Let's just put it out there, The Shophound can sometimes be easily swayed by food.
The prompt offer of hot chocolate and cookies from the nearby City Bakery upon our entrance to Nautica's Holiday season pop-up store (pictured above) in the Flatiron District a couple of days ago was a smart move on the part of the moderate department store mainstay brand. We declined the cookies, mainly because we didn't want to look like too much of a hog, but who can pass up City Bakery hot chocolate? That's not some cheap cup of Swiss Miss, and besides, it forced us to browse for at least long enough to finish sipping our rich and creamy treat.
Oh, yeah, the store. Why we found there was a bit different from what you'll come across in pretty much every Macy's in America. Nautica, like nearly every middle of the road menswear brand is looking to capture an upscale customer who won't be caught in a moderate department store. That's why they have made a special collection for the shop, which features luxurious cabled cashmere sweaters and a sweet raw denim peacoat in place of the more prosaic chinos, windbreakers and polo shirts that the brand is known for. To complement the offerings, Nautica has added Jeans from 7 for All Mankind and Jansport backpacks instead of counterparts from their own brand to mimic the label mixing at the stores like J.Crew and Club Monaco whose customers it hopes to attract. In addition, the store is relaunching the Nautica women's line in the U.S. with similarly uplifted items. Will the gambit work? Nautica's signature navy and white palette has classic appeal at any price point, and boating as a pastime always has an air of the upper classes about it. It remains to be seen if Nautica will be embraced by the more affluent customer it is chasing after so many years of stylish runway shows snd presentations of collections never seemed to fully materialize at retail, but the store shows that the brand can make a case for a more elevated product line if they manufacture it and give people a chance to see it up close.
A similar strategy is under way on a larger scale at the Lands' End temporary store at the long empty Fifth Avenue site (below) that has been home to a string of former Liz Claiborne-owned brands (Liz, Mexx, Juicy Couture) for the better part of two decades until that conglomerate broke apart a few years ago. Most of Juicy's glitz has been finally erased from the space except for the elaborate wrought-iron and brass railing on the staircase connecting the two levels. Stripped down to concrete floors, the store's makeshift ambiance is emphasized by unfinished wooden fixtures and installations (pictured above) which is the perfect backdrop for. . . more cashmere!
Eager to shed the association with its former parent company Sears, Lands' End is also looking to upgrade its fashion image along with its customer base, and what better way to do that than with the multi-ply cashmere poncho that greets customers as they enter the store or maybe a surprisingly trendy navy and white sailor stripe crewneck? With some high profile new execs with tonier backgrounds, the company has hinted that it may stick around at its current Fifth Avenue home permanently. At the moment, it is offering a highly curated array of classic items from its vast inventory in addition to the cashmeres. Chief in the offerings is outerwear, a Lands' End staple. The menswear in particular is showing the touch of its new creative director with more colorful jackets and classic heavy flannel shirts in in updated prints. There are plenty of Holiday gift items, of course, but, more importantly, Lands' End has a whole bar and lounge serving hot chocolate along with its own chocolate mint and salted caramel cookies. After all it will be important to keep your energy up during the upcoming shopping season.
It is still hard for The Shophound to walk past the space on West 57th Street where gorgeous Beaux Arts townhouse that used to house the Rizzoli Bookstore once stood, but the good news is that the store's downtown replacement is scheduled to open in one week. July 27th is the announced date for the store's return at the respectably ornate 1133 Broadway at 26th Street in NoMad. The scaffolding covering the storefront came down yesterday as workers installed the windows and entrance for the new location (see the rendering of the finished store below), so we got an unscheduled peek inside. While it will be nearly impossible to recreate the midtown store's lavish interior, it appears that the new space will still reflect a similar elegance appropriate to the the St. James Building's Gilded Age style. It was a bit hard to see exactly how big the store will be, but it appears that it may connect at some point to the Italian cafe La Pecora Bianca set to open next month in the same building. We won't have too long to wait to find out for sure. As you can see in the photo above, the books are already on the shelves, so the chance to once again peruse your favorite art volumes, imported magazines and high class porn classy coffee table "erotica" books is only days away.
Usually, at this time of year, the sample sales have pretty much wound down as you can see in our much shorter SALE ROLL sidebar at left, but there are a couple of good events worth checking out this week including a return to form for an old favorite. It has been years now since we have missed a GANT Sample Sale, and they have taken on different forms from time to time. Originally a heavily discounted showroom affair featuring an extensive sample line in multiple size ranges, it moved to 260 Fifth Avenue and got a little more expensive and a lot bigger featuring stock as well as samples. When Gant Rugger designer Christopher Bastin took over the entire brand, the sale moved to a slightly smaller venue and again limited itself to mostly a much narrower selection of samples in a reduced size range. This season, however, the sale starting today at 260 Fifth is running a couple of months later than usual, and instead of just the usual samples, shoppers are being treated to a big old-fashioned sample and warehouse clearance featuring deep discounts and an abundance of stock in all sizes. This is the sale that Gant Sample Sale shoppers have been missing for a while, so they should make sure to line up and stock up, because there's no telling if it will be repeated like this next season. The assortments include the Gant, Gant Rugger and YALE Co-op labels for both men and women and, though the Gant by Michael Bastian collection has been discontinued, there are still some good leftover pieces mixed in from last Spring's penultimate collection that are good finds for fans of that much loved label. Savings are advertised at up to 75% off, but a look at the price list shows that that savings can easily run up to 80% to 85% off. The best bargain was a great assortment of shoe, particularly some great, classic styles for men at a measly $40 each which is almost 90% off in many cases. There is a ton of merchandise, but we are reminded that the last time Gant held a similar end-of-season clearance, they never reduced prices, even on the last day. The prices are good enough that we would recommend just getting whatever looks good. Even if they do re-reduce on the final days this weekend, it will still be a worthwhile buy. Also worth checking out this week are DESIGUAL's seasonal sample sale at Clothingline starting today which promises savings on its signature colorful prints for the whole family as well as a special sale of Handbags and Accessories from MACKAGE, also starting today on the garment district. Though that's all for this week, next week promises major sales from VERA WANG and a new, bigger venue for uptown boutique FIVESTORY's seasonal off-site clearance. Keep an eye on the SALE ROLL for details as well as the odd late breaking event, and see more images from the Gant sale in the gallery above including full price lists as well as the official flyer after the jump.
This week's Thursday Styles presented The Shophound with an unusual coincidence. Just as we were about to post our review of the new Danish import tchotchke shop Flying Tiger in the flatiron district, Critical Shopper Molly Young filed hers.
Spoiler Alert: Our opinions do not differ that much in this particular case, but we have a lot more pictures to post without any usage or rights concerns, so feast on our gallery below for a better look at just a small sampling of the delightfully cheap crap the store offers.
We both found the layout maze like, with Ms. Young likening it to a smaller version of fellow Scandinavian Ikea's similarly circuitous store plan. "Working your way through Flying Tiger, you get the sense that a bunch of lunatics in Copenhagen has been given unlimited access to Chinese factories and the mandate to “design a bevy of fun crud” for global distribution," she writes.
The sheer randomness of the company's offerings accounts for most of the shop's appeal, helped in no small part by the low prices with most items below $5 with many at $2 or $3. It's the perfect store for someone with too much time on his or her hands and too little money. It's a magpie's delight filled with shiny stuff, most of it useful, but none of it plain. There are desk accessories, tabletop supplies, crafting gear, candles, eyewear, magnets, drinkware, pens and pencils and tons of other mundane stuff that some design department in Copenhagen has jazzed up with bright colors, flowers, strawberries or an animal motif. It's all too cheap to worry about whether or not any of it is in good taste, and that's the point. While our shopper likened it to Ikea, The Shophound was reminded of the kind of humble variety stores that have long since been obliterated existence by the Walmarts and Targets of the world —the kind of place you might go if you needed some paper napkins, wrapping paper, a stapler, some needles and thread and some notebook paper without having to go to more than one store. Flying Tiger seemed to us like the slightly tipsy version of such a long lost place, and judging from the long line of customers waiting to pay on a steamy Tuesday afternoon, plenty of other people have been enchanted by the store. Our shopper writes,
Flying Tiger is not a store for people who harbor any kind of consumption neurosis. It is a monument to the act of shopping as pure recreation, divorced from aim or object. Nothing in sight is something you need.
We would quibble with that last line.
While Flying Tiger is definitely a danger zone for compulsive buyers, need is a relative term. Nearly everything we saw had some practical function, even if it was all dolled up in colors imported from an 80s teen comedy. The trick is knowing the difference between something you could use with something you actually will use, and resisting the temptation to just buy it anyway because it's so freaking cheap that who cares anyway?.
Easier said than done.
Critical Shopper: Flying Tiger Copenhagen: Where All That Glitters Is … Glitter By Molly Young (NYTimes)
Flying Tiger Copenhagen 929 Broadway between 20th & 21st Streets, Flatiron District
At some point, the city will thaw out, the disgusting, weeks-old slabs of snow on the side streets will melt away and it will be summer at which point, New Yorkers will discover a huge new Bonobos store on Fifth Avenue and 17th Street. The New York Post is reporting that the fit-obsessed menswear brand has signed on for 4,000 square feet at 95 Fifth Avenue for a new store expected to open in June, which would suggest that it is taking over the Kenneth Cole store that has made its home there for several years.
This will be the label's third New York "Guideshop" including its first showroom at the company headquarters nearby on 25th Street, and its more public Crosby Street outpost, but at 4,000 square feet, it will be a dramatically bigger flagship than any of the other 14 stores it runs. Typically, a Bonobos guideshop carries almost no merchandise to sell in person, but plenty of sizes and stock for customers to try on and order, a concept that stems from the brand's beginnings as a resource offering several different trouser models to insure a perfect fit. It's a counter-intuitive way to run a retail store —more of a showroom, really. The brand's success over the past few years has allowed the company to expand into more varied product categories, and, as Bonobos CEO and founder Andy Dunn tells the Post, “This Fifth Avenue Guideshop is our first real flagship. This will really expose our customer to the breadth of assortment we have [in] tailored clothing, shirts, suits, outerwear.” In fact, suit and shirts have now eclipsed the famous pants in the company's product offerings, and, with a store about four times the size of its usual ones, one wonders if Bonobos may finally give in and stock the store with cash and carry merchandise —especially since it will be cheek by jowl with J.Crew, Banana Republic and a host of other clothing stores on one of Manhattan's busiest retail corridors. Even though Summer seems like it will never happen, June is only a mere three months away, so we will find out soon if this flagship will show that Bonobos is ready to open a more traditional retail store.
A couple of years ago, The Shophound was invited to some press previews for retailer Eddie Bauer which was trying to revamp itself after a bankruptcy that closed its large but dull Manhattan stores along with many others around the country. As it usually does at such events, the merchandise looked fresh and appealing, and we wondered how long it would be before Eddie Bauer could bring its new self back to the city.
About four years, apparently.
This week, the Seattle based chain came back to New York with a 1,500 square foot store at Fifth Avenue and 15th Street where a Bebe unit once stood. People who remember the bland Eddie Bauer stores in SoHo and Midtown that closed during the last decade should be pleasantly surprised at the new version of the brand which is really more like more like the original version. In its re-invention, the company went back to its roots as an outfitter and a pioneer in down-filled outerwear. Gone are the tables and racks of watered down khakis and pullovers. In their place you'll find some robust flannel shirts and apparel designed to withstand more serious expeditions. The store that just opened is not in its permanent incarnation, however. It will remain open through Valentine's Day when it will shut down for a full renovation that will take it to 4,000 square feet to showcase the brand's full range of product. For the moment, it is showcasing a capsule of the brand's best merchandise including it's burgeoning shoe collection, but the highlight here is the outerwear, which has been the revamped brand's greatest strength under the proprietary First Ascent label. There are plenty of down jackets, but smartly designed with functional details and eye catching designs that separate them from your basic Michelin Man puffer. The new Eddie Bauer is positioned to compete with Patagonia, L.L.Bean and The North Face, but now it has the heritage based credibility that it had been ignoring in its previous quest for mass-market domination. When it reopens later next year, we should see more of the bags and accessories as well as the fishing, expedition and camping gear that brought the brand its initial success. In the meantime, it's the perfect place to pick up a brightly colored micro-weight down vest to slip under your coat for when the Polar Vortex decides to visit us again this winter.
Eddie Bauer 100 Fifth Avenue at 15th Street, Flatiron District
Don't Call It A Comeback: Eddie Bauer Revamps And Upgrades For Fall 2011
Eddie Bauer Charges Ahead With A New Look for Spring
It has taken a while, but the building formerly know as the International Toy Center will finally have an actual toy store in it. The LEGO Store that has been under construction for much of this year is reported to be preparing for a soft opening tomorrow at 11 AM at 200 Fifth Avenue. When The Shophound peeked inside last week (pictured above), it seemed clear that an opening was not too far off. While there has been a small Lego store in Rockefeller Center for several years, this location is designed to be more of a flagship, and the 7,703 square foot store will offer a fuller range of Lego products as well as the popular Pick-A-Brick feature that lets shoppers purchase that exact piece they need. Weary grown-ups will also have a lounge to relax in while their younger charges run rampant through the store. As with every Lego store, the decor will consist mostly of great big Lego sculptures which you can see being assembled in the picture above, including interpretations of many famous New York City sights with the company mascot, Brickley the Dragon, snaking his way around the displays. The store is flanked by Marimekko's flagship and Eataly's two entrances, making this corner one of the city's tastiest and most colorful. A more official Grand Opening celebration will take place in a couple of weeks over Columbus Day weekend, so prepare for some special events and celebrations at the corner where 23rd Street, Fifth Avenue and Broadway intersect.
Lego’s Flagship Store to Soft Open This Week (Commercial Observer)
Is Fashion Week too glamorous for you?
Are you feeling like you want to rummage through some bins for a bargain sneaker?
Well, then, The Paragon Warehouse Sale is for you. The Shophound stopped by the sale yesterday, and as you can see from the photo above, it was a big hot messy cluster∫#¢&.
You won't find the cool sneakers in the piles arranged by size which take up most of the sale space, but you might find the perfect pair for the gym, soccer pitch or wrestling mat that you have been looking for. Paragon is after all a fairly serious sports outfitter, so the products available can be rather specialized. We also saw a moderate selection of tennis rackets, fishing rods, backpacks and other, various paraphernalia that you may or may not be excited about finding at a discount. Swimwear and other apparel was abundant in some cases, but overall, pretty random (read: nothing we wanted in our size). Our only real advice is to bring patience, sharp elbows and a finely honed sixth sense.
Good luck sports fans!
Paragon Sports Warehouse Sale through September 23 at 867 Broadway, entrance on 18th St., Flatiron District
For nearly 75 Years, the immense building at 200 Fifth Avenue was well known as the International Toy Center, one of several buildings around the intersections of Fifth Avenue, Broadway and 23rd Street that formed a Toy District of sorts including the headquarters of most well known toy and game companies. When the central building was repositioned as a prestige office building in 2009, the toy companies that hadn't already decamped for other neighborhoods dispersed, and now, the building is better known as the home of Italian cuisine superstore Eataly and a Marimekko boutique, but a reminder of the building's true heritage is set to appear soon. This Summer, Lego will open a major flagship in the building's corner store space (pictured above). Though there is a smallish Lego store just off Rockefeller Center's Channel Gardens, this unit will encompass 3,535 square feet for retail plus another 481square feet for a reading and play space. Now the beloved toy brand will have enough room to present a much broader assortment from its vast product range along with, in all likelihood, a few of its signature, oversized fantasy and architectural constructions. A soft opening is planned for mid-July, with an entire weekend in August set aside for a Grand Opening celebration that's bound to be be a must-attend event for kids all over the city. From the looks of a peek inside earlier today, Lego has its work cut out for it for the next couple of months, but that should give you plenty of time to plan a trip there later this Summer with your favorite Lego-loving kid (or grownup)
There was a perfectly manageable number of people waiting at 260 Fifth Avenue to get into the Gant Warehouse Sale at 9 AM today, especially considering that it was a once again frigid February morning. This is the second big Gant sale this season, and the first time the brand has staged a post-season warehouse sale. If you are a non sample size Gant fan, this is the sale you have been waiting for. There is a fairly even distribution of the Gant, Gant Rugger and Gant by Michael Bastian labels, and, for now, sizes range from XS to XXL —though there appeared to be more selection in the smaller sizes. It appears that the merchandise is mostly from the Fall 2013 collections, and much of it looks like it came from the Gant and Gant Rugger stores which have ended their clearance sales. Unlike the Gant sample sales we are accustomed to, the prices are not by category, but a simple 70% off the retail price tags, so bring a calculator. This may make the prices come in just a bit higher than at the sample sales of past seasons, but, for the most part, it's still a great value (that means that, for example, the signature Gant by Michael Bastian skinny cargo pants are $67.50 down from $225). The set-up is also more open, with only single level racks arranged by size (as seen in the gallery above). There was a substantial shoe table, and a fairly small women's section in the back.
The sale lasts through Sunday, so we expect that there will have to be some replenishment throughout the week. Will there be further reductions? Nobody was promising anything, but we would be surprised if it didn't go to 75% or maybe 80% before the end of the weekend if you want to wait it out. Overall, for those who were disappointed by the limited selection at last Fall's Sample Sale, it's worth stopping by, especially if there are any special items you have had your eye on.
See our SALE ROLL at left for more details and other breaking sale listings.