COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

Christophe Lemaire's Next UNIQLO U Collection Arrives In Less Than 2 Weeks

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Image: Uniqlo.com

Collaboration watchers have another date to mark on their shopping calendars. The second season of the Uniqlo U capsule collection from its dedicated Paris studio led by designer Christophe Lemaire will be available at Uniqlo.com after 9 PM on February 15th, arriving in selected stores the next day. As usual, most U.S. Uniqlo stores will have a limited selection, but the exceptions include the North Michigan Avenue location as well as the three Manhattan flagships on Fifth Avenue, 34th Street and in SoHo, which will all carry the complete collection for men and women. For Spring, fans can look for the same clean-lined luxury basics aesthetic that has marked all of Lemaire's work with the chain. The collection is now meant to represent Uniqlo's most innovative materials and manufacturing techniques, so expect more cutting edge textiles along with silhouettes that incorporate current runway trends like wider legged pants and boxy, oversized knits. Women's swimwear will be a new addition, arriving later this season, along with a greater shoe offering and more workwear-inspired denim pieces including jeans and outerwear. Have a look at the full collection Here, and see a few more lookbook shots in the gallery after the jump.

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Image: Uniqlo.com

(Uniqlo)

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GOING SOON:

American Apparel Leads The Latest List Of Retail Implosions

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We have been hearing about American Apparel's woes for so long that it is almost a surprise that it took the once innovative chain this long to finally shut down, which it is the process of doing right now.
We have certainly spent plenty of time going on about American Apparel various antics over the years, most recent it has been about the removal of its controversial founder and former CEO Dov Charney whose removal in 2014 shined a light on the company's worst attributes behind the scenes including not only his highly questionable work behavior and the environment it created, but, more importantly, his mismanagement of the retail chain which had grown larger than he was able successfully steward. It was an ugly fight and —long and complicated story short— he lost. New, more experienced management arrived, but the damage was more than they were able to repair, and after AA's most recent bankruptcy last year, the company's intellectual property and some of its equipment was sold for a mere $88 million to the Canadian company Gildan Activewear which was not interested in continuing to operate the chain of retail stores that in more optimistic days threatened to overrun New York City. While many American Apparel stores have already been closed through ongoing reorganization efforts, the rest will be gone in a few months. More upsettingly, Charney's pride and joy, his Los Angeles factory at which much of the company's products were made has been shut down. Workers spent Monday this week in lines at the facility to pick up their final paychecks. Monday's layoffs came to about 2,400 workers.  No severance and likely more layoffs to come.
American Apparel joins a group of retailers who have seen a sad New Year including the final shutdown of the once dominant women's apparel chain The Limited and the announcement of major store closures from iconic American chains Sears and Macy's. Each of these companies have long been suffering from their own systemic problems, so it may be premature to announce a crisis for the retail industry in general, but the loss of 100 Macy's units alone is going to be a jolt to retail landlords who now have to either redevelop the spaces or attract a shrinking pool of large stores to try and fill all those square feet —not to mention finding new tenants for the newly or soon-to-be empty Limited and American Apparel spaces that dot shopping areas across the country.

(WWD)


OVERSEAS IMPORTS:

UK Fast Fashion Brand Boohoo Set For Lower Fifth Avenue Debut

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Yet another fast-fashion chain from a faraway land is set to make its New York debut. UK based internet retailer Boohoo.com, has reportedly signed a lease for a 2,000 square foot store at 3 West 13th Street just off Fifth Avenue and a block away from Union Square. The 10-year-old site has become one of the fastest growing online retailers worldwide. Aimed at 16 to 24 year-old customers, it looks to be poised to take on chains like Forever 21 with trendy but wallet-friendly looks for high school and college-aged shoppers. Though not an enormous store, it is being designed to be "experiential" space that will also serve as an event space and presumably encourage shoppers to shop on their phones and mobile devices while they are there.

(NYPost)


CHAIN GANG:

Pottery Barn To Make A Big Bow In Flatiron

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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.


COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

GAP x GQ's Best New Menswear Designers Collections Are Now In Stores

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Image: GAP.com

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.

 


IN-STORE SCORE:

Macy's Will Debut A New Apple Store Next Month

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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.

(WWD)


COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

Is Alber Elbaz Making A Comeback With Uniqlo?

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.

Is Alber Elbaz Joining Uniqlo? (WWD)


ZONING DRAMA:

Restoration Hardware's Upcoming Meatpacking District Flagship Is Currently Illegal.

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Rendering of 9-19 Ninth Avenue via DNAinfo

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.

Restoration Hardware Flagship Is Too Big for Meatpacking District: City (DNAinfo)


TAKE A BOW:

Scoop NYC In The Financial District Will Be Gone After This Weekend

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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.

UPDATE:
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.


COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

Christophe Lemaire Will Make A Second Home At Uniqlo

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Christophe Lemaire and his new design team for Uniqlo U/Courtesy Image

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.

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The new Uniqlo U logo/Courtesy Image

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)