Diesel's Midtown Plans Seem To Include Staying On Fifth Avenue

Last week, news of Diesel's freshly signed retail lease at 625 Madison Avenue coupled with the closure of its Fifth Avenue flagship led many of us to assume that the denim giant was ditching the city's most desirable retail address for an only slightly less desirable one on Madison Avenue. Well, a stroll up Fifth earlier today revealed that while the Diesel flagship is indeed closed and under plywood, it appears to be undergoing an extensive renovation. Again, it is surprising to see such a dramatic alteration after only six years, but less so that abandoning the space altogether after such a short time. Signage (above) clearly states that the store is under construction, but still one of Diesel's.
As for 625 Madison Avenue (below), the reported 4,400 square feet seemed a little bit cramped to fit a flagship, which leads us to another speculation: that the new space might be devoted to the brand's upscale collection, Diesel Black Gold, which currently has a location in SoHo. While it has been around for a while, the Black Gold line has gained some real traction in the past few seasons now that creative direction has been assumed by Andreas Melbostad formerly of the late and much lamented PHI. A Madison Avenue location would be much more appropriate for the more exclusive runway collection, and the whole arrangement generally makes a lot more sense. As with all unconfirmed speculation, the store could be for something else entirely (childrens?) or for another brand owned by Diesel owner Renzo Rosso's Only The Brave holding company, but our money's on Black Gold, for now.

Flagship Flash: Diesel Flagship Trading Fifth Avenue For Home On Madison


Diesel Flagship Trading Fifth Avenue For Home On Madison

Diesel5thAveAs one big Fifth Avenue spot gets filled, another one looks like it will be opening up so. Diesel has reportedly signed a deal to take over 4,400 square feet of space including the Baccarat store at 625 Madison Avenue across from the rear side of the GM building. The new store's neighbors will include Fratelli Rosetti, Stuart Weitzman and Philipp Plein.
Presumably, that means that the Italian denim brand will be abandoning the Fifth Avenue flagship it opened only six years ago in the former longtime home of Gucci (pictured left). Since most retail leases these days start at about 10 years, we can only speculate as to why a, presumably healthy, major international brand like Diesel would abandon a lavish, high profile store right in the middle of Fifth Avenue's tourist-rich sweet spot before its lease is up? Have rents on Fifth inflated so much in the past couple of years that Diesel's landlord was willing to buy them out in order to make way for a new tenant willing to pay even more? At $1,400 a square foot, Diesel's rent on Madison for a 10 year lease is reportedly an 83% increase over what Baccarat paid.
We know, it's insane, but it still might be less than what Fifth Avenue demands.
The other question is why Diesel would move to Madison at all?
While Fifth has become a peculiar free-for-all mix between longtime pure luxury players like Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany and Cartier, newer brand palaces like Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Armani and mass market mega-flagships like Gap, H&M, Uniqlo and soon, Forever 21, Madison has remained an enclave of almost exclusively the highest-end boutiques and jewelers. Some luxury brands like Amani, Bottega Veneta, Valentino and Prada maintain a presence on both streets to show off for tourists on Fifth and serve more exclusive, crowd averse clients on Madison. Diesel, as upscale as it may be, doesn't really fit that mold. There must have been some reason why the jeans giant was compelled to leave what would seem to be the perfect spot for one that is good, but maybe not quite as good. Maybe 625 Madison offers a more favorable selling space, or perhaps it was just financially more viable? We may never know for sure, but we can count on the new store to be something of an update for the brand. We have no opening date yet, but expect it to reflect Diesel's retail evolution under its recently installed creative director, Nicola Formichetti. Stay tuned.

SL Green Secures Dramatic Rent Increase in Diesel Deal (Commercial Observer)


Denim x Alexander Wang Is Coming Tomorrow

Alexander-wang-denim04Never a dull moment in Wang-world.
Today he is pulling a Beyoncé.
Alexander Wang, who just released a blockbuster collaboration line with H&M is not resting for the Holiday Season. He is reportedly launching an entire new line called Denim x Alexander Wang that is expected to be in stores tomorrow with exactly zero advance publicity except for a cryptic, possibly NSFW Instagram image that the designer posted earlier today (and which you can see after the jump). We know little more than that it is coming with a major ad campaign shot by Steven Klein. By this time tomorrow, the fashion and retailing industries will be talking of nothing else, so stay tuned for details.

UPDATE 12/3/14:
The complete info is now online at the WWD link below. The denim collection —three styles in three washes making 9 different variations— will be available exclusively at the Alexander Wang SoHo boutique and through his website on Monday, December 8th. Expect a sellout within hours. WWD reports that the line "launches" today, which probably means that the Steven Klein ad campaign teased on Instagram is officially released. It features model Anna Ewers sort of wearing the jeans, in pretty solidly NSFW images meant to evoke Calvin Klein Jeans ads in their most controversial, early 90s days. “It’s not provocative just in terms of sexy, but provocative to provoke conversation,” Wang tells WWD. “I’m not dictating what that message is exactly. The interesting part is to see how people interpret it, and what they have to say about it. Of course, there are going to be people who disagree with it.” Have a look at them and form your own opinion after the jump.

Alexander Wang Does Denim (WWD)

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Earnest Sewn To Shutter Shops In Advance Of 2014 Relaunch

Fans of premium denim brand Earnest Sewn will have only a few more weeks to stock up on their favorite  denim styles before the company's shops on the Lower East Side and in the Meatpacking District (pictured above) close down due to new ownership. The once coveted label's trademarks have been purchased by Anthony Frym, an industry veteran, who will relaunch the brand sometime next year with a new store in an as-yet-unannounced location. Not much is known about Frym's plans for the brand beyond his work to set up new manufacturing in California for the new Earnest Sewn, so he will  maintaining its "Made in U.S.A.' heritage. We have to note that Frym purchased only Earnest Sewn's trademarks, not its operations or retail stores, which is why they are closing. Since co-founder and creative force Scott Morrison departed the brand a few years ago, Earnest Sewn's wholesale business has diminished to almost nothing as retailers turned to other labels, including one that Morrison started himself. Whether or not Frym will keep some of the line's most popular (and still highly relevant) jeans models like Harlan or Kyrre is unknown, as he will basically be re-building the brand from the ground up with a new creative team. The label's website (pictured below) now features only a "Coming soon" message along with an encouraging switch to a clean, sans-serif lowercase logo more like the one it originally used before it switched to an overall "Ye Olde Denim Store" aesthetic. “For me, it still has a very strong American brand image,” he tells WWD. A countdown clock on the homepage points to February 16th as the day to mark for more news of Earnest Sewn's future.

In a sense, this is the story of what happens to a premium denim brand when Scott Morrison leaves. For example, the once red-hot brand Paper Denim & Cloth faltered when Morrison, who was instrumental in developing it, left to start Earnest Sewn. Morrison's intriguing new brand with its unique, Japanese inspired wabi-sabi detailing, easily stepped into the stores that dropped the declining Paper Denim, very much like his current, even more expensive, artisan-inspired brand 3x1 has pushed Earnest Sewn out of influential denim stores like Barneys and Ron Herman. Recently, new owners are also in the process of re-launching paper Denim & Cloth as a premium label after it tried to trade down as a more moderately priced line, but they are now facing an even more crowded market full of connoisseur labels like 3Sixteen, novelty driven brands like Naked & Famous and ever more popular overseas imports like Sweden's Nudie. In about three months, presumably, we'll get a better idea of how Earnest Sewn's new life will unfold.

Earnest Sewn Changes Hands (WWD)


What Happened To Levi's On Lex?
Krizia Moves On

Every now and then a faithful reader poses an inquiry for The Shophound to follow up on. A few days ago, Al emailed us to ask:

"Any idea what happened to the Levi's store on Lexington Ave. across from Bloomingdales?  It's no more"

While we like to keep tabs on prominent stores, we had no idea that the longtime Levi's flagship (pictured above) had vanished, but it turns out that another chain has taken over the space. Reason? The usual lease ending/rent hike drama that happens all over the city. it turns out that Sephora was willing to pay more than Levi's for a prime spot across the street from one of the city's most iconic department stores. The 7,000 square foot store is will be charging the cosmetics chain $700 per square foot which is as moch as anyone gets in that area and twice what Levi's last lease cost them. This will make it the 17th Sephora in New York City, and it makes us wonder of the popular makeup chain might not becoming like Duane Reade in its ubiquity. There is already a Sephora a couple of blocks downtown near 57th street. As for Levi's, losing such a large, high profile store is a blow. The area around Bloomingdale's is increasingly important as shopping area distinct from the more luxurious Madison Avenue strip a couple of blocks across town. It might be hard for the iconic denim brand to find another large space in the area, unless, of course, some other store gets its rent doubled and has to ove on —which will probably be happening any minute now.

In other missing store news, it looks like Krizia's brief stay in the Meatpacking District has come to an end. The incredible clearance sale several weeks ago turned out to be something of a closing sale. Once one of italy's brightest designer labels, Krizia has been eclipsed by newer brands in recent decades. The particular section of 14th street where its boutique (pictured below) was found —meant to replace a longtime Madison Avenue home— just under the High Line has been obscured by construction and still has not fully flowered despite being only a stone's throw from hot stores like Diane von Furstenberg. Perhaps a Krizia revival will bring the boutique back to a stronger response.



No Lines At Ralph Lauren
Denim & Sportswear From Current-Elliott, Joie, Equipment & Nicholas K

You would think that the big Ralph Lauren Collection sale at Soiffer Haskin would have at least some people lined up outside, but no such queues occurred this morning. Perhaps it was the rainstorms, or perhaps, at this point people have learned that the sale is low on runway fashion from the designer and high on random basics that change little from season to season. Nonetheless, things were pretty subdued during the sale's first hour this morning, and there was plenty of merchandise with a simple pricing guide. 65% off retail prices for men's clothes, 70% off women's clothes and 75% off shoes and accessories meaning that savings range from OK to pretty good. The majority of offerings are from the Black Label and Black Label Denim lines with a bit of Purple Label and Collection mixed in, and a smattering of men's RRL in a corner for good measure. The sale runs through Thursday, and has been known to add extra discounts on the last day, so holding out might not be such a bad idea for Lauren fans looking for a sweeter deal.

As for the rest of the week, the sample sale season has crested somewhat, but, as it never really stops, there are still events of note coming up including a triple header Joie/Current-Elliott/Equipment sale starting tomorrow at 260 Fifth Avenue. Starting Thursday, designer Nicholas K will be holding a sale for shoppers looking for an edgier look. See our SALE ROLL sidebar at left for details and more breaking sale info.


Rag & Bone Sneaks Into Ed Hardy's Old Meatpacking District Spot

Ever since they closed their "Nobody knew it was a" Pop-up store on Madison Avenue, Rag & Bone's retail strategy for Manhattan has been less conventional than their previous "conquer every neighborhood" plan. Their latest low-profile entry is near the corner of 13th Street and Washington Street in the space that once held the reviled EdHardy13thStEd Hardy's first New York store (pictured at left). The signage above that reads "Dave's Quality Veal" is a remnant of the building's past as a meatpacking plant (Remember when they actually did that there? Remember the smell?). It is not to be confused with Dave's Quality Meat, or DQM, the cult East Village streetwear store. What it does hold is not only a new Rag & Bone shop but also a Jack's Stir Brew Coffee bar. We're not sure if Jack's is a guest of Rag & Bone or the other way around, but the coffee company is the only one listing the store on its website, which might make the international sportswear label a temporary guest in the way that indie bookstores and fringe theater groups sometimes are.

It's a little strange, although Rag & Bone has become so ubiquitous in Manhattan that it's surprising to realize that they didn't already have a Meatpacking District store since they have already hit the East Village, NoLita and SoHo. A plus for the brand: It's only a few doors away from All Saints, so they can easily keep an eye on the chain's Rag & Bone knockoffs. Convenience!

Rag & Bone X Jack's Stir Brew Coffee 425 West 13th Street between Ninth Avenue & Washington Street, Meatpacking District


Looking Ahead To Fall '13 With Levi's

LevisFWpreview-1Click all images for a larger view in a new window

Last week the folks at Levi's invited The Shophound down to Milk Studios for a close look at what America's oldest clothing company has to offer us for the Fall 2013. Luckily, there was no hurricane to derail the proceedings like there was last season, and rather than having a blowout cocktail party as they have in the past, the staff scheduled daytime appointments so we could get a guided tour of all the label's collections —so, no beer, but plenty of good, solid clothes. Here are some highlights to keep an eye out for when the Summer starts to wane:

For the Levi's Vintage Clothing line, the brand's design team comb the archives season after season to meticulously reproduce classic styles right down to the packaging and hangtags. For fall, they have set their sights on the Orange Tab (pictured at right). Readers of a certain age may remember this line as the most popularly priced version of the Levi's brand in the 60s and 70s. For Fall, you'll see Trucker Jackets and Bell Bottoms direct from the 1970s as well as original slim jeans and chambray shirts from the 60s —unfortunately all at premium 21st century prices. The "Boomtown" section (pictured above) spotlights Motown inspired looks from what was then a thriving Motor City, and as always, the latest revisit of the signature 501 denim jean comes from 1978 for everyone feeling nostalgic for the Carter Administration —perfect to wear with that fringed suede western jacket.

Levi's top-of-the-line Made & Crafted collection (pictured at left) has always offered the most luxurious versions of the brand's classics, but for fall, get ready for a lot more fashion from this European designed division. You'll see bold, graphic prints, a sophisticated color palette, the softest cotton khakis and lots of stylish accessories that look more like they came from Opening Ceremony than the denim bar.

Levi's remains committed to improving the environmental impact of its production methods through its Waste<Less program. Next Fall, the polyester in your bright cotton blend corduroy jeans might come from the water bottle you just recycled, but unlike the brown paper napkins at Starbucks, you won't be able to tell.

Innovation has not pushed out the old reliable basics. The main Red Tab collection (pictured below) will have plenty of the classic and affordable denim jeans, western shirts and jackets that everyone loves. Look for vintage inspired 2-tone variations and witty, modern twists like a women's Trucker jacket with wide, kimono sleeves for a fresh-off-the-runway spin on a mainstay.


Civilianaire Heads Back East
to Houston Street

Last year, when The Shophound was traipsing around Los Angeles, we discovered, Civilianaire, the denim and workwear store that stood out to us in a city crammed to the gills with denim and workwear stores. At the time, we mused that the concept could easily be transported to downtown New York. Well, last weekend, as if by magic, Civilianaire opened it's first New York store on the corner of East Houston and Mott Streets. After we pondered for a while about what other useful wishes we should publish here on our, apparently, enchanted blog, we took a jaunt down to NoLita to see if we would be as charmed by the store on a chilly January afternoon in New York as we were on a balmy May afternoon on West Third Street in L.A.

It turns out that Civilianaire has transported itself quite well. The spare interior with its peg-board walls and vintage pendant lights feels well replicated and the clothes look just as bright and appealing as we remembered. While the general concept of faux heritage brand, vintage-inspired jeans and casualwear is, as we have pointed out in the past, not remarkably novel at this point, the trick at Civilianaire is in the execution, which means basically it's all a matter of taste. As it happens, the brand comes form the team that created Lucky Jeans before selling it to the company formerly known as Liz Claiborne Inc, and the vintage inspiration is in a related vein. While there is nothing new about a pair of classic five-pocket selvedge denim jeans, it's the choice of which particular bolts of Japanese denim to use, including brick red, olive and light blue, that makes their jeans look appealing. The same goes for the classic khakis and checked shirts, and the whole line looks fresh and accessible without veering into banality.

As we had stopped by on one of the store's first days with an open door, there was the expected extra bit of attention from the staff, but, to their credit, they weren't oppressive or overeager. They were extra-quick to let me know that everything in the store was made in California, an increasingly salient selling point these days. Though the store is still without the oversized signs that mark its west coast siblings, a steady flow of customers seemed to indicate some early success for Civilianaire on this coast. We won't be surprised to see another outpost or two around town before long. And while we're at it, world peace and a winning Powerball ticket would be awesome as well —just puttin' it out there.

Civilianaire 53-55 Houston Street at Mott Street, NoLita


L.A.'s Civilianaire
Finds A Home In New York

Civilianaire-55-east-houston-620x465You may remember that earlier this year, The Shophound headed clear across the country to check out the retail scene in sunny Los Angeles. One of the local merchants that charmed us the most was Civilianaire, a home grown workwear label with a retro flair that we found on West 3rd Street. That this shop struck our fancy is no mean feat because it turns out that L.A. is lousy with heritage and pseudo-heritage boutiques and brands for the denim and workwear connoisseur. Civilianaire came out on top for us because we loved the way they subtly tweaked the expected classic styles with interesting colors and cleverly chosen materials. Most importantly, they didn't seem to take themselves so seriously. Clearly they were more concerned with making appealing sportswear for the here and now than meticulously re-creating dungarees from the gold-rush era. We immediately thought that this shop would be great in New York.

Well, we like to think that our instincts about such things are pretty good, and this time we weren't the only ones with that particular notion. Bowery Boogie tells us that Civilianaire is about to put its first East Coast store in a spot on East Houston and Mott Streets that has been vacant since late last year. Unfortunately, the neighborhood blog was more focused on lamenting the loss of a popular neighborhood bodega in favor of another boutique. It's true that Civilianaire is the kind of hip, upscale store that has accelerated gentrification in many a formerly humble neighborhood, but, in fairness, Nolita has been home to exclusive boutiques for quite a few years now. We shouldn't be resentful to see another one come along, and we are pretty sure that Civilianaire is not personally responsible for kicking any store out of its location. On the even brighter side, its merchandise is almost entirely manufactured in the United States, so think of all the American jobs the company's success is creating. That should be reason enough to welcome this burgeoning chain to New York, no matter who lived in its house before it moved in.

“Civilianaire” Replaces Bodega with Trendy Denim at 55 East Houston (Bowery Boogie via Racked)
Workwear And Heritage Stores Take Root In L.A. At The Stronghold, Union Made, Civilianaire & RRL (5/18/2012)