The Kent & Curwen Sale Is A Can't Miss For Erstwhile Simon Spurr Fans

Well it is turning out to be a bonanza of a sample sale week for stylish gentlemen of New York. We just heard about the KENT & CURWEN  sale a few days ago, and knowing that the British label just decided to abandon its revamp plans in favor of a completely new direction in collaboration with soccer legend David Beckham, we thought that this might be an interesting opportunity.
In fact, it's more like a fire sale.
For the past few seasons, Kent & Curwen has already been undergoing a revision under British born, New York based designer Simon Spurr, whose own much admired label collapsed after he was separated from it in 2012. Spurr's collections for Kent & Curwen showed him in fine form with all of his strengths as a designer on display; sleek tailoring, inventively engineered knitwear, and superlative outerwear. The brand and its owner were apparently so confident in his creative direction that they leased an expansive flagship boutique on Madison Avenue last year to show it off. The label found its way into Bloomingdale's and Sals Fifth Avenue, both stores who carried Spurr's label previously, and things seemed to be going well until, after barely a year in business, the Madison Avenue store quietly shuttered over the summer, and the label's Fall 2015 collection was mysteriously absent from any men's fashion week, only to be unveiled late in a muted presentation. It was not so much of a surprise, then, when the company announced its new Beckham partnership with great fanfare a couple of weeks ago indicating that Spurr had left the brand.
But back to the sale. We asked one of the Kent & Curwen staffers there if they were clearing out of the Spurr-designed product to make room for the new Beckham lines and she said that, in fact, the merchandise was actually meant to be stocked in the Madison Avenue store that no longer exists, so, for the most part, it is all Fall 2015 merchandise in classic Simon Spurr stye —and it is a all a bargain. We are talking $15 neckties and $60 sweaters —$90 for $500 - $600 cashmeres— and $1,500 suits for $395. We found boxes of soft cashmere scarves for $30 each. And there's tons of everything, including Leather outerwear for that retailed for up to $2,000 for a mere $395 —and few designers know their way around a leather jacket like Simon Spurr (a full price list is posted after the jump). There are stacks of dress shirts and racks of slim trousers, with more merchandise rolling in as we shopped.
The only drawback is that to enter the sale, one must go to Trump Tower.
Yes, that Trump Tower.
While we are loath to have anything to do with anything Trump or Trump-adjacent, it is worth braving the pink marble atrium. You will have to go through the attendant at the elevators just to the left of the building's Fifth Avenue entrance, and visitors will be personally escorted up to the 14th floor by a doorman, which, all things considered, is a perfectly reasonable security precaution at the moment. The sale is in a raw, recently gutted space that is divided into a small first room with casual items and accessories, and a larger back room full of tailored clothing, outerwear, shirts, ties and more of everything. Apparently the sale had been going on since this past Monday before we internet folk got wind of it, and it will continue on weekdays only through Friday the 9th, assuming that there is enough merchandise to keep it going. Even if you aren't a Simon Spurr fan, it is still a great opportunity to refresh you fall wardrobe with some smart, sophisticated clothes at a fraction of their retail price tags. Don't dawdle.

As usual, all details can be found in our SALE ROLL at left which is worth keeping an eye on these days as unexpected sales have been popping up all over the place.

See a price list after the jump

Continue reading "SAMPLE SALE UPDATE:

The Kent & Curwen Sale Is A Can't Miss For Erstwhile Simon Spurr Fans" »


Saks Fifth Avenue Announces Its Latest Flagship Makeover Plan

SFAflagshipAt this point, several announcements about major renovations for the enormous Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store have come and gone with little actual activity, often because top management has changed faster than they have been able to implement the ever more elaborate and expensive renewal projects. The most recent one came earlier this year when then president Marigay McKee presented plans which included a series of bi-level designer lifestyle boutiques that would ring the main floor and extend up to the second level creating what we could only imagine to be a construction nightmare that wouldn't actually solve the store's pressing merchandising problems. McKee's noisy but brief tenure as Saks president ended shortly after that announcement, and the plans were apparently scuttled.
Today, WWD reports that current Saks President Mark Metrick has announced a new 3-year $250 million renovation plan that is even more radical, shuffling floors and adding a lower concourse level and even a dramatic new elevator. Ordinarily we would simply sigh and say, "We'll believe it when we see it," but now that Saks appears to have settled more comfortably as a division of Canada's Hudson's Bay Company, we have a feeling that this plan, or at least parts of it, will stick. Here are some of the main points of what will ultimately be a startling shakeup of every floor in the store.

Handbags and Accessories will take over the entire main floor.
One of Saks' longtime merchandising struggles on Fifth Avenue has been an epic fight for space on the main floor of the original building between cosmetics and handbags. Despite the enormous amount of floor space, there has never been enough room for retail's two most profitable categories to coexist peacefully there along with jewelry, and it would appear that cosmetics has won, taking over almost all of the floor space, and pushing accessories to a series of in-store shops around the store's perimeter and an undersized multi-brand handbag section crammed into the escalator atrium. This forced handbag customers to not only shop in a cumbersome ring around the huge main floor, but also to have to contend with aggressive makeup reps while buying purses.
In a reversal, Accessories have now gained the upper hand, and will not only take over the front of the main floor, but also the Swiss Tower sections behind the escalators currently occupied by jewelry. That department will be divided between the new concourse level downstairs to be called "The Vault" for precious gems and watches and part of the tower section of the second floor which presumably will house semiprecious baubles. It's a big change that will not only make it easier to sell those high-margin accessories, but should also mollify some important luxury brands without their own in-store shops who could not have been happy with the puny accessory area around the escalator atrium. This means that...

Cosmetics will move to the second floor.
Competitors Bergdorf's and Barneys have previously solved space problems by creating expansive makeup deportments in luxuriously renovated basements, but Saks will twist that scheme by moving it upstairs instead for 53% more space. The second floor at Saks is currently dedicated to more separates-oriented women's designer collections (they used to call it Designer Sportswear), but the section in the front of the store hasn't seen a major renovation since the 1970s, which is when the dramatic wooden superstructure you see there now was installed. Presumably, it will finally be cleared out. How will Saks keep what must be one of the biggest cosmetics departments in the world humming without the main floor foot traffic? A new glass elevator with a 23-foot staircase spiraling around it as well as an additional escalator will be installed in the center of the main floor to ferry customers up to two and down to the new jewelry concourse. Having cosmetics on two will trade the main floor's hectic —and extremely loud— ambiance for a more relaxing environment that will encourage customers to buy more. It will also save store visitors from having to brave battalions of fragrance models on their way to the upper floors, which is a win for everybody

Women's apparel will shrink from four to three floors.
With cosmetics moving up, women's wear will lose an entire floor, but the entire women's departments are being re-imagined. No longer to be stratified by price between the second and fifth floors, women's departments will now be arranged by lifestyle, with varying price points and different designer collections on every floor between 3 and 5. In addition, a new department call "The Ballroom" will be created on the 9th floor devoted only to eveningwear including shoes, handbags and jewelry. Bridal will also be included on the floor as well.

While Men's will remain on 6 and 7, it too will be rearranged with more of a lifestyle point of view, and other departments will be tweaked and moved around. The plan is one of the most elaborate store renovation plans we have seen, but, assuming it is fully carried out, it will give Saks some long overdue changes and updates. Don't get too anxious to see the results, however. It is not projected to be completed until 2018. In the meantime, there will be much construction disrupting the store, but when it is finished, it should result in a state-of-the-art ready to do battle just as fierce competitor Nordstrom sails into town.

Master Plan for the Saks Flagship Breaks Convention (WWD)


& Other Stories To Join COS On Fifth Avenue For A Late October Opening

As an example of how the bewildering PR system at H&M sometimes works, let us remember about six weeks ago when it was officially announced that the popular contemporary chain COS would be opening its second U.S. store on Fifth Avenue in part of the space on the northeast corner of 42nd Street that had been quietly abandoned by H&M, its parent company. What would take the rest of the space, we all wondered?
Well, no official announcement appears to have been made other than big sign in the window telling us that the other budding chain from H&M, & Other Stories, will be joining its sister for its second store in New York —and the entire U.S, for that matter.
We won't have to wait too long for the trendy chain's expansion. What must be a pretty firm opening date of October 30th is clearly included in the window, which makes this scenario a striking mirror of the stores' arrivals in SoHo when the more sophisticated COS was the first to be announced, but lagged months behind & Other Stories in actually opening to the public. On Fifth Avenue, COS is still "opening soon" which could mean this Fall, Christmastime, next Spring or just when they are damn good and ready.
We aren't complaining. We'll take more COS anytime whenever they want to give it to us, but now we know for sure that both of H&M's up and coming nameplates are on the road to expansion in New York and beyond. If the new stores are as well received in Midtown as they have been in SoHo, you can bet that there will be more of both coming your way soon.

Flagship Flash: COS To Open On Fifth Avenue In Former 42nd Street H&M


Apple To Take Over FAO Schwarz Space During Flagship Renovation

The Apple Store pictured above will temporarily move into the building behind the cube later this year.

While we don't yet know what will ultimately become of the FAO Schwarz retail space in the GM Building after the iconic toy store moves out on July 15th, we now know that the next immediate tenant will be the Apple Store which is reportedly taking over the place while its main flagship store underneath the plaza in front of the building undergoes an extensive renovation. The news was disclosed by Apple retail chief, senior vice president Angela Ahrendts to the Associated Press in an interview promoting the company's newest outlet set to open tomorrow on Madison Avenue. Though that new store will contain the company's signature minimalist wooden tables and fixtures, the building around it is reported to be a meticulous restoration of the former U.S. Mortgage & Trust building which will include chandeliers re-produced from vintage photographs and the original vault converted into a private shopping area —fitting for the store located in the neighborhood most conducive for selling the pricey golden AppleWatch Edition.
But back to Fifth Avenue. The famous store with the "cube" is included among the roughly 20 U.S. Apple Stores set for major renovation as they have outgrown their spaces since the introduction of the iPhone and other new products that have transformed the company's offerings. Exactly when the Fifth Avenue store's renovation will begin or how long it will take is unclear, though it is likely to start as soon as the FAO Schwarz space can be converted to Apple's temporary requirements. When that happens, the GM Building's Fifth Avenue retail spaces will be entirely devoted to temporary stores with Cartier on the northern corner, waiting for its own flagship a few blocks downtown to finish its extensive revamp, and Apple on the southern side. While the famous "cube" entrance is expected to remain, it sounds like the rest of the store will be dramatically updated. Whether or not the temporary store will maintain the flagship's 24-hour schedule is also unknown at the moment, but Apple is uniquely fortunate to be able to take over a large high profile location only steps away so it can continue doing business at it's highest volume retail outlet without any interruption.

In With The Old: Apple Restores Former Bank For New Store (AP)


Madison Avenue Malaise Edition

14CRITICAL4-articleLargeIn Today's Thursday Styles, our Critical Shopper menswear specialist Jon Caramanica expresses his disappointment with Joseph Abboud's first New York boutique on the corner of 49th Street and Madison Avenue. Essentially, he has pegged Abboud as a purveyor of the tastefully bland, contrasted with our shopper's continuing affection for what sounds like a typically flashy V2 Versace Classic suit from the late '90s purchased post-college in service of indeterminate career goals.
This is a vaguely Kaczynski-esque reminiscence with tenuous relevance, but it does suggest that our shopper does not remember that there was a time when Joseph Abboud was America's hottest new menswear designer, a GQ favorite with an in-store shop in Bergdorf Goodman's men's department (in both the original version and in the new Men's Store). At that moment, he was on the forefront of cross-pollinating American classic style with Italian sprezzatura before most men had even attempted to pronounce the name Ermenegildo Zegna, and labels like Isaia and Kiton were yet to be discovered. Eventually a partnership with Italian mega-manufacturer Gruppo GFT sent Abboud, aesthetically, into a pit of homogenized Euro-style from which his brand never really recovered, bringing him to the innocuous grays, taupes and earth tones that you still see in his new store. This is what our shopper Mr. Caramanica is judging him on when he says, "On the left wall are racks and racks of suits ($795, mostly). They are handsome, a little stiff, not risking imagination of any sort."
Having been separated from his own brand by the kind of corporate machinations that bedevil so many designers these days, The Shophound was hoping that Abboud's reunion with his label and the opening of his first New York store —under the unlikely auspices of Men's Wearhouse— would have sparked some kind of creative resurgence, but it turns out he has simply picked up where he left off with pleasant but predictable upscale clothing. While Abboud is pushing the suits, it's ultimately the sportswear that catches our Shopper's attention, when he says, "much of what was in the rest of the store was surprisingly warm." You won't go too far wrong at Joseph Abboud. It seems to be a safe place for men who can't be trusted to pull together a new outfit without steady guidance, but apparently, it will never offer the thrill of an off-price suit from a Versace diffusion line.

Critical Shopper: Joseph Abboud Provides a Guiding Hand for the Suit Averse By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Joseph Abboud 424 Madison Avenue at 49th Street, Midtown


The Biggest H&M Store In The World Opens In Herald Square On May 20

In a rare instance of timeliness, the H&M store that is taking over the former Herald Center will open on May 20th, two weeks from yesterday and one month before the "Summer 2015" date indicated on its signage officially begins. It's comforting to see H&M buck the trend of stores that seem to take forever to get built, and the date will get even more attention because singer John Legend has been pressed into service to open the store.
The store at 63,000 square feet will be H&M's biggest in the world with four floors collecting every single one of the chain's product categories including newer lines like H&M Sport and H&M Mama. It trumps the now puny 50,000 square foot store that opened last year on Fifth Avenue and was itself, for a time at least, the biggest store in the chain. That will leave the chain with three stores on the 34th Street shopping corridor, although the one closest to Herald Square between Fifth and Sixth Avenues is slated to close. More details about opening festivities are likely to be disclosed in the coming week, so stay tuned.

John Legend to Open H&M Store (WWD)


Vivienne Westwood Returns To New York In A Midtown Townhouse This Fall

Vivienne-westwood-sketch-portIt has been about a year and a half since we heard about Vivienne Westwood's purchase of a $13.5 million townhouse next to the St. Regis Hotel on East 55th Street, but the details of the upcoming flagship store have been announced. Contrary to WWD's headline, this is not in fact the first Vivienne Westwood boutique in New York. SoHo shoppers will remember a spacious boutique on Greene Street that opened in 1999 and closed a few years into the 2000s, but that was puny compared to the three level showplace that is slated to open this fall in midtown. The new store is slated to carry all of Westwood's product line including the premium Gold Label collection, Red Label, Anglomania and Man clothing lines along with accessories, bridal and exclusive Gold Label Capsule eveningwear. In a first for the U.S., the store will offer the designer's World's End collection which (except for a current offering at Opening Ceremony) has only been available at the designer's original King's Road boutique in London and features reproductions and reworking of classic Westwood designs —and yes, that's where Pharrell Williams got that hat. The upper floors will serve as the brand's U.S. headquarters and showrooms.
As for the decor and design, the rendering pictured is all we have to go on for now, but when opens, shoppers should be warned to expect just a bit of politics with their fashion. Those who only know Westwood from the lavish gowns she designs that regularly appear on red carpets might be surprised to discover that she is famously free with her philosophy and opinions, many of which are well outside the mainstream of typical American discourse. A visit to the Vivienne Westwood boutique might offer shoppers just a bit more than they bargained for.

Vivienne Westwood Opening First Boutique in New York (WWD)


Hermès Is Out And Diptyque Is In At Grand Central Terminal

As promised, the Hermès Silk Bar has taken its leave of Grand Central Terminal's Lexington Passage. It didn't seem all that outlandish anymore that the luxury brand might stick around a littler longer, but it looks like the folks there are happy with the strategy of staging pop-up stores in various places art round town periodically rather than opening small permanent stores, so farewell, Hermès. You definitely classed up the joint. 
Francophiles shouldn't feel too bereft, however. The telltale black and white montage of labels in the window tells us that the next resident of the well exposed corner shop right near the Grand Central Market will be popular Parisian candle and fragrance maker Diptyque. No word on whether this is a permanent or pop-up location like its predecessor, but, typically, landlords like permanent tenants, and with its luxurious image but still more accessible price point, Diptyque fits in easily with neighbors like Tumi, MAC and Jo Malone. No opening date has been announced, but it's a good bet that it will open by Mother's Day at the latest if not earlier.

Commuter Luxury: There Is Now An Hermès Store In Grand Central Terminal


Gotta Go To
...Some Other Mo's

Midtown fixture Modell's on 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue is getting close to selling its last jersey. The 25-year old fixture's lease is up in February, and it has to vacate its home at 51 East 42nd Street before the rather elegant building gets demolished to make way for the still controversial 65-story, block-long 1 Vanderbilt skyscraper that continues to irk much of the neighborhood because of its immense size. The outsized building's main selling point to zoning boards and the public is that it comes with tens of millions of dollars worth of transit improvements for the Grand Central area —the same improvements that are forcing Posman Books out of its home on Grand Central Terminal's concourse. Modell's will shut for good on December 31st, and though there are nine other branches of the sports retailer in Manhattan, the company is still looking for replacement space near the Terminal where it has had a presence for over 50 years. 

Modell's loses longtime home by Grand Central (Crain's)


Saint Laurent To Jump Fifth Avenue
For A While

We knew this would be happening at some point, but the big Saint Laurent flagship store on east 57th Street is finally about to get the full Hedi Slimane treatment. Now that the SoHo store and three in-store shops at Saks and Bergdorf's (Men's and Women's) have been fully Slimane-ified, they are, apparently, finally getting around to bringing the boutique at 3 East 57th Street up to aesthetic code and having the official store design installed. Regular customers won't have too much trouble finding Saint Laurent's temporary home. It's just on the other side of Fifth Avenue at 3 West 57th Street (above), in the same place that so many other Midtown boutiques (Coach, Chanel, Burberry etc.) have used during their own renovations, but before Saint Laurent moves in, it needs its own sprucing up before it will be suitable to house the super-persnickety designer's collections.
Of course, the least interesting part of this whole scenario is how the permanent Saint Laurent store will look after its makeover. We can pretty much picture it right now, because all Saint Laurent retail spaces look exactly the same now, just as if they were Starbucks or 7-Elevens. We can safely predict that there will be lots of white and black marble with glass and chrome, and probably some boxy, minimalistic black leather upholstered furniture. We like to think that maybe they will surprise us with some unique design touches, but we aren't holding our breath.