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 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.
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.
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)
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.
Perhaps 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.
We have been hearing about FAO Schwarz's departure from its longtime home in the GM Building on Fifth Avenue for months, years even, but now we have a more definitive date —and it's practically upon us. Bloomberg Business is reporting that the renowned toy store will be shuttering its iconic store sometime in July, well in advance of the end of its lease in 2017 leaving the company without a physical store as it searches for a new flagship. Toys "R" Us Inc, which owns FAO Schwarz, promises that a new store should be open by late 2016, which leaves a long stretch for the company to be without an outlet. Recent rumors have had the company eyeing a large Apple Store-like space in the Paramount Building at 1633 Broadway between 50th and 51st Streets that is best known as the former home of space-age theme restaurant Mars 2112. The building itself is configured similarly to the GM Building with a front plaza and situated just above tourist friendly Times Square which would make the proposed FAO Schwarz store an appropriate replacement for the immense Toys "R" Us store that is also set to depart its home a few blocks downtown.
So far, the only thing that is confirmed is the Fifth Avenue store's impending closure, though a replacement site should be determined so. As for the expansive space in the GM building to be vacated, most speculation has it being subdivided to create a few separate retail spaces, although a big store with deep pockets could come along and take the whole thing. With Apple in front, and a temporary Cartier store on the other side that may become permanent, it will become one of the highest profile unclaimed retail sites in midtown.
FAO Schwarz’s Manhattan Store to Close in July as Rents Rise (BloombergBusiness)
It's an old story, but no less distressing each time it plays out. Pearl River Mart, a SoHo institution famous for inexpensive but often surprisingly stylish Chinese imports, is set to close its store after 44 years of business as its rent on Lower Broadway is set to increase fivefold when the current lease expires at the end of this year. Pearl River currently pays over $100 thousand per month for three levels of shopping over 30,000 square feet, and it has been in the location since 2003, when it moved from a smaller, dustier space at the corner of Canal Street and Broadway. When the store moved to Broadway between Broome and Grand Streets, the trendy shopping district in SoHo ended abruptly at Broome Street. South of that border was mostly relegated to local sneaker and streetwear stores, and bargain resource Pearl River was actually upgrading the neighborhood. Since then, SoHo has become an even hotter destination, and chains like Muji, Topshop, Madewell and CBR to name a few as well as home-grown phenomena like Opening Ceremony have pulled customers south on Broadway sending rents soaring. If you think that a five-fold rent increase after only twelve years is excessive, then you are right, but it shows you how aggressive New York City landlords have become in making sure that they are maximizing revenue from all of their properties regardless of how it affects presumably good tenants.
As of yet, Pearl River does not have a replacement location lined up, and, according to Crain's, and will shift its business to an online platform. The building's owner claims to still be negotiating with Pearl River to remain, perhaps on upper floors, but the store's owners are looking to head closer to its origins in Chinatown, possibly to space below Canal Street where the rent would be in the $90 per square foot range. Still, leaving its now lavishly spacious digs on Broadway will likely mean that the store will have to trim its inventory of over 17,000 different items. Hopefully, Pearl River won't have to move too far away. Once a best kept secret of fashion stylists and downtowners, many Manhattanites have found themselves exploring the vast offerings there while stocking up on basic kitchen items or bamboo chopsticks or classic but affordable blue and white planters or any number of other popular items of Asian origin. It's one of those places you don't find everywhere that makes shopping in New York that much more special.
The month isn't over yet, so there's at least one more bit of retail reorganization to be executed before we pass into February. Kate Spade has announced that it will be closing all of its Jack Spade and Kate Spade Saturday stores in the first half of 2015 as it will be folding the Saturday line back into the flagship collection and focusing Jack Spade on wholesale and online selling. A total of 28 stores will be closed including 16 Saturday and 12 Jack Spade locations, so here in New York we will have to say goodbye to the Saturday store on Spring Street as well as the original Jack Spade on Greene Street in SoHo where the men's brand was launched and the Bleecker Street store which was extensively renovated less than a year ago.
It must be noted that though the Saturday brand, an attempt to launch a more casual, lower priced offshoot, will apparently be discontinued, Jack Spade, the men's counterpart to the Kate Spade label, will remain in operation under a modified business model and available through stores like Saks fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's among others. In fact, the brand is being expanded to include tailored clothing and dress furnishings, categories which, according to Kate Spade & Co. executives, are more favorably grown through wholesale strategies. Closing dates have not yet been announced, but before you get too excited about imminent store closing sales it sounds the stores will operate relatively normally through most of the Spring season before closing sales —if any—begin. Still, keep your ears to the ground. All of the New York stores are in highly desirable locations, particularly Bleecker Street (pictured above), so there may be pressure to turn over those leases to eager new tenants sooner rather than later.
Kate Spade to Wind Down Kate Spade Saturday, Jack Spade Stores (Wall Street Journal)
Yes, January's reign of terror on floundering retail ventures has not quite finished.
The Gap's contemporary women's web retailer Pimerlime is being shuttered along with its sole retail store in SoHo. Launched in 2006 as a footwear site for men and women meant to compete with Zappos, Piperlime transitioned to a women's contemporary focus after a few years, but never gained enough traction to expand beyond a the single retail door at 121 Wooster street in SoHo that is reported to be closing by the end of February. The website will cease operations by the end of March. Incoming Gap CEO Art Peck is said to be planning more sweeping changes, but so fat, this seems to be is most drastic move, and he isn't supposed to officially start until next month. Still, the division has yet to cross the $100 million threshold in sales, and, to an incoming boss, it must have seemed redundant next to the more successful, upper contemporary chain Intermix, which is now owned by Gap.
So, you can probably look for some good store closing deals at the SoHo Piperlime, though one suspects that most of the store's Spring deliveries have been cancelled at this point. What we can look for are more changes at Gap's various divisions. Banana Republic is just starting to see the influence of its new creative director, Marissa Webb, but the struggling flagship Gap chain is still due for a fix, after a 5% drop in sales over the Holiday season, so expect some dramatic news there soon.