations have been scarce and renting only at top dollar rates. Margins at scoop are said to be in excess of 46% of sales and over $1,000 per square foot, enviable business levels by anyone's standards, but they are being eaten away by rents that are too high and stores that are too big, hence the closure of the chains largest and possibly most expensive one.
Started just 20 years ago by Stefanie Greenfield and Uzi Ben-Abraham, Scoop helped pioneer the upper contemporary/ designer boutique chain by mixing prestige designer labels like Missoni, Margiela and Derek Lam with resurgent premium denim brands and more casual contemporary fare, and presenting merchandise by lifestyle rather than by label. The billed the store as "The Ultimate Closet", and their concept won acclaim and lots of customers. Eventually, menswear was added in the same manner, and though the results in that category wound up looking fairly middle-of-the-road in terms of fashion, commercially it was a hit, offering side-by-side shopping for couples. Similarly merchandised chains like Intermix and Barneys Co-op also thrived alongside Scoop in its heyday, But Barneys has discontinued the Co-op division and converted its locations to more upscale, small Barneys boutiques, while the broader expansion of Intermix is now backed by Gap Inc. Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. acquired Scoop in 2007, and is said to have ruled out a bankruptcy filing, though liquidation may not be off the table. The chain still has 15 stores left, mostly in New York City and Long Island, but also in key cities including Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas and Atlanta but only with single units. Its most recently opened store is in Brookfield Place in the financial district. It sounds like we should expect to see a few more Scoop store closures in the coming months, but hopefully, the chain isn't ready to give up the ghost just yet.
Or maybe it is.
Over the weekend, Scoop stores started running 10% Off storewide store closing sales in all remaining 15 locations with merchandise expected to hold out for 8 to 12 weeks. The aforementioned overhead costs have reportedly clobbered the chain out of viability, with with unrealistic double digit comp numbers required to ensure profitability against high rents on oversized stores. In other words, there is no feasible path forward for the chain. In New York City, the remaining Scoop locations are on Third Avenue between 73rd and 74th Streets, Brookfield Place, and separate men's and women's stores on Washington Street between 13th and 14th Streets in the Meatpacking District as well as East Hampton and Wheatley Plaza stores on Long Island.