The Critical Shopper is still alive in today's Thursday Styles after a three week hiatus. This week, Jon Caramanica alerts us to a pair of stores in SoHo that have quietly opened on what is apparently an "inhospitable" block of Greene Street. We didn't know that SoHo had an inhospitable block, but perhaps this is his way of saying that The Real McCoy's and Blue in Green both imports from Japan, are not meant for the high profile, brand building spotlight of Broadway or even Prince and Spring Streets. They are for connoisseurs, and to prove it, our shopper takes a pre-emptive prelude to the Kinokuniya bookstore in Midtown to visit its stock of men's fashion magazines peculiar to Japan which are obsessively focused on the arcane details of American workwear and vintage denim.
"Oh no," The Shophound thought, "More heritage stuff." Yes, the menswear "Heritage Brand" movement of the past few years has revived many a dormant brand and revived domestic apparel production on an encouraging level, but, as it has crested, it has also become something of a creative rabbit hole that put its biggest fans at risk of becoming walking archival projects. It's no wonder that current trends center around athletic wear, the most technologically advanced fashion category, as if everyone suddenly realized that that stiff down-to-the-last-stitch replica of a 1940s work jacket would never actually be comfortable or flattering and looked to the future. Still, taken in moderation, Heritage fashion does have its charms, and The Real McCoy is just that kind of place where you can spend hundreds of dollars on a pedigreed pair of jeans with the consistency of cardboard. "I tried on the narrowest fit, which was still wide enough to hide ankle weights. A salesclerk said that he once drew blood trying them on, and it was by no means clear if he was joking," he tells us, and we can just picture delightful process of braking them in over the course of... how long? A year? Two years? Next door, however is Blue in Green the sibling shop, a multi-brand store with a less rigid sense of historical verisimilitude that actually gave birth to and spun off The Real McCoys. Our shopper is particularly taken with its stock of the Japanese label Kapital.
If everyone in the world had to live in Berkeley, this would be the clothing of the elite. One denim shirt had colorful embroidered cats, and there was a phenomenally formless coat made of melton wool that was able to be worn at least four different ways ($1,120), at least during the five minutes I indulged in wearing it around the store.
So, still, not quite the store for every guy, but tucked away in SoHo exactly where it's adventurous customers are most likely to find it.
Critical Shopper: For the Hard Work of Looking Good By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Blue in Green 8 Greene Street
The Real McCoy's 10 Greene Street both between Canal & Grand Streets, SoHo