WEST VILLAGE INS & OUTS:

Paul Smith Is In
Mulberry, Black Fleece & Marc Jacobs Men's Are Out On Bleecker

BleeckerPaulSmith
Remember when Bleecker Street was such a hot retail address that the older stores were being pushed out and replaced with new designer boutiques at a breakneck pace?
Well, that's over.
As luxury labels retrench in the face of economic uncertainty, Bleecker street is suddenly looking less like a hotspot and more like a tony neighborhood in a holding pattern, perhaps a couple of years behind the neighboring Meatpacking District where once precious retail space is now available in greater abundance. Since the Holiday season, A few more Bleecker Street storefronts have gone empty. Mulberry has quietly exited its outpost at 387 Bleecker leaving it with larger stores on both Madison Avenue and Spring Street in SoHo. Perhaps a tiny store that benefited from Bleecker Street's hotspot-of-the-moment glamor is no longer such an imperative when there are other bigger stores in more heavily trafficked neighborhoods with more potential for sales volume and brand visibility.
Mulberry is not the only company reconsidering its retail strategies. Marc Jacobs is in still the midst of re-inventing his own label. Since the Marc by Marc Jacobs label that made up most of his Bleecker Street stores' offerings has been discontinued, his West Village colony of shops is in a transition of its own. It was always a kind of free-flowing arrangement with stores regularly switching places. With Want Les Essentials de la Vie having already having taken over one of the designer's former shops, the latest branch to bite to the dust is the teeny tiny men's store whose windows are now blacked out. That leaves Jacobs with only his original shop at 403/405 Bleecker, Bookmarc across the street at #400 and the beauty store at #385, which is still a strong showing, but we are still wondering how things will settle retail wise for Marc. His men's store has always been problematic. Having bounced around from one of Jacobs' West Village locations to another, it always seemed to wind up in the same stall-like space that could only hold a few customers at a time and seemed like a poor setting for one of America's premier designers to present his collections. Part of this probably results from the fact that Jacobs has been candid over the years about his personal disinterest in menswear as a designer. He rarely if ever wears his own brand, preferring more attention getting outfits from labels like Comme des Garçons and most recently being very vocal about buying copious amounts of Alessandro Michele's first Gucci collection. His lack of interest is reflected at retail where the label has little traction in menswear, and industry watchers are wondering if the men's division has many more seasons left at all without stronger direction. Closing its store couldn't be seen as a sign of faith in the division.
While once it was incredibly difficult for a retailer to even acquire a space on Bleecker Street in its most desirable stretch between Christoper Street and Hudson Street, now a prospective retailer has something of a selection. Since Brooks Brothers has sadly discontinued its Thom Browne designed Black Fleece collection, its boutique at 351 Bleecker at the corner of West 10th Street has also been shuttered leaving another prime spot open, and more space at 345 Bleecker will be available soon as Comptoir des Cotonniers has posted a closing notice in the window of its unit there. In addition, the empty where the neighborhood favorite Manatus Restaurant once served up classic diner fare is still empty after it was forced out nearly two years ago in hopes of attracting a higher paying tenant who has yet to show up.
It's not all bad news, however. As promised, Paul Smith has opened up a temporary store at 357 Bleecker Street (pictured above) to replace his original Flatiron store. As reported, it's smaller than the shuttered  lower Fifth Avenue boutique, but Smith promises a bigger permanent unit on the way. So far the store is only carrying early Spring deliveries heavy on his lower priced label, PS. Perhaps even after a more impressive space  presents itself, Smith, who has also streamlined his profusion of labels, should consider hanging on to the Bleecker Street store as a PS-only shop. It would fit in perfectly with the street's more recent focus on slightly more accessible designer labels, and it would fill up a shop that might otherwise not find a tenant a swiftly as it might have a few years ago.

Previously:
Paul Smith Is Leaving Flatiron For Bleecker Street. . . For Now

See a gallery of closing notices after the jump.

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Paul Smith Is In
Mulberry, Black Fleece & Marc Jacobs Men's Are Out On Bleecker
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FOND FAREWELL:

Kitchen Cult Store Broadway Panhandler To Close This Year

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Some things just aren't meant to last forever.
While we have become accustomed to hearing about beloved independent retailers forced to close after exorbitant rent hikes or predatory competition, Broadway Panhandler will close its doors sometime this spring for a less painful reason: retirement. Store owner Norman Kornbleuth is 72 years old, and has simply reached the point where he is ready to wind the business down. Since his children are not interested in carrying on the business, and his attempts to sell the store have proved fruitless, Mr. Kornbleuth will shutter it when he decides the time has come. “We were never just about housewares,” he tells the Times' Florence Fabricant. “With my background, we could continue to sell equipment to restaurants.” Originally opened in SoHo about 40 years ago, Broadway Panhandler migrated from its namesake address in 1995 to Broome Street and then again up to East 8th Street in 2o6. Through the years, Kornbleuth developed a destination for chefs, celebrities and celebrity chefs alike thanks to the kind of personal service that is hard to replicate outside independent stores. Despite heavy competition from upscale chains like Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table and even discount laden Bed Bath & Beyond, the store thrived with most of the same top brands they carried plus more arcane fare and more exclusive suppliers. The store has been known as the first stop for obscure cooking items that are easily overlooked by bigger chains. Most notable was the extensive knife counter with a selection tough to match in the city. Culinary minded New Yorkers will still have independent stores like Whisk and Bowery Kitchen Supply in Chelsea Market to look to, but it will be tough for them to match the wide selection and depth of expertise that made Broadway Panhandler a mainstay.

Broadway Panhandler, Longtime Manhattan Cookware Retailer, to Close in Spring By Florence Fabricant (NYTimes)


COURSE CORRECTION BLOODBATH:

Macy's Is Closing 40 Stores & Planning Off-Price Outlets Inside Existing Stores

MacysHSIs it really such a big deal to close 40 stores if you have 773 of them?
Maybe not. After all, it's less than 10% of the Macy's store count, but it just goes to show that the kind of course correction that might be seen as relatively innocuous for another company becomes an event of a completely different scale when you are the 800 (or possibly 773) pound gorilla of the department store industry.
In fact, 40 stores is substantially bigger than most of the regional chains that have been absorbed over the years by what is now known as Macy's Inc. The mega-chain didn't get that big organically. It is the result of individual acquisitions like the Bamburger's chain once well expanded through the Mid-Atlantic region, but more importantly mergers with larger consolidated retailers that operated many individual nameplates. The current chain includes the remnants of former retail giants Allied Stores, Federated Department Stores and May Company which have ultimately put Macy's in every major market in America.
One could argue that despite pruning its fleet less dramatically over the years, those mergers and acquisitions have still left Macy's over-stored. In many cases acquired stores in the same mall as an existing location have been converted to separate Home or Menswear units and in at least one case, Tyson's Corner Virginia, there are two full Macy's stores literally across the street from each other in competing malls. Both of those stores are remaining open, a testament to the strength of that particular market where elsewhere it would be clearly redundant.
Three to four sales jobs will be cut from each of Macy's existing stores —which doesn't do much to respond to the recurring complaint that it is hard to find a salesperson in Macy's. That will still be a whopping loss of about 3,000 jobs. In addition only about 30% of retiring or voluntarily departing senior executives will be replaced, and about 600 back office jobs will be eliminated with 450 of those workers being laid off permanently rather than reassigned within the company. The total job loss is expected to be about 3,500 positions.
All of this is a response to a 4.7% decide in sales over the past few months which was higher than predicted. It is almost certain that the extremely unseasonably warm weather in most of the United States over the Fall season has contributed to the drop.
“In light of our disappointing 2015 sales and earnings performance, we are making adjustments to become more efficient and productive in our operations," says Macy's Chairman and CEO Terry J. Lundgren in a press release issued yesterday outlining the chain's strategy, "Moreover, we believe we can operate more effectively with an organization that is flatter and more agile so we can pursue growth and regain market share in our core Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s omnichannel businesses faster and with more intensity."
It's not all grim news, however. Three new Macy's stores and Two Bloomingdale's branches are set to open by Fall 2018, but more interestingly, the Macy's Backstage format, a budding off-price chain meant to compete with Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off-5th and the like, is set to grow with 50 new units, most of which will be opening within existing Macy's stores rather than as freestanding entities.
We remind ourselves that 50 stores is only a fraction of the 733 stores that will remain after the store culling, but it means that an off-price or clearance department will become a permanent fixture in some of the chain's full-line stores. What will this be like, and how will it affect the chain's full-price selling and its typically heavy promotional activity? Also unknown is how the chain's key vendors will feel about having to compete with discounted merchandise in the same store that normally would have been diverted to other channels after seasonal clearance sales. That will be very interesting to see unfold as, traditionally, most other chains have chosen to at least keep their outlet stores in separate buildings, though they have been losing in on their full-line mothership locations in recent years. We are reminded that Filene's Basement began literally in the basement of the flagship Filene's department store in Downtown Boston. Though it was eventually spun off into a separate company, it ultimately lasted longer than its namesake progenitor. Do we dare draw comparisons?

Macy’s, Inc. Outlines Cost Efficiency Initiatives and Lists Store Locations to Be Closed (Press Release)


IMPENDING DOOM:

Patricia Field To Close Her Store After Nearly 50 Years

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It's hard to imagine Downtown New York without a Patricia Field store, but we will have to get used to the idea next Spring when the ageless, flame-haired fashion fixture will shutter her eponymous boutique. When she closes the store, it will have been just about 50 years since its founding in the West Village in swinging 1966. The store settled on East 8th Street in 1971 and remained there to wardrobe flamboyant dressers and clubgoers through the eras of Studio 54, Area, Pyramid, Palladium, Twilo, Jackie 60, and beyond. In 2006, she moved her store to the still-gritty Bowery, and during her decades as a cutting-edge retailer, Field has supported many an outrageous indie designer, launched her own House of Field label and provided day jobs and nighttime outfits to more fierce ruling New York drag queens than we could begin to count. Hers has been a store like no other —a funky and fantastical celebration of style for customers who have been fearless, eclectic and just a bit kinky. It's the kind of place you can count on if you have decided that you needed a pair of  shiny patent leather leggings, a crystal festooned showgirl outfit, or maybe just another feather boa. When Field started garnering acclaim for designing costumes for Sex and the City, her store became something of a tourist attraction as well, spawning a satellite store in SoHo The TV and film work she started during the 1980s has only been growing steadily since. Field is not closing the store due to a rent hike or some other real estate pressure. She owns the now highly desirable space herself, but running a retail store for five decades can exhaust even the tireless, and the time she gains will allow her to take advantage of the opportunities that have come her way that she has had to turn down in recent years. We may still see her shopkeeper's touch at the occasional curated pop-up shop like the one currently found at Dover Street Market. “I’m going to miss my clients, the face-to-face time with them, the most. I make people look beautiful and feel happy, and I’ve been fortunate to make a career out of that,” Field tells the New York Daily News. While she will leave a niche that will be very difficult for someone to come and fill, her work as a costume designer, currently for TV Land's Younger and multiple film projects, continues to go strong, and faithful customers can look forward to next Spring when Field will empty out her stockrooms and warehouse for a blowout closing sale that should be as good for people-watching as it will be for bargains, if not better.

‘Sex and the City’ costume designer Patricia Field closing store (NY Daily News)


STOREFRONT SHAKEUP:

Marc Jacobs Eliminated One Of His West Village Stores

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In the midst of realigning his signature label, Marc Jacobs has quietly shuttered one of his West Village stores.
The charming store at the corner of West 4th and Bank Streets (pictured above) ceased operations a few weeks ago. It was most recently a Marc by Marc Jacobs accessories store, but like most of his retail spaces in the neighborhood, it has had several identities of the years including a Men's store, and a Collection accessories store. Of all the designers' shops, this one was the furthest off the beaten path, one block away from the busier Bleecker Street corridor, with only the Little Marc children's' store on the opposite corner of the intersection to drum up traffic.
Still, with its elegant arched windows, the now empty shop remains on of the prettier retail spaces in the neighborhood. So far there's no word on a replacement tenant, and now that rent increase-induced turnover has created an unprecedented amount of available retail space on Bleecker Street, it may take some time for the storefront to be filled.
Earlier this year, Jacobs announced that his contemporary label Marc By Marc Jacobs would be folded into his signature line, causing some inevitable shakeup in his retail network. The designer remains a strong presence in the West Village, however. In addition to the aforementioned children's store, there are still the Marc By Marc Jacobs stores for men and women as well as the cosmetics shop and Bookmarc book store all on Bleecker Street. Presumably, the apparel stores will be rebranded to the main Marc Jacobs line for next spring, but it's not unusual for the designer to have a twist or two up his sleeve, so stay tuned for further developments.


IS THIS THE END?

What's Left Of Band Of Outsiders Will Be Auctioned Off Next Week

Is there another big Band of Outsiders sample sale in the future?
A liquidation sale at the much admired but now defunct label's short lived SoHo store was expected to be its last gasp, but WWD reports that the company's creditor, Belgian fashion fund CLCC SA will be holding a public auction of intellectual property and leftover inventory on July 29th at its offices. That means that the brand could be revived in some way, but probably not involving its founder and designer Scott Sternberg. Reportedly, there are more than 5,000 units of inventory included in the auction, and while they are expected to be auctioned off as a single lot, they are eventually likely to make their way to market in one way or another either in a big sale or trickling through off-price channels which could include retailers like Century 21 or flash sale sites like Gilt or My Habit. In fact, it it not yet know if the what's left of the company will be sold as a single asset including the inventory and the IP or as separate lots. In the best of worlds, someone well financed might relaunch the line and lure Sternberg back to run it, but it is more likely that it may re-appear as a label in a less expensive segment of the market, proving once again that old brands never really die, they just get repurposed somewhere else.

Band of Outsiders’ Intellectual Property, Inventory To Be Auctioned (WWD)


MANDATORY RELOCATION:

Meatpacking District Boutique Owen Forced To Close At Month's End

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New York's ruthless real estate scene has claimed another widely admired store as WWD reports that OWEN, which only opened in 2012, is being forced to close at the end of July due to redevelopment of the Meatpacking District building that houses it. It turns out that the store's lease had run out, but the landlord allowed it run from month to month until plans were confirmed to demolish the entire building at 809 Washington Street and rebuild it. The entire block of 48 Gansevoort Street to 74 Gansevoort Street between Greenwich and Washington Streets is reportedly set for a historic restoration and renovation pending the usual approvals by the Department of Buildings, Community Board 2 and the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Well, at least Owen wasn't forced out by some exorbitant rent increase, but the store is being pushed out nonetheless.
Owner Phillip Salem promises that Owen will return. “I’m going to revamp and relaunch the store. This could be the blessing we need to take the store to the next level,” he tells WWD, and is looking for a new location somewhere downtown. Salem made a name for Owen by focusing on emerging independent designers like Cushnie et Ochs, Jonathan Simkhai, Olcay Gulsen, Tanya Taylor, A.L.C. and Suno to name a few and opened with a striking interior design that featured open paper lunch bags fastened to the walls and ceiling. Those bags will have to come down soon. "On the last day everybody can take a paper bag as a memory," he tells WWD. Hopefully they will reappear in a new space without having to wait for too long. While the boutique is on hiatus, Salem will keep the name alive with the Owen branded handbag line that he has been selling since 2014. In the meantime, Owen fans should be sure to visit the store before it is gone at the end of the month, and grab one of those paper bags for the memories.

Redevelopment in the Meatpacking District Sends Owen Packing (WWD)


EARLY DEPARTURE:

Crate & Barrel Making An Early Exit From Madison Avenue

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We smell a buyout.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Madison Avenue's Crate & Barrel flagship, the chain's first Manhattan store, will close on August 2nd, five years ahead of its lease expiration and about 20 years after its opening. The departure frees up 62,000 square feet of retail space over two floors in the building that is likely to be divided into smaller stores and rented at as much as five times the store's current rates. Crate & Barrel is something of a vestige from the Madison Avenue of the mid-1990s when its stores were more of a mix of retailers. Since then, the street has evolved into a pure luxury district, and while C&B is plenty upscale and presumably did good business there, it probably has a greater opportunity to grow further east or west in Manhattan where it can better catch the segments of its core customer base who are less likely to go to Madison Avenue to shop with them
Unfortunately, the chain does not have a replacement store lined up, and is not expected to open one in the near future, leaving its store at Broadway and Houston Streets as its sole Manhattan location (excluding the CB2 stores in SoHo and on the Upper East Side). "This was a difficult decision and we are grateful to our departing associates for their hard work and service," the company expressed in a statement. "We remain well positioned to serve the New York market through our SoHo store, as well as stores in the surrounding area and through our website."
While Crate & Barrel was astute to realize that by the time lease renewal would come around, its rent at 650 Madison would increase dramatically, it ostensibly has little to gain by closing the store early, as it is still well positioned to take advantage of Upper East Side customers and tourist business. One can only presume that its landlords made a very favorable offer to the store to encourage it to get out quickly so they could maximize  revenue from the building's retail space that much sooner. That would explain the store's abrupt closing without a replacement location in place.
Hopefully, Crate & Barrel will have a new location for the store soon. It could easily be supported on the Upper East or even West Side (or both) not to mention burgeoning Brooklyn. It would certainly help the store's 100 or so employees who will be out of a job come August.

Crate & Barrel to Close Manhattan Flagship Store (Wall Street Journal)


ABRUPT DEPARTURES II:

Kent And Curwen Shutters On Madison

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What was supposed to be a grand relaunch and repositioning of a British heritage brand seems to have quietly fizzled as Kent and Curwen has just closed the flagship boutique it opened at 816 Madison Avenue just last year. Obscured by some unceremonious scaffolding when it opened, it was easy to understand why shoppers might have missed the store that was meant to launch the brand into the U.S. menswear market with creative director Simon Spurr newly installed to update the brand, but now, fully visible, it seems to have closed a couple of weeks ago. Spurr's collections have attracted good press and are currently hanging in Bloomingdales's and Saks Fifth Avenue for the Spring 2015 season as a worthy sequel to his own label from which he had previously separated. Exactly what is happening with the brand for the future seems to be unclear to the casual observer. Though there are still Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for the brand updated as recently as mid-May, the label's own website has vanished and now redirects to its parent company Trinity, part of apparel giant Li & Fung, which also owns venerable menswear brands like Cerruti 1881 and Gieves & Hawkes among others. Though there seems to be no evidence of a Fall 2015 collection to be found online except for a brief video interview with Spurr released by Forbes Magazine a couple of weeks ago, Kent and Curwen is still listed as a participant in the upcoming New York Men's Fashion Week for Spring 2016 set for July, so we aren't quite sure what the plan is for this brand. It seems obvious that a spacious boutique on the most expensive stretches of Madison Avenue was perhaps overkill for a little known English label, so maybe a move to a less rarefied spot downtown is in order? Time will tell, but as Spurr has engineered an appealingly stylish update of the brand for a younger, hipper market, it would be a shame to see it sputter out before it has really had a chance to catch on.


ABRUPT DEPARTURE:

Band Of Outsiders
Appears To Be Shutting Down

BandOfOutsidersFW15Perhaps that big Band Of Outsiders sample sale a few weeks ago was more of an effort to raise funds than just a warehouse clearance. Multiple fashion media sites are reporting that the widely admired decade old label has laid off most of its staff, cancelled Fall 2015 (pictured left) orders and is either closing down completely or undergoing a radical reorganization. 
While no official comment was offered, WWD managed to get ahold of the founder and designer Scott Sternberg who was also non committal. "Nobody knows anything at this point but me," he was quoted as saying, "and I’ve been advised not to comment at this time."

Just last year, the label appeared to be chugging along more than nicely with its first retail store recently opened in Tokyo, and another about to open in SoHo. Exactly what is plaguing the brand remains unclear, and while it appears to be folding, there remains the possibility that the label could be revived under a new business arrangement. The SoHo store is reportedly still open, and the entire industry seems to be awaiting an official announcement.

Band of Outsiders Reportedly Shuttering Business (WWD)