It may have just lost its creative director, but that won't stop Brioni from opening it's newest store on Madison Avenue this Fall. It's not totally clear if this store is meant to be a replacement or an addition to the Roman-founded label's flagship on East 57th street, but it's certainly about time that the revered brand joins its colleagues and competitors like Isaia, Berluti, Ermenegildo Zegna and Cesare Attolini on New York's most luxury-concentrated shopping strip. Brioni will be taking the northern corner shop of the recently refurbished Carlton House at 62nd Street, just one block from Barneys. Presumably, the store will open with Brioni's Fall 2015 collection which was the last one directed by Brendan Mullane who added a more directional edge to the label's classic Italian tailoring. It may have been a little bit too directional as Mullane was dismissed last month while Ermenegildo Zegna also parted ways with its designer, Stefano Pilati. Rumors swirled that the designers' innovations, impressive though they may have been to critics, were neither resonating with the labels' existing, traditionally minded customers nor attracting enough new ones. Zegna managed to poach Alessandro Sartori, the designer who originally developed its Z Zegna collection, away from Berluti where he oversaw the merging of the artisanal shoe brand with the Parisian custom tailor Arnys to make a new men's luxury lifestyle brand. Sartori will now oversee all Zegna collections. Will Brioni, now owned by luxury conglomerate Kering, try again to find someone new to add some more youthful zing to its image and attract more fashion forward customers or fall back the impeccably hand tailored traditional clothing that has always been its stock in trade? Whatever it chooses, it will have a prime Madison Avenue location to display it.
Fendi has quietly closed its SoHo store on the corner of Prince and Greene Streets, but it is not abandoning the neighborhood. According to the covered up windows, next month, a new store will open only halfway down the block at 104 Greene Street (pictured above), formerly an H.Stern jewelry store.
There was an H.Stern in SoHo?
Yes, there was, but one could be forgiven for not noticing. Wedged between the Melissa shoe store and Design Within Reach, it is one of the few retail spaces in the neighborhood that has brick walls where windows should be. Inside is a long and narrow selling space, which could be made into a compelling store, but overall, it is a dismayingly inconspicuous space for a prized, LVMH controlled luxury brand —particularly compared to the infinitely more visible previous corner location at 122 Greene.
Maybe Fendi has yet to prove through sales numbers that it deserves a larger presence in the neighborhood. Vast corporate management can be tough on its brands at times. The previous store while exceedingly well-positioned, was particularly petite, serving as a focused showcase for handbags and accessories only. It was far from an extensive representation of Fendi's offerings, and the upcoming location may offer more space with its stretched out configuration, but the store's innocuous frontage makes us wonder if it may just be something of a placeholder until Fendi finds a more visible SoHo location that is more befitting of a celebrated brand and puts it on a more level footing with other boutiques of its ilk including Chanel, Dior, Burberry, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent and the like. In the meantime, we can check back in February to see how Fendi contends with its unusual new home.
The Flatiron District will be dealt a blow next week when the Paul Smith boutique at 108 Fifth Avenue (pictured above) permanently closes its doors and moves to a temporary space on Bleecker Street in the West Village. While the designer has a flagship store in SoHo, a Williamsburg location and a new outpost at Brookfield Place in the Financial District, the Fifth Avenue store was Smith's first in New York opening in 1987. It was one of the first designer stores in the neighborhood and, along with Emporio Armani on the other side of 16th Street (now a closed Joe Fresh), established Fifth Avenue between 23rd and 14th Streets as a bona fide shopping destination that seemed to be geared more toward downtown dwelling New Yorkers than tourists or bridge-and-tunnel shoppers. Even though the neighborhood eventually became more of a destination for chain stores that made it something of a mall without the mall (Gap, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, H&M, Victoria's Secret etc.), The Paul Smith boutique maintained its place as the high-end lynchpin for the neighborhood for nearly 30 years, even expanding downstairs.
Smith won't miss a beat, however. As clearly stipulated in the window (pictured below) the Bleecker Street store will open on Monday It is a more compact 1,000 square feet to Fifth Avenue's 1,800, but it is technically a temporary location to serve until a more suitable permanent spot is found. Where it will ultimately land remains to be seen, but the hands-on designer has been known to be extremely picky about where he places his boutiques, so wherever it is, expect it to be perfectly chosen all in good time.
As any New Yorker knows, shopping in Midtown between Thanksgiving and New Years can be a trial. The combination of Holiday shoppers and high season tourists can make simply walking up Fifth Avenue a sidewalk-rage inducing experience. Of course, finding quieter, out of the way places to shop can be its own challenge, but the curated men's lifestyle website TRNK and the sophisticated menswear label Bespoken have joined forces for a Holiday pop-up shop that will solve thee problems and make you never want to set foot into a department store again. . . at least for a while anyway.
Part of the reason why the shop is such a pleasure is that it is discreetly tucked away at the Bespoken showroom on the seventh floor of the East 57th Street building that houses its related brand, Turnbull & Asser (Bespoken co-founders Sammy and Liam Fayed's father Ali Al-Fayed has owned Turnbull & Asser for the past three decades or so). Discreetly but not inconveniently tucked away away from the bustle below, the showroom has been transformed by TRNK's co-founders Tariq Dixon and Nick Nemechek into a cozy lounge where everything is for sale combining the best gift picks from their Holiday offerings and the Bespoken line. That sleek walnut and brass bar cart can be yours for a mere $1,650, but not everything extends into the four-figure realm. There are cleverly designed desk accessories, wool throws, barware and even the rugs can be yours. Everything is skillfully chosen to complement the Bespoken clothes on display including sumptuous sweaters, knitted cashmere caps and a particularly appealing shirt in lofty brushed cotton with high-tech taped seams. The shop will be open to the public through Christmas and private appointments can scheduled by email or by phone. Of course, if you can't make it in, most of the merchandise can be purchased through the companies respective websites as well.
See a closer look at the shop after the jump
Fans of burgeoning Italian designer shoe label Aquazzura will be flocking this spring to the block that the Whitney Museum just vacated when the label debuts its first freestanding store in the United States. Currently under extensive renovation, the retail space in the row of townhouses just to the museum building's south will be the label's new home (as pictured in the rendering above). The Commercial Observer reports that the label, founded by former Ferragamo shoe designer Edgardo Osorio in 2011, will take 2,221 square feet including ground floor and basement space. While Madison Avenue's prime stretch has traditionally been thought to be between 57th and 72nd Streets, designers have been pushing northward for some time. The new boutique will fall between 74th and 75th Streets, and a Spring opening will coincide with the Metropolitan Museum taking over the museum building which will be known as the Met Breuer after its esteemed architect. More to the point, Aquazzura's shop will be in just about the same spot as Christian Louboutin's first New York store. You can now find those red-soled slippers a block or so to the north, but if the location works half as well for Aquazzura as it did for its acclaimed colleague, the label should easily break out of its insider-y niche status.
Italian Luxury Shoemaker Opening First U.S. Store in Manhattan (Commercial Observer)
There are very few designer labels that never go on sale. Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton come to mind, but these are companies that mainly trade in non-seasonal goods. Even highly desirable luxury brands like Prada, Hermès and Chanel have seasonal clearances because there's always something left over that didn't capture a customer. Normally, one would add Gucci to that list, but not this season, or possibly the next one. Gucci's CEO Marco Bizarre has announced that the customer response to new creative director Alessandro Michele's first collections (pictured above) has been so unexpectedly strong that there simply isn't enough left to put on sale without leaving the store's racks bare. Michele's shows with their offbeat "dressed in the dark" eclecticism delighted critics and stylists, but were far from what any retailer would have called a commercial sure thing. Recognizing the potential need for an adjustment period for the brand's new look, Gucci kept its production levels conservative, but the degree of caution was unnecessary, as Bizzari told Business of Fashion, "The full price [sell-through] was very, very high, so we don’t have a lot left, frankly.” What will happen when the collection is finally out of season? it may go to outlets, or possibly be held over until June, when a decision regarding marking down the current Cruise collection will be made. If you thought you might pick something up at a multi-brand retailer, you may not have much more success. Gucci's in-store shops at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's are leased operations that will follow the same markdown schedule as the boutiques, and while the ones at Bergdorf's are not leased, the store is likely to be experiencing the same kind of sell-throughs with the collection as the boutiques.
Will there never be a Gucci sale again? Probably, at some point, the brand will return to the practice. Eventually, if demand for Michele's collections keeps up, production will be increased and there will be more left at the end of the season to put on clearance, but the brand could always choose to keep production tight and burnish its image with a no-markdowns policy which always helps profit margins. Gucci, after all makes its money from shoes and handbags which are less seasonal items.While the fashion collections get a lot of press, they are less of a revenue generator for a company known for leather goods. Sale shoppers may have to wait this one out for a while.
Michele Momentum Means No Markdowns at Gucci (Business of Fashion)
Perhaps no designer brand has benefitted more from an H&M collaboration than Balmain. The publicity onslaught leading up to that launch has turned the it and its current creative director Olivier Roustieng from insiders' niche label to multimedia phenomenons in a matter of months, and, for New Yorkers, the cycle is now fully complete with a Balmain boutique opening on Wooster Street today. This store will have the real stuff —no more cut rate collaboration capsules— with staggering price tags to match, and it's the first Balmain boutique in the U.S., one of only a handful worldwide. Compared to the H&M launch, the boutique is opening fairly quietly, but its arrival continues to fortify SoHo's position as a premier alternative to Madison Avenue or Midtown for luxury brands.
Well, it looks like a misleading item on Vogue.com suggested that the Balmain boutique was opening on the 19th, but a stroll past 100 Wooster Street nearly indicated that is not the case. The store should be coming soon, though. We just don't know exactly when.
Burberry To Consolidate Brit, London And Prorsum Labels Into A Single Monobrand By Next Year
More than a few eyebrows were discreetly raised several months ago when Marc Jacobs said he would do it, and now Burberry is the next designer brand to follow suit and combine all of its various sub-labels into a singular, all encompassing Burberry brand. After next Spring, you will say goodbye to the separate Prorsum, Brit and London labels as creative director Christopher Bailey undoes the tiered strategy installed by former CEO Rose Marie Bravo who spearheaded the British brand's reinvention in the late 1990s. In a statement to the press yesterday, Bailey says he is after “a much more consistent experience of the collections. Those categories were created when Burberry sales were 70 percent wholesale and 30 percent retail. Now it’s the opposite, with retail sales that are bigger. The key is to present a cohesive brand experience.”
In doing so, Bailey is adopting the model of European luxury brands like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton which have generally eschewed diffusion offshoot labels. A few years ago, Dolce & Gabbana closed its lower priced D&G collection which had originally been a more casual licensed jeans and sportswear line that developed into fully fledged sub-brand. Folding it back into the main collection may have lost it a few retail doors, but ultimately, it has left the hugely popular label with a stronger, more focused fashion image. Similarly, Marc Jacobs announced late last year that his Marc by Marc Jacobs contemporary label will be merged into a more broadly defined main collection for Spring 2016, and now Burberry is following a similar path to strengthen its brand image.
While there are two main Burberry boutiques on East 57th Street and in SoHo, the smaller Brit and London shops on Bleecker Street, Madison Avenue and at Brookfield Place will be rebranded simply as Burberry by next Summer. Bailey has already begun to mix the three labels in his runway shows (including Spring 2016 pictured above) which had previously been restricted to the most luxurious Prorsum label. In case you are wondering if the company is just trying to put a spin on cutting losses, there will reportedly be no jobs eliminated in the brand consolidation. In fact, the company is doing so well that it has announced a plans for a new factory in Leeds, England which will allow it to increaser its iconic trench coats. The new facility will include state of the art technology that will alleviate pressure on the two Yorkshire factories which have been pushed to capacity manufacturing the coveted coats from the weaving of the fabric to the finished product.
Earlier this year, designer Todd Snyder (pictured at right) closed his City Gym extended pop-up store in NoLita with a nice big sale and a hint that a new, permanent boutique was in the works, but no news on that front has appeared until today when it was announced that the designer had sold his company to American Eagle Outfitters.
This was a little bit of a surprise.
While both companies share a classic American-based aesthetic, American Eagle is a mall mainstay, while Snyder's own line, a Shophound favorite, has more luxury designer-level positioning. Even his collaboration with sweatshirt-maker Champion has an exclusive, limited distribution. Would the designer collection get downgraded into more of a moderate priced brand?
It turns out that American Eagle was less interested in Snyder's luxe line than they were in the Tailgate Clothing Co. t-shirt brand that Snyder had started with his family in the early 1990s. While The Shophound and most other consumers had no idea that there was any connection between Snyder and the vintage-inspired t-shirt company, it turns out that it has been helping to fund his designer collection which he started in 2011, and has a strong following among the collegiate customers that AE values so highly. Tailgate will be expanded with its own stores, and Snyder himself will become an executive vice-president of American Eagle while continuing to run his own label independently from the larger chain. Its more exclusive designer status will be maintained with more funding to allow it to expand as well, including a search for a freestanding Todd Snyder boutique in New York as confirmed by American Eagle global brand president, Chad Kessler in WWD today. Now, we just have to sit back and with for him to find a space, which is easy, right?
À propos of the days before Halloween, Critical Shopper Molly Young makes an excursion to the recently opened Givenchy boutique in today's Thursday Styles. Riccardo Tisci's version of Givenchy is offering possibly the darkest, witchiest vision in luxury fashion these days, and while it is frequently described as "Goth", it has really evolved into more of a moody, baroque aesthetic with tinges of mysticism. Our shopper seems to enjoy her visit noting that the gallery-like boutique seems to welcome all,
Givenchy is also a great place to encounter beauty, no matter what your tax bracket. Looking is free, after all. The salesmen are warm and offer coffee. You can stare at $22,000 velvet dresses and silk blouses with an all-over centaur print ($4,195). You can flip through books by Marina Abramovic.
It's the sort of successful brand statement that makes sense of the fashion in-joke of using competitor Donatello Versace as this season's campaign model, and given the dodgy job security of running a Parisian couture house these days, a strong brand image is Tisci's best form of employment insurance.
Critical Shopper: Givenchy on Madison Avenue Mixes Metaphors, Beautifully By Molly Young (NYTimes)
Givenchy 747 Madison Avenue at 65th Street, Upper East Side