With the chain's second New York store set to open on Fifth Avenue in a couple of weeks, H&M-owned retailer & Other Stories is confirming its position as the quirky new contemporary chain to watch with an announcement that it is collaborating with the Rodarte label designed by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy for a capsule collection to launch in Spring 2016. It will be the chain's 16th designer collaboration, and the Mulleavy sisters' third team-up with a retailer to reach a broader audience. WWD reports that the collection will range from $29 for tights to $325 for a sequined dress. Though images of the collection have been kept under wraps, one exclusive teaser look at the line debuted on Vogue.com featuring some crystal studded tights and a mismatched pair of chunky, sparkly high-heeled sandals. The collection will include accessories and shoes as well as ready-to-wear.
“Through this special collaboration with & Other Stories, we are excited to translate the Rodarte narrative into a new environment. [The unique positioning] of & Other Stories in the fashion landscape has allowed us to create a truly special collection,” say the Mulleavy sisters in a statement released by the chain. The sisters got their first taste of collaboration with a capsule for Target several years ago, and then launched a more wide-ranging Rodarte collection with Opening Ceremony a few years later that looked like a stab at forging a more commercially lucrative future for the company. That line was discontinued after a couple of seasons, but it looks like & Other Stories might offer a better price point for the label to make more of an impact with a less expensive collection.
Many longtime New York dwellers like The Shophound still can't fail to cringe while strolling down Gansevoort Street when we pass the sad empty space at no. 69 where the beloved diner deluxe Florent (pictured above) used to welcome customers almost 24 hours a day. After the neighborhood stalwart was unceremoniously booted from the space in 2008, a succession of restaurants has tried to make a go of it in the space, but none succeeded, perhaps as a bitter reminder of the bad karma that builds up when an ill-advised landlord whimsically decides to push out a thriving neighborhood mainstay.
Well, the space's time as a restaurant has come to an end as Madewell has announced the address as it's newest Manhattan location. Expected to open sometime in 2016, it is not yet known exactly how much the space will be transformed, though it seems unlikely that it will still need a kitchen. While the interior will likely be completely changed, it is not yet known if the original R&L Restaurant sign and diner-style exterior will remain or if it can be altered at all as part of the Gansevoort Historic District. In any event, the string of post-Florent failures has made the space known as a cursed space for restaurants. Perhaps a change of purpose and a burgeoning national chain will revive the building's fortunes.
There's still a bit more movement happening at the Shops at Columbus Circle. Original front row tenant Tourneau has taken leave of its spot to the left of the mall's main entrance (pictured below), relinquishing it to Michael Kors, whose store count in the city we can barely keep up with. Kors is not only taking over the space vacated by the watch chain, but also the store next door. J.W. Cooper, which you may remember from the elaborate "trophy" belt buckles and other swanky jewels and objets d'art that memorably used to be displayed in its window, has also vacated its prime space, but if you do have a latent hankering for a $3,200 sterling silver belt buckle with scroll designs and 18K gold accents surrounding an Indian head, you can head on down to Bal Harbour, Florida to visit its other shop. Anyway, back on Columbus Circle, you can see the signage covering both stores that will be combined to make a space suitably large enough for another Kors "lifestyle" store. We aren't sure if it will be finished before or after Kors' upcoming lifestyle flagship in SoHo, but it looks like before too long, there will be even more Kors stores in Manhattan, and we doubt that this will be the last one.
In a move not unlike a vintage Rolex watch promotion from earlier this month, one single Chanel Classic Jumbo Double Flap handbag in mint green (pictured above) will be available at 12 Noon EST today on Gilt.com. It typically retails for $5,000, so that's a nice 90% savings, well below even Gilt's usual steep discounts. There's only one, however, so if you are a Chanel Handbag Fanatic (and we know you are out there) be sure to get to you computer/iPad/phone on time tomorrow. The Designer Handbag Sale will also be introducing Reece Hudson to Gilt customers for the first time, so if you miss out on the Chanel, plenty of other good stuff is being promised. Good luck!
If it seems to you that the prices for hot luxury items like Chanel handbags and Christian Louboutin shoes are going up at a dizzying rate, you are not mistaken. The Wall Street Journal reports that prices for luxury brand items from labels like Prada, Louis Vuitton and Cartier have risen by as much as 70% in the last five years alone, and customers, many of who were already willing to lay out a couple of thousand dollars for a handbag, are starting to balk, or just buy fewer things. The Louis Vuitton 'Montaigne' bag pictured above is now $2,410, which seems high for a non-leather bag even from LV. According to WSJ, the price of a classic quilted Chanel bag rose 70% to $4,900 since 2009, and coveted brands like Jimmy Choo have jacked up prices by 50% even on basic styles. The brand representatives claim that rising costs of labor and materials have caused the increases, but experts counter that such factors shouldn't count for more than a 5% increase over the time period. The Journal's theory is that as less expensive but aspirational brands like Michael Kors and Coach (which is one of the most popular import labels in China) gain ground, the high-end luxury brands want to distinguish themselves as offering a finer, and therefore more expensive, product. The thinking is that if customers will pay it, they can charge it, but the Journal is telling us that well-heeled customers who are used to what most other folks would consider extravagant spending are fed up. In fact, the wildly inflated prices are showing up on balance sheets as growth, but are hiding the fact that unit sales are dropping as the possibility of having one of those status items seem ever out of reach.
Now, growth is slowing, so what does this mean for luxury prices in the future? Will they level off, or even drop? It is unlikely that a brand like Chanel will lower the overall prices of its basic products, but perhaps they will reconsider when pricing new items. Luxury prices overall may stabilize for the next few seasons, because as enthusiastic as the 1% is about buying luxury labels, they are also quick to turn on a brand if they feel that they are being gouged at the register. As emerging markets overseas continue to present themselves, however, these brands may not have to trade too far down to hit projections, they can just expand globally. There may not be much of an end in sight.
Soaring Luxury-Goods Prices Test Wealthy's Will to Pay (Wall Street Journal)
You would think that with all the luxury business in New York City, that there would be room enough for all the illustrious brands in a flagship-sized watch store, but it turns out that some brands have more clout than others, and they will wield it when it suits them. Chanel is suing the city's largest watch seller, Tourneau over a breach of contract regarding an aborted Chanel watch boutique originally installed in Tourneau's multi-level "Time Machine" flagship store on East 57th Street. According to Chanel's suit, when Cartier officials, including its CEO Stanislas Chauveau De Quercize, visited the Tourneau store earlier this year they essentially pointed to Chanel's new in-store watch boutique and said "Either that goes or we do".
In a store like Bergdorf Goodman or Saks Fifth Avenue, a vendor like Chanel might have a certain amount of authority to make demands by virtue of the huge amount of business it generates, but in the luxury watch world, things are different. Chanel's popular and widely copied white ceramic sports watches are mere niche players compared to the giants like Rolex, Omega, Patek Phillipe and, most prominently Cartier. The folks at Tourneau apparently weighed their options and decided that whatever trouble might arise with Chanel couldn't possibly be as bad as losing the Cartier business. Now, Chanel, which no longer does business with Tourneau, is suing for $15 million, and its former boutique is reportedly serving as a Christmas tree display area. Business with Cartier is, presumably, continuing as usual now that the offending brand has been removed, but what could this mean for stores like Saks or Bergdorf's which have multiple agreements with competing luxury labels with in-store shops throughout their stores? Will Dior be able to insist that a new Balenciaga shop be banished from its floor? Will Saint Laurent insist that Céline be moved elsewhere, or even out the door? While Tourneau's little watch battle may seem relatively innocuous, the ramifications might have a rippling effect throughout multi-brand luxury stores.
Chanel Sues Watch Retailer Tourneau in Contract Dispute By Chris Dolmetsch (Bloomberg)
Saks isn't the only New York store that got a new owner this week. In a surprise move, sportswear chain American Apparel has purchased the New York boutique mini-chain OAK including both of its stores, its online e-commerce site and its wholesale business. This is the first time that chain has acquired another retailer, which it plans to continue operating separately from the main chain under its founders Louis Terline and Jeff Madalena. “This is their division. They are being empowered to grow their business,” AA Chairman and CEO Dov Charney tells WWD. The pair will also offer creative input for the American Apparel chain. Oak currently operates two stores, one in on Bond Street in NoHo and another on Nassau Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Compared to its new owner's affordable basic sportswear, it operates in an entirely different category offering much more exclusive, directional and expensive merchandise in the contemporary price range. The new deal will allow Oak to expand both overseas and in the U.S. with potential possibilities including Seoul, South Korea where AA has available space, and Los Angeles where its new parent company is headquartered and the brand's spare, modern fashion sensibility would have natural appeal. In addition, the stores will be able to take advantage of more sophisticated back office and e-commerce systems as well as in-house manufacturing capabilities for its wholesale collection, so faithful customers here in New York can expect to see a stronger and possibly bigger Oak in the coming months.
American Apparel Purchases N.Y. Specialty Retailer Oak (WWD)
OAK (Official Site)
For its most widely distributed "guest designer" collection ever, some say H&M went too esoteric and too expensive by teaming up with Maison Martin Margiela to launch a capsule collection of replicated items form the house's archives.
Well, it's all still just as weird looking, but now it's a lot less cheaper.
This weekend, H&M took an axe to the price tags of the collection, bringing the cost of an outfit closer to what one might expect to pay at the fast fashion chain. We stopped by the new Columbus Circle branch and found most of what we had bought at the launch marked down from half to two thirds off.
There still seems to be a great deal left, and the prices are great. Pretty much all of the shoes that are left (which means all of them except for the sneakers) are now $99, down from $199 and $299 which made it an excellent time to pick up a pair of the men's Mould Effect boots pictured above which are almost indistinguishable from the pair currently on sale at Bergdorf's and on Mr. Porter for around $600 save for a touch of rubber tread on the soles (Obviously there are some quality differences, but they make a pretty damn good knock-off). In fact, we saw little over $99 in the entire collection, including the big, camel colored coat, and many other key items for men and women. We also noticed that aside form the line's designated areas, pieces were also mixed into stock throughout the store, so it's worthwhile to keep a sharp eye out if you are going to give the line another shot at better prices. H&M likes to turn their merchandise quickly as a rule, and this line is now priced to sell, so if you are interested, now really is the time.
Only a few hours ago, a web page went live and images hit the magical interwebs to finally illuminate us about UU Uniqlo Undercover, UNIQLO's highly anticipated follow up to the much loved +J collaboration with the designer Jil Sander.
Anyone looking for some of Undercover designer Jun Takahashi's more avant-garde looks translated to a better price point might be surprised to see some fairly traditional family scenes here in the initial lookbook images. In fact, UU is being promoted as "clothing for the families of today", and unlike the chain's preceding collaboration, the 105 piece collection will include 43 items for men, 34 items for women, 27 items for children and even 5 things for babies. The designer collaborated with his wife and partner RICO for the children's collection, inspired in part by their own kids. It's a little hard to pick out the details in the promotional images that have just been released, but Uniqlo describes the looks as follows:
The men's line matches gentle colors with darker tones, while 's offerings for women are based upon an exciting palette of colors and patterns drawn from Takahashi's groundbreaking label. Both the men's and women's lines feature a diverse range of fashionable cuts and patterns.
As the parents of two children, the couple lavished attention on the designs for children and babies to produce a playful combination of vibrant colors, unique prints and fine details, pushing this collection far beyond the conventional realm of children's clothing. With the new collection, UNIQLO and Takahashi have developed an eclectic range of fine designs for the whole family, so parents can have fun complementing their children's looks.
That should whet your appetite just a bit for the next six weeks or so until the collection arrives in Uniqlo's flagship stores. If the line does not seem quite as experimental as some might have expected, it should delight fans of more prosaic, everyday Japanese sportswear. The launch is set to debut with the opening of the chain's latest global flagship in Tokyo's Ginza district, and presumably will hit New York's three flagships at the same time. If we receive the entire line, it will also mark the return of children's apparel to Uniqlo's New York stores, something Uniqlo's U.S. President Shin Odake promised The Shophound last October when we toured the new 34th Street store.
Sadly, we only have price ranges in Japanese yen, so to tell you that the line will retail from ¥790 to ¥7990 (roughly $10.50 to $105) might not mean much until the line is priced for the U.S. market given taxes, duties and whatever else comes into comes into consideration in making those decisions.
We will certainly miss +J (and there's still some left at great sale prices —especially outerwear at the 34th street store) but this new collection couldn't look more promising, and we'll be keeping an eye out for more images and information as they hopefully appear before mid-March.
UU Uniqlo Undercover launches at UNIQLO stores on March 16th
UNIQLO To Release UU On March 16. First Collaboration With Jun Takahashi's Undercover Label To Focus On Fashionable Family Apparel (Fast Retailing Press Release)
Click thumbnails above to see full sized images
Brooks Brothers will be continuing its intriguing expansion program this Spring when it opens another Upper West Side branch at the corner of Broadway and 87th Street. The most recent occupant of this recently refurbished space was a pop-up store promoting Uniqlo's larger store openings this past Fall.
From the signage outside, we are guessing that this particular unit will be merchandised similarly to the one directly across town at 86th and Madison which carries men's and women's apparel, but focuses particularly on children's clothes. Brooks Brothers already has a more expansive men's and women's store near Lincoln Center, but the window imagery on this upcoming location suggests a sportier, more family-oriented location which would fit with the neighborhood (UPDATE: The window imagery reads: "Men, Women and Children" which should be a pretty telling clue). This will be the preppy retailer's eighth store in Manhattan including the specialized Black Fleece store on Bleecker Street, and the just opened Flatiron Shop near Union Square. Its neighbors will be other chains like Ann Taylor, Talbots, Club Monaco and Banana Republic, but Brooks Brothers should bring a new dimension to the West Side retail scene which leans heavily toward women's apparel. Even other chains that sell men's clothes in their other Manhattan stores like Club Monaco, Reiss, Theory and Rag & Bone eschew it in their West Side stores. Why this is, we have no idea, but on a long stretch of boutique-heavy Columbus Avenue, we recently counted only Burberry, Sean and longtime men's clothier Frank Stella as selling upscale men's apparel (and, no, we aren't counting Patagonia or Century 21). Perhaps Brooks Brothers' arrival on Upper Broadway this Spring will attract more men's stores to a part of town where there are plenty of men with plenty of money to spend.