We certainly hope that Molly Young will be serving as our Critical Shopper more often than the once a month we have seen so far, because it turns out that when her knives are sharpened, she knows how to use them, and this time they are pointed at Rebecca Minkoff.
What did the increasingly popular handbag-cum-lifestyle collection designer ever do to Young? Who knows, but she is paying for it in this week's Thursday Styles. In her second outing as Critical Shopper, Young visits Minkoff's new boutique in SoHo which has been highly touted for its state-of-the-art automated services including RFID systems that will recognize shoppers and recommend items on the mirrors in the dressing rooms. Our shopper marvels at the touch screens that welcome her to the store and take her beverage order, and the customizable dressing room lighting is the best she has ever seen, but none of this flair is enough to distract her from the merchandise. Little escapes her eye as she takes the "Critical" part of her task extra-seriously. While her coffee arrives promptly and hot, a festive pair of shorts dubbed "clown underpants" by her shopping companion get this assessment: "The shorts were pretty and carefully constructed, with zero sex appeal. They were the Katy Perry of shorts."
No punches pulled here as she also notes that Minkoff somehow manages to her materials look cheaper and of lower quality than they actually are. How do you make silk look like polyester? It's sure to be a trade secret. The most damning strike comes at Minkoff's shoe display, where young discovers a disturbingly accurate copy of Valentino's studded jelly sandals, and item that has already been reproduced ad nauseam by all the usual knock-off suspects.
...copycatting is an offense with a high rate of recidivism. The peril of a flashy knockoff is how quickly it pollutes the rest of a brand’s inventory. A visitor’s eyes narrow as they sweep the room. What else has been cribbed?
We suppose that the popular Minkoff will survive the assault, but such a takedown from the Times must leave a nasty bruise.
Critical Shopper: At Rebecca Minkoff in SoHo, Interface-to-Face Service By Molly Young (NYTimes)
Rebecca Minkoff 96 Greene Street between Spring & Prince Streets, SoHo