The Pop-Up Flea Makes A Spring Appearance Next Month

PUFSUN_Square-1For those of you tired of scrounging around sample sales for menswear inspiration, mark your calendars for next weekend when the now bi-annual favorite, The Pop-Up Flea makes it's spring appearance at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. The collection of heritage, artisanal and just plain great quality brands will include some of the old favorites we have become accustomed to rediscovering like Alexander OlchFred Perry Laurel WreathErnest AlexanderLeather Head SportsRancourt & CoFreemans Sporting Club and TUDOR along with some fresh entrants to add some new blood to the proceedings just in case you have enough handmade raw leather belts. look for Dom VetroCorridorCanvas Bag MachineMartenero and Accompany to liven up the place. A full roster of participants will be published soon, but in the meantime, be sure to pick a time next weekend, after you have taken care of any Mothers' Day obligations to do some more shopping for yourself. See all the current details below.


SoHo Fraternal Twins Edition

13zCRITICAL5-articleLargeThe 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


Original Penguin's New NoHo Flagship Launches The Brand's Next Phase

It may have seemed like a simple relocation when Original Penguin moved its SoHo boutique a few blocks North to Broadway and Bond Street, but there's a little bit more to it than that. Yesterday afternoon, The Shophound was invited downtown to see how a charming, vintage-y label that has done very well by trading on its history of dressing stars like Clint Eastwood and Frank Sinatra for the golf links is ready to evolve into a modern lifestyle sportswear brand with a new store concept ready to lead the way. Any heritage driven brand will hit the wall with nostalgia appeal at some point, and the folks at Original Penguin are cleverly broadening their appeal with updated design for both its products and its stores to reach a millennial customer who may be getting maxed-out on all that vintage inspired style any minute now. To that end, the retro-style orange-accented interior scheme of the SoHo store has been replaced with sleek walnut wood and crisp white walls with a giant, blue backlit logo on the rear wall for maximum branding effect. A little more space makes for an easier shopping experience as the new shop now has space to highlight the signature "Earl Polo" shirt, a new basic khaki program in updated colors and fits and expanded accessories collections. This isn't just a store relocation, however. The new NoHo store is now Original Penguin's global flagship, and the concept will eventually be rolled out to all of brand's stores (including the other New York City location on Sixth Avenue opposite Bryant Park) as well as the 20 or so units planned to open worldwide this year alone. The updated Original Penguin has been tapped as an expansion vehicle for parent company Perry Ellis International, so expect to see more of the brand's stores appearing in malls and shopping areas soon. Full disclosure: for our trouble, The Shophound was invited to pick a few pieces of the line for ourself, but we didn't need much encouragement to shop. If the brand has gone overboard with '50s-style novelty looks in the past, customers will find a more modern, slimmed down look to the product line as the company positions itself at a new level and gets ready to take on the Banana Republics and J.Crews of the market. See a few more views of the new store in the gallery below. 

Original Penguin now open at 654 Broadway at Bond Street, NoHo

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After 102 Years In New York, J.Press Will Temporarily Close Its Flagship

It's not going out of business, and it's not totally voluntary, but American preppy style retail icon J.Press will be closing its Madison Avenue flagship for at least a year while its home building is being renovated. This will be the first time since 1912 that the city has been without a branch of the New Haven founded store. Parent company Onward Kashiyama has been looking for a temporary location, but has failed to find a suitable stand-in before the store, along with the building's other tenants, will be required to vacate the premises. The lease isn't technically lost, it has just been put on hiatus in a manner of speaking. Though a search still continues for a replacement location, it could be as late as Spring 2015 before J.Press once again has a home for its main, traditional collection.

What will remain open, however, is the York Street collection store on Bleecker Street (though we wouldn't be totally surprised if they threw a few basics from the mail line in there for while). The collection, designed by Shimon and Ariel Ovadia of Ovadia & Sons, presents a younger, slimmed down version of the store's signature style. It is meant to broaden the brand's appeal, but unlikely to suffice for the company's old-line sack sack suit stalwarts. The company's other locations in New Haven, Washington DC and Boston will remain open as well as its website, so J.Press' New York customers won't be entirely without access to new repp ties and oxford shirts, but they will be counting the days until their sartorial home reopens.

After Century In New York, J. Press To Lay Off Staff, Close Store For One Year (Ivy Style via GQ)


Kent & Curwen Is Late!

Missed deadlines are never good, but when it comes to opening a Madison Avenue boutique, opening projections are always subject to change. Re-animated British heritage brand Kent & Curwen is still trumpeting an Autumn 2013 arrival, which looks a little sad now that it is 2014. A tiny glimpse through a crack in the doorway yesterday showed a busy construction site that looked like maybe it would be ready by later this Spring. Will it be worth waiting for a revival of the label that once introduced the V-necked Cricket sweater to the world? A glance through the brand's current website shows initial collections based on updated British classics from Schoolboy to Savile Row looks. Perennial favorites to be sure, but there should be more exciting things to come. Last Fall, Simon Spurr, a menswear favorite whose own much admired label fell dormant in 2012, joined the company as creative director —a much more fitting position than the ghost-designing for Tommy Hilfiger his previous assignment required. His first collection for Kent & Curwen will be shown in London next week to presumably eager buyers and editors for Fall 2014, which means that by this time next year, a Spurr fueled version of the label is likely to be right in the center of a menswear world always looking for a new label to love.

They really need to fix that window signage, though. ASAP.


Schott Marks 100 Years
With A New Store & An Exhibition

Do you have a motorcycle jacket yet?
What are you waiting for?
If you haven't noticed, the fashion icon to be rediscovered and thrust into the limelight this season is the zipped Perfecto style biker jacket. While some might credit Hedi Slimane for putting it at the center of his grungy Fall collection for Saint Laurent, the folks at Schott would probably say, "Hedi who?". They would point to their company's 100th anniversary and remind you that they have owned the trademark "Perfecto" since their company invented the style in 1928. As a genuine heritage brand, Schott hasn't needed the kind of carefully engineered revival and repositioning that other such companies have enjoyed in recent years. It been making versions of its signature items continuously in its New York area factories as there has been no shortage of bikers, or aspiring bikers, looking for the jacket that Marlon Brando made famous in the 1950s. To mark the 100 year milestone as well as the opening of its first boutique, Schott staged an all-too-brief exhibition (pictured below) over the weekend a couple of blocks away on Mulberry Street tracing its history making apparel for the Military and Police along with motorcycle enthusiasts and featuring an abundance of archival pieces including a couple of prized pieces from the 1980s decorated by Keith Haring.

Naturally, the signature Perfecto is in the window of Schott's new Elizabeth Street boutique (over a pair of Tellason jeans which are sold there to complete the look). Walk in and be reminded that the brand has thrived on more than biker jackets over the years, producing Navy peacoats, varsity jackets, fur collared bombers, brass-buttoned police coats, baseball jackets and pretty much every classic style of outerwear to have emerged during the 20th Century. Unlike its English counterpart, Belstaff, the company (still owned by the same family) has pointedly not remade itself as a luxury lifestyle brand, instead emphasizing the utilitarian aspects of its rich archives in solid quality and updated but not necessarily extravagant materials. You won't find an alligator skin biker jacket in the store, but that doesn't mean that its offerings haven't been burnished just a bit. If you aren't up for the extended break-in period required by the original steerhide Perfecto, you can find it in a softer calf version. There are a few obligatory forays into fashion as well (herringbone tweed Perfecto?), and jeans and t-shirts round out the stock, but by and large, Schott sticks with the basics and avoids overly contrived variations on its classics. Prices top out in the $1,000 range for more expensive leather pieces, which is something of an investment, but not nearly as much as Slimane's over $5,000 version, and it comes with an extra degree of authenticity that French a couture house simply cannot provide.

Schott 236 Elizabeth Street between Houston & Price Streets, NoLita


Haspel Label To Return Next Spring With Help From Shipley & Halmos


There was a time when every businessman in America had a cotton poplin or seersucker suit for sweltering summer days when no other attire would do. You could wash it and travel with it, and in all likelihood it had a Haspel label in it. In recent decades, the suit business has gone up and down, and stewardship of the Haspel brand had fallen to a string of licensees, often with dodgy and, usually stodgy distribution, but next Spring, after having been out of the market for a few seasons, we can look forward to the return of an updated, fully revived Haspel brand. It will be produced once again in-house by members of the original family that started the company and designed by Jeff Halmos and Sam Shipley of Shipley & Halmos.

As one of the few menswear "heritage" labels not yet mined by style-conscious revivalists, it was only a matter of time before it's re-invention would be at hand, and it turns out that the catalyst was the final expiration of the label's licenses, returning full control to its owners. Who knew that after 104 years, it was still owned by the original family? With Shipley & Halmos at the design helm, the new Haspel will include more than just wash & wear seersucker suits, but also a full collection of sportswear and tailored clothing most of which will be produced in domestic factories located in New England. Look for prices to fall just under the traditional designer level with suits retailing in the $795 to $1,200 —about twice what they cost under its most recent licensee, but somewhat less than Shipley & Halmos' signature collection. The designers tell WWD, "We look at it as an opportunity to take something that was once an important American brand and give it some much-needed love." So far, no images of the collection have been released beyond the re-designed label (pictured above), but hopefully we will get a chance to see the new, modernized Haspel collection sometime next month when New York's menswear market begins.

Haspel to Relaunch for Spring (WWD)


J.Press York Street Twists The Ivy League

We're not exactly sure if The Yale Club has hosted too many fashion shows before, but it definitely had to relax its strict dress code on Sunday when the fiercely traditional men's retailer J. Press took over the place to to show off its new premium York Street collection. The Fashion Week crowd is notoriously whimsical, especially over the weekend days, so while the part of the crowd made up of Japanese retailers and executives from J.Press' parent company, Onward Kashiyama would have no trouble passing muster at the exclusive alumni club, it was the editors, photographers and other various fashion folk in who sported shorts, jeans, the occasional tank top and, even a few pairs of flip-flops who would never have made it up the stairs in such a place on any other day. They don't even let you into the lounge at the Yale Club in a three-piece suit if you aren't wearing socks, but for longtime Yale retailer J. Press, the dress code was lifted for a few hours as the club's regulars restrained their disapproval.

JPressYorkStreetss2013-1The York Street label is named after the original J. Press store founded 110 years ago in New Haven, Connecticut, and 110 years after its founding, the most resolutely conservative men's store in America has decided that it is time to inject a little bit of fashion into its offerings —but just a little. To that end it has engaged Shimon and Ariel Ovadia of the burgeoning Ovadia & Sons label to give its offerings an update. Known for their own sense of traditionalism and respect for quality, the Ovadia twins trimmed down the store's signature sack suits and billowing button-down collared shirts (and they do billow). Is J. Press pulling a "Black Fleece" by hiring young designers to get attention and to burnish its image like it's larger rival Brooks Brothers a few blocks down madison Avenue? Uh, yeah, and don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise, but it's a perfectly good plan to follow. The Ovadia's updates on the J.Press style are also arguably much more accessible and commercial than Thom Browne's quirkier styles for Black Fleece. J. Press isn't going for a high fashion look, here, but for a more youthful take on its enduring tradition, and its Japanese parent company would clearly understand the commercial appeal of an authentic American tweaked for a younger customer —after all, the concept was practically invented in Japan.

Don't expect the York Street collection to be a one-off experiment either, like the short-lived and better left forgotten J. Press capsule line for Urban Outfitters from a couple of years ago. The company is wholesaling the label to other stores including trendsetters like Fred Segal in Santa Monica, and a freestanding J. Press York Street store is expected to appear in New York sometime next Spring to debut the line to customers. If  J. Press is taking a page from its rival's playbook, then it's all the better for fans of the continuing menswear craze for updated heritage labels, and if it takes off, then The Yale Club might have to get used seeing more sockless crowds in its halls.


Filson Goes Fashion-y
With Richard Chai


If the revival of American heritage brands is like a giant, unstoppable steam engine that continues to roll on, then the original conductor might be the folks at Filson, the 115 year-old Seattle based maker of rugged, classic bags that have changed little over the years. The brand has found enduring success in stores like Barneys and Steven Alan without losing any of its traditional rugged appeal, or even being forced to make a special "premium collection" for its luxury clients. It has been, in a sense, a gateway drug for the heritage brand-obsessed who pore over A Continuous Lean, Valet and any number of other styleblogs and Tumblrs.

No stranger to collaborations, Filson has chosen to work mostly with similarly venerable companies like Levi's, Sebago, Red Wing Shoes and even Vans, but this week they finally announced a partnership with an actual designer, Richard Chai. The New York based designer was named Filson's Creative Director on an ongoing basis, and will show his first capsule collection for the brand along with his Fall 2012 collection next week. The nine-piece line will, like most of Filson's products, will be made entirely in America and include classic Filson styles. Jackets and duffels will be re-interpreted in Chai's fabrics like his signature black stripe and monochromatic, patterned gray wools.

Filson President and CEO Mark Korros told WWD that the company was looking for a designer to add more of a fashion dimension to the brand, and Chai, a longtime fan of the label, approached the brand himself with a proposal to work with them. The collaboration, Korres says, will “enable Filson to appeal to our existing customer base as well as a younger customer who is more fashion conscious. It’s adding a real romance to the brand.” You can expect the line to start appearing in stores next Fall.

Filson Names Richard Chai Creative Director (WWD)
Filson (Official Site)