Last month, The Shophound discovered that Marc Jacobs had quietly closed one of his colony of stores in the West Vilage (above left) with little sign of who would take over the lovely little shop on the corner of West 4th and Bank Streets. This week the New York Times solved that mystery when it announced that the widely admired cult accessory brand Want Les Essentials de la Vie will open its first standalone boutique next month in the West Village, accompanied by a photograph of the label's founders, identical twins Byron Peart and Dexter Peart standing in front of the unmistakable arched windows of the former Jacobs store (above right).
Now that we know that one of the prettiest storefronts in the neighborhood won't be dark for long, we can look forward to the opening of the Montreal-based brand's new boutique. The label's steady rise over the past nine years is chronicled in the Times article, which indicated that while the shop will stock both men's and women's complete Want collections, including the new men's shoe line, it will also, as is the current vogue among independent designers, carry items from other vendors including apparel from Comme des Garçons Forever and objects by Viennese designer Carl Auböck.
There's no specific opening date announced for the Want store, but as the Jacobs store was previously set up as an accessory shop, and it is not a huge space, an opening in October seems quite reasonable, and it will add to what is turning out to be one of the best seasons of new store opening s that we have seen in some time.
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.
Today's Thursday Styles features Critical Shopper Molly Young's trip to a store that sounds vaguely like others that have come before it and others that will probably come after. At Calliope, each item is carefully chosen and tagged by hand to make a perfectly curated array of very special merchandise. Its owners describe themselves as "Purveyors of things we like", and, as such, they join a host of New York shopkeepers, some wildly successful, others less so, who open stores not as a means of creating income, but more as a creative expression of their own rarefied tastes. New York City's retail scene would be nothing without these merchants. Sometimes they are relatively innocuous neighborhood stores that last no more than a few years, and sometimes they wind up as influential players like Geraldine Stutz's legendary Henri Bendel of the 1970s and 80s (back when it was still at 10 West 57th Street) or today's Kirna Zabête or Odin. The ones that succeed propel shopping forward. It's hard to know where Calliope falls on this spectrum, but one thing is for sure: Molly Young is over it.
As pleasant as all the refinement was, it did not have much effect on my pulse. I wandered the store, poking at my brain and senses to react, but they couldn’t engage. I am simply not curious about the type of person who finds her personality reflected in a Brazilian quartz crystal to the degree that she is willing to pay $410 for it. Shopping can be a gesture of self-expression, but it can also be a lapse in critical thinking.
The Thursday Styes —and the Sunday Styles and T Magazine for that matter— probably wouldn't exist if it weren't for $410 Brazilian quartz crystals and the people who find their personalities reflected in them or some other equally extravagant item. New York is full of stores stuffed to the rafters with things that cost way too much, and while it seems easy to turn ones nose up at all of the people who buy the stuff in them —and there are always more than you think there are— if it weren't for them, there wouldn't be much for the Critical Shopper to write about at all.
Critical Shopper: At Calliope, Beautiful Things for Beautiful, Moneyed People By Molly Young (NYTimes)
Calliope 349 West 12th Street between Washington & Greenwich Streets, West Village
This week's Thursday Styles features Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica's discovery of Craft Atlantic's Greenwich Avenue boutique in the West Village —no easy task as the shop has been obscured by scaffolding for a good portion of its brief existence. Perhaps apropos of this, our shopper takes a while to get to the meat of his story this week, opening with a breakdown of sorts of the current menswear fascination with humble basics once thought relegated to the gymnasium, simple sneakers, tees and sweats. After dropping the names of a few currently admired practitioners, he finally turns his attention to Craft Atlantic, which he places in the center of this trend, extolling the subtle, travel-inspired details featured on the store's self branded goods.
Our shopper likes it, even if he isn't quite swooning, and is at least sold on the carefully tweaked neckline on a simple tee. "In fact, shopping solely from here may ensure that you don’t stand out at all. Given this, it’s important to remember that the new basics are in actuality a test. Think how easy it is to get credit for flamboyance."
If this doesn't sound like a breathless endorsement, look at it this way: Being a stylish gentleman doesn't mean chasing down every whim of the ever more creative but sometimes ill-advised men's fashion set. The Shophound has been to Craft Atlantic, and we must say that it is the kind of place where the connoisseur will find beautifully detailed basics to admire and buy —they are still the backbone of any well-dressed guy's wardrobe— and also the kind of place where the well-meaning but less confident guy who wants to look up-to-date can rest assured that he can't go too far wrong. Call it a gateway shop for guys who aren't quite ready to navigate slightly more directional stores like Odin or Carson Street Clothiers on their own, playing a vital role in the ongoing effort to get more guys who might otherwise be indifferent to dress better.
Critical Shopper: Craft Atlantic Puts Modesty on Display, With Surprises By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Craft Atlantic 115 Greenwich Avenue at Jane Street, West Village
It's possible that you might not have noticed that the celebrated food market and exclusive restaurant Brooklyn Fare has been operating a Manhattan location on West 37th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. it is not a well traveled location, and that location's promised restaurant —the real draw— has yet to materialize. That makes it a fancy market in a neighborhood that might not have gotten fancy enough yet to properly support it. That shouldn't be a problem at Brooklyn Fare's next reported location. The Observer tells us that the market will take over the D'Agostino in The Archive at 666 Greenwich Street in the West Village (above). There's no opening date projected for when it will open in the 12,000 square foot space, but this time, it should have no problem attracting attention in a prominent location in an established, tony neighborhood. The real draw here, however, will be another potential restaurant. There's no shortage of fancy food stores in Manhattan, and there might be some serious complaints that the neighborhood will be losing a much needed basic supermarket. D'Agostino reportedly lost the lease through a Hurricane Sandy related paperwork misfortune that was resolved in court, so the replacement is not without some controversy.
What distinguishes the original Brooklyn Fare at the corner of Hoyt and Schermerhorn in Brooklyn is the 18-seat, Michelin Starred Chef's Table restaurant, which only books six weeks in advance exclusively for parties of two or four. The prix-fixe menu is $225 plus tax and a 20% service fee, so such a restaurant should be right at home in the West Village. Otherwise, the retail store is a very nice gourmet market, but not terribly different from many that are already operating all over Manhattan. One might even hope that a larger restaurant than the limited Brooklyn version could be in the works, but so far there has been no official word at all of just what is planned for the new location, so we will have to stay tuned for more definitive news.
Brooklyn Fare Opening Second Manhattan Location (Commercial Observer)
Greenwich Village's fabled charm is getting squeezed away block by block. Avignone Chemists, a bright, stalwart Village fixture at the corner of Bleecker Street and Sixth Avenue since 1929, is closing to avoid a tripling of its monthly rent.
This is not surprising news, sadly, but it begs the question: Is there any future for a charming independently owned retail establishment in a nice neighborhood? Avignone's impending closure follows similar stories about beloved neighborhood haunts like the now closed Manatus Restaurant on Bleecker and Bonnie Slotnick's famous cookbook store being pushed out by landlords (usually brand new ones) who are swift to kick out longtime tenants in favor of potentially finding higher paying tenants —even if that means months or even years of empty storefronts before such a tenant is found. Slotnick's small but unique business was saved at the last minute by a fan who happened to be willing to rent her a suitable space at a suitable rate, but most businesses are not so lucky.
Avignone's current owner, Abe Lerner, who has run the store for the past 30 years, claims that his entire block is now owned by one company, Force Capital Management, which seems to think it can find better use for the 1,700 square foot space. "I've spent half my life here," Lerner tells DNAinfo. "I've known many of these people for 30 years; I've seen a lot of kids grow up. A lot of these people have become friends — they're not just customers, they're friends."
Lerner has until April 30th to vacate the space, and while he hopes to move to a new location as close to the old one as possible, though finding an affordable one in the immediate vicinity seems unlikely. Potential tenants at 281 Sixth Avenue are reportedly being offered the space for $60,000 per month. No word yet on any potential takers.
A stroll down Bleecker Street brought some news to The Shophound's eye this afternoon. We had been wondering who was going to wind up in the highly desirable and spacious corner store that Juicy Couture left vacant at no. 368 early last year, and it turns out that longtime Bleecker Street denizen James Perse is moving in (pictured above). Perse has maintained two separate men's and women's stores on Bleecker for several years now, and it is currently unclear whether he will be moving one or both stores into the bigger space, or if he will be using it for another concept entirely. We won't have to wait for long to find out. The windows are promising a February opening.
A few steps uptown, we discovered that Jimmy Choo has abandoned the West Village, for now at least. In its place, however designer Tomas Maier is bringing his second Manhattan store to No. 407 (pictured below). While his first, which opened just a few months ago on Madison Avenue, is well located to serve tourists and stylish East Siders, this new one will be perfectly positioned to bring Maier's laid-back chic to the downtowners who won't travel north of 23rd Street. No opening date has been announce, but it's not a huge store, and we are guessing it will be ready for shoppers sometime in the spring.
Bleecker Street will be a little bit more crowded this weekend as the Marc Jacobs Beauty store will be providing free manicures from Noon to 8 PM starting now until Sunday. See a selection of colors above, and pick the one that suits you best. If Esquire's SoHo Mega-Pop-Up is not your cup of tea, then perhaps this sort of giveaway may be more in your wheelhouse —or go to both! It's the 21st Century after all, and seeing as how Marc is the sort of designer who routinely wears kilts and famously attended the Met Ball in a transparent lace dress, we're pretty sure that a manicure will be offered to any and all comers.
If large parts of Manhattan are suffering from too much available retail real estate, than there are still a few other streets where stores do not sit empty for too long. Bleecker Street between Christopher and Bank Streets in the West Village has been one of them, but even there, a few stores are out of commission or undergoing transition. The theory on this street has recently been that any time a retail space becomes available, Marc Jacobs will swoop in and take it over, but even he may have maxed out on the West Village as his company turns its eye to larger stores in other Manhattan neighborhoods. There are some spaces coming up that Marc may not be as quick to absorb. For starters, the glamorous Jean-Michel Cazabat shoe boutique is now an ASH shoes sale pop-up store.
Is Cazabat out of business?
You can still buy his shoes at Barneys and other stores, but you may notice that his prices have jumped. The designer has moved his production back to Italy from China, which also pushed him back into the luxury category, precipitating a split from his backers who also own the Ash brand and have smoothly moved it into the Bleecker Street space —for the moment, at least.
Corporate changes have had an effect on several other Bleecker Street stores as well. Kurt Geiger's management has bought the company out from parent Jones Group which is currently being dismantled piece by piece, so that shoe store has remained in place. Juicy Couture, however, has been sold and and has exited its sizable store (pictured below) which remains under the control of former parent Kate Spade & Co. (formerly Fifth & Pacific, formerly Liz Claiborne & Co.). Will Kate move in? It seems like too good of a space to pass up, but for now, the sign in the window says the empty store is available. A few blocks away, brother shop Jack Spade is covered in green painted plywood, but its website lists it as temporarily under renovation, so we expect it to return soon enough.
Sadly, one well liked store seems to be gone from Bleecker for good. Freeman's Sporting Club appears to have exited its store at no. 343. Though it is still listed on the website, the shop is empty and available. FSC had a challenging time in the West Village. It's first location on the corner of Bleecker and Christopher streets had to be moved with little notice shortly after opening when the building was declared structurally unsafe —always a bummer. Happily, the store was able to swiftly move half a block to 343 where a temporary store eventually became a permanent outpost. That space, however, is now empty and available. East of Christopher Street, there are more vacancies including the former J.A.C.H.S. boutique*. J.Press York Street sells a label which is reportedly being discontinued by the uber-traditional menswear retailer. Will J.Press fill it with a selection from its classic assortments this Fall? As its flagship is still under an extended renovation, it would give its loyal New York customers a local place to shop the brand albeit in an inconvenient location, though it's more likely that the space will be marketed to other retailers. How long some of these spaces take to be filled will say a lot about Bleecker Street's status to retailers in the coming months. If the are leased quickly, then the stretch remains near the top of Manhattan's most desirable shopping locations, but if we start to see the kind of vacancies that are plaguing the Upper East Side and the nearby Meatpacking District, then Bleecker's heyday may be coming to an end. Have a look as some of these storefronts in the gallery below.
*Correction: The J.A.C.H.S. Store is not in fact closed and is open for business. We mistook it for different empty store on the same block.
An exclusive French fragrance brand is coming to Bleecker Street, and, in a rare state of affairs, it isn't kicking out another store to do it. Annick Goutal, is opening a store in a 900 square-foot space at 397 Bleecker right next to Bond No.9 that hasn't housed a retail store since the early 20th Century. Up until now, it has been one of a few residential townhouse spaces that have broken up the string of shops on Bleecker. The skyrocketing value of retail real estate on that precious section of Bleecker Street has sparked a conversion of some of those ground floors with more likely to follow. About half of the townhouses there between 11th and Perry Streets have no retail space making a substantial shop-free stretch on the eastern side of the block —but perhaps not for long. You can compare the before (below) and after (above) views and see that the old-fashioned storefront for the shop is actually brand new construction, and it is likely that we will see more similar conversions in neighboring buildings as apartment leases come up for renewal.
Back to the new store that is being finished, it is reported to be Annick Goutal's first in the United States. Until now the brand (now owned by Amore Pacific) has been available through luxury stores like Barneys and Bergdorf's (though we vaguely remember a Madison Avenue shop sometime in the 1990s). Copyright lawyers will remember the label for beating a lawsuit from Elizabeth Taylor over the "Passion" trademark in a conflict that ended up legally delineating the difference between the "luxury" retailers who sold Goutal and the mass market chains that would be selling Taylor's brand. Old copyright issuse aside, Annick Goutal will be joining Nars, Diptyque, M.A.C., Jo Malone, Marc Jacobs Cosmetics and the aforementioned Bond No.9 in creating an increasing presence for fragrance and beauty on this particular, ever-evolving West Village strip. The store is expected to open in the Spring and is promising special Grand Opening invitations for those who log on to the Annick Goutal website or scan the QR code on the store's front door (pictured at left)
Annick Goutal (Official Site)