WELCOME REAPPEARANCE:

Pearl River Mart To Return Next Month In Tribeca

PearlRiverMart
New York shoppers were disappointed to say the least last year when Pearl River Mart, the beloved Asian emporium in SoHo, was forced out of its Broadway home by a fivefold rent increase. The company has switched to an online business model since then, but the void it left has been glaring. There's good news for hopeful fans of the store, however. Pearl River Mart is set to return with an 8,000 square foot pop-up store on November 17th at 395 Broadway in Tribeca. In February, the pou-up will close for a build-out to become a permanent store. It will not be a replica of its 30,000 square foot SoHo predecessor (pictured above), however. Due to the smaller space, the store will forgo some of its more arcane departments such as traditional Chinese medicine and musical instruments. Some of the outsized decor items such as giant buddha figures will also be gone from the assortments, but popular departments like apparel and home and kitchen goods should be represented in abundance. According to Joanne Kwong, the new president of Pearl River, the new store will dedicate space to presenting Asian and Asian-American culture with a rotating assortment of products from designers and artists meant to educate shoppers of Asian traditions with special events and demonstrations.
The new store is still relatively close to Pearl River's SoHo and Chinatown roots, and hopefully, longtime fans will have not trouble finding it once it reopens.

(Crain's)


MADISON MOVES:

Tom Ford To Snatch Space Slated For Qatari Luxury No-Show

680Madison-RenderingCorner 61st
Rendering: 680MadisonAvenue.com

Remember a couple of years ago when we passed along the news that an upstart Qatari luxury label called Qela was opening a glittery flagship store on the corner of Madison Avenue and 61st street (rendering pictured above) in the long-gestating, renovated retail section of the former Carlton House at 680 Madison Avenue?
Not to be cynical, but that's the sort of ambitious retail debut that we usually take with just a grain or two of salt: "Heretofore unknown brand from a faraway land to make splashy New York debut at phenomenally expensive location". Well, it turns out that Qela, if it even still exists, will not be making its way to Madison and 61st Street after all. About a year ago, word was out that the space was being shopped around for a sublease, and the original lease was eventually terminated before any further action was taken, leaving it available for Tom Ford to swoop in and secure it for his next Madison Avenue boutique. No, he will not be among those with dual shops on Madison, but will instead move his flagship store downtown from the 70th street corner where he first debuted his apparel collections under his own label. The 2-level 12,300 square foot store is just a bit smaller than the current flagship, but the location, just across 61st Street from Barneys, has an even more prominent profile. While is Ford's current store is keeping company with Ralph Lauren, Prada, Bottega Veneta, Céline and other illustrious names, the new location will be sharing the block with a new Brioni boutique expected to open later this year to show off that brand's radical revamp. Other menswear neighbors include Berluti, Brunelli Cucinelli and the Hermès men's store. Though Barneys across the street as radically shrunk its fabled suit department, it also remains a major menswear store (where Ford does not sell his collection) and an important traffic generator for the neighborhood. Though Ford has shown a women's collection for several seasons, he started his signature collection with men's apparel, and it would appear to be the bigger part of his fashion offerings. There's no official time frame for the new store opening, but the raw space has been ready for a new inhabitant for quite some time now, so late 2017 might be a reasonable estimate to see how Ford will update his typically lavish retail concept.

(NYPost)
Previously:
Grand Entrance: Upstart Qatari Luxury Label Qela Plans A Major Madison Avenue Debut (1/8/2014)


TURF BATTLE:

Is Under Armour Fighting Nike And Apple For Space In The GM Building?

GMBuilding-Apple
Why, just last week we wrote about the potential battle between Apple and Nike for the former FAO Schwarz space on the 58th Street side of the GM Building (pictured above), and now the status quo has changed as another player, Under Armour, appears to have entered the fray. According to Crain's, the burgeoning performance athletic-wear company is in talks to take over at least part of the space that the legendary toy store has left vacant. Does that mean that Under Armour will now be nestled among Cartier, Apple and Bergdorf Goodman's Men's store which will be its neighbor across the street?
Reports say that the former toy palace with 13,ooo square feet on the ground floor and 40,000 on the second level is ultimately likely to be divided, and we don't know if Under Armour may be in talks for the whole thing or part of it, though if Nike is still looking to get into the space after its lease extension on 57th Street expires, it is unlikely that it would accept Under Armour as a direct adjacency.
Cartier's store on the 59th street side of the GM Building is technically temporary, and though there has been talk of the jewelry company holding on to it even after it's landmarked townhouse on Fifth Avenue is finally restored and renovated, it could also be in play within the next year or two.
The real question here, though, is whether or not Under Armour belongs in the GM Building amongst rarefied luxury flagships as well as the only electronics company that approaches luxury brand status? Nike, for all its prosaic qualities, has a coolness factor that allows it to be included amongst the avant-garde designers curated at Comme des Garçons' Dover Street Market. We could see it moved to the GM Building, but Under Armour? Does it really have that level of prestige?
We tend to think no, not that that has any bearing on whether or not a lease will be negotiated and signed. It does, however, remind us of the early 1990s, when there was a multi-level Warner Brothers Studio Store on the corner of 57th and Fifth, and a few blocks down Fifth Avenue, shoppers found an equally lavish Walt Disney store. Retailers in the neighborhood griped that the stores were degrading the area's prestige level (though there were fewer complaints when Nike took over the beleaguered space that was originally Bonwit Teller's replacement store). Eventually, those two cartoon palaces became Louis Vuitton and The Polo Store, and all was once again right with Fifth Avenue. Will the same sentiments follow Under Armour to the GM Building. The brand seems at home with a huge flagship on lower Broadway in SoHo, but will is be as comfortable a fit on one of New York's most luxurious corners?

Nike may get muscled out of prime GM Building retail space (Crain's)


STOREFRONT SHUFFLE:

Bally & Georg Jensen To Move A Few Blocks Up Madison Avenue

The game of Musical Stores on Madison Avenue will continue as famed Swiss shoe and accessory brand Bally will move from its current home in the GM Building to Georg Jensen's shop at 687 Madison. Georg Jensen, by the same token will relocate further uptown to 698 Madison.
what may seem like lateral move for both companies may in fact be something of marginal improvement for Bally, which has endured continuing efforts to reposition and improve its fashion image in its GM building location through a series of creative directors. The move will have it taking the entire southeast corner of 62nd and Madison including not only the Jensen store but also the adjacent former Church's shop which has been closed for several months now creating a total of about 3,000 square feet. It is a somewhat more favorable location just a block up from Barneys with a much more intimate scale than the cavernous GM Building space.
Georg Jensen's new home will have be the former Kentshire shop where, between the ground floor and the basement, it will have 1,600 square feet to display the famous Danish jewelry and silver designs.
No word yet on who will takeover the current Bally store which is on the back end of a wing that features a temporary (or possibly not so temporary if rumors are to be believed) Cartier store, and if there is a new Church's store in the works, something New York City hasn't been long without in decades, then it is still under wraps.

The WTC transit hub is an exhausting mess (NYPost via The Real Deal)


FOOTWEAR UPGRADE:

Melissa Shoes To Move To Former Tommy Hilfiger Space In SoHo

Hilfigerdenimsoho
Fans of shiny, plastic shoes will be pleased to hear that Melissa Shoes is reportedly moving its flagship store from a modest storefront on Greene Street to  Tommy Hilfiger's former store at 500 Broadway (pictured above) right next door to Bloomingdale's. The Brazilian brand known for its leather-free footwear and collaborations with designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Vivienne Westwood and Jason Wu, to name a few, will enjoy a big step up both in profile and square feet nearly doubling the store's selling space and increasing visibility immeasurably. As for the store that the brand is leaving at 102 Greene Street (pictured below), it is rumored to be Fendi's next home at SoHo, suggesting that the odd, windowless space right next door that Fendi recently moved into is in fact just a temporary space for the main luxury brand as it waits to move into a more appropriately proportioned store.

Melissa Shoes to make big footprint in Soho with new Broadway store (TheRealDeal)
Previously:
Fendi's New SoHo Store Is Open As Louis Vuitton Takes Over Its Old Space

102GreeneStSoHo


MUSICAL STOREFRONTS:

Fendi's New SoHo Store Is Open As Louis Vuitton Takes Over Its Old Space

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Call it just one of the effects of corporately owned fashion. Several weeks ago, we noticed that Fendi had vacated its high-profile spot at the corner of Greene and Spring Streets for a strangely innocuous location down the block with very little street visibility, and now we can see that the space at 122 Greene has been given over to the ever sprawling Louis Vuitton boutique that had been its next-door neighbor (pictured above). It's not Vuitton's first expansion of its SoHo store, and now it controls a substantial portion of the block between Spring and Prince Streets. It's not terribly surprising to see Vuitton move into Fendi's space, as they are sibling brands under the vast LVMH luxury umbrella. Vuitton, along with Dior which also has a boutique on the same block, is one of the group's crown jewels, a cash cow that has few peers in the fashion world. It would appear, at least in their case, that one of the hazards of being a part of such a luxury group is that when Big LV needs more room lesser brands, even ones as celebrated as Fendi, will get out of the way and relinquish their highly desirable corner stores.
For its part, Fendi's new store at no. 104 (pictured below) may be a bit larger than its previous space, but even the brand's outsized chrome robot bear mascot at the doorway may not be enough to alert passers by that the new boutique is now open. Hushed, well-appointed and well stocked with the brand's Bag Bugs festooned accessories though it may be, the new store is strangely tunnel-like and windowless which is particularly unfortunate in a neighborhood so prized in part for its airy loft-like stores. Hopefully, SoHo's tourists and other deep pocketed shoppers will find Fendi's new downtown home, but we have to wonder if the brand's retail executives are really that pleased with the relocation.
FendiSoHo


MOVIN' ON UP:

Zegna Will Take Its Flagship To The Crown Building

Crownbuilding4It was only about eight years ago that Ermenegildo Zegna debuted a lavish Fifth Avenue flagship store of the sort that one would expect it would remain in for quite a while, but the NY Post is reporting that the Italian menswear megabrand is already heading to The Crown Building at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue to open a new 9,000 square feet for a new brand palace at one of the most expensive intersections in the world. If, as one might presume, the company had a 10-year lease at 663 Fifth Avenue, its current home, then it should be ready to move uptown at about the time its current lease runs out. While the retail space is being reconfigured, much of the office space upstairs will be converted into a combination of luxury hotel and condominiums.
Zegna's space is reported to include 1,500 square feet the ground floor and 7,500 square feet on the second floors of the building with an entrance on West 57th Street. Bulgari, the longtime corner tenant, has recently renegotiated its lease for a reduced 3,000 square footprint. It looks like Zegna will take over part of Bulgari's former space combined with Smythson's former store next door at the street level. What the new store will look like will be for us to anticipate, but given the splashy address and its current glamorous digs, it seems fair to expect a major statement.

Gildo Zegna gets luxurious flagship store inside Crown Building (NYPost)


WEST VILLAGE INS & OUTS:

Paul Smith Is In
Mulberry, Black Fleece & Marc Jacobs Men's Are Out On Bleecker

BleeckerPaulSmith
Remember when Bleecker Street was such a hot retail address that the older stores were being pushed out and replaced with new designer boutiques at a breakneck pace?
Well, that's over.
As luxury labels retrench in the face of economic uncertainty, Bleecker street is suddenly looking less like a hotspot and more like a tony neighborhood in a holding pattern, perhaps a couple of years behind the neighboring Meatpacking District where once precious retail space is now available in greater abundance. Since the Holiday season, A few more Bleecker Street storefronts have gone empty. Mulberry has quietly exited its outpost at 387 Bleecker leaving it with larger stores on both Madison Avenue and Spring Street in SoHo. Perhaps a tiny store that benefited from Bleecker Street's hotspot-of-the-moment glamor is no longer such an imperative when there are other bigger stores in more heavily trafficked neighborhoods with more potential for sales volume and brand visibility.
Mulberry is not the only company reconsidering its retail strategies. Marc Jacobs is in still the midst of re-inventing his own label. Since the Marc by Marc Jacobs label that made up most of his Bleecker Street stores' offerings has been discontinued, his West Village colony of shops is in a transition of its own. It was always a kind of free-flowing arrangement with stores regularly switching places. With Want Les Essentials de la Vie having already having taken over one of the designer's former shops, the latest branch to bite to the dust is the teeny tiny men's store whose windows are now blacked out. That leaves Jacobs with only his original shop at 403/405 Bleecker, Bookmarc across the street at #400 and the beauty store at #385, which is still a strong showing, but we are still wondering how things will settle retail wise for Marc. His men's store has always been problematic. Having bounced around from one of Jacobs' West Village locations to another, it always seemed to wind up in the same stall-like space that could only hold a few customers at a time and seemed like a poor setting for one of America's premier designers to present his collections. Part of this probably results from the fact that Jacobs has been candid over the years about his personal disinterest in menswear as a designer. He rarely if ever wears his own brand, preferring more attention getting outfits from labels like Comme des Garçons and most recently being very vocal about buying copious amounts of Alessandro Michele's first Gucci collection. His lack of interest is reflected at retail where the label has little traction in menswear, and industry watchers are wondering if the men's division has many more seasons left at all without stronger direction. Closing its store couldn't be seen as a sign of faith in the division.
While once it was incredibly difficult for a retailer to even acquire a space on Bleecker Street in its most desirable stretch between Christoper Street and Hudson Street, now a prospective retailer has something of a selection. Since Brooks Brothers has sadly discontinued its Thom Browne designed Black Fleece collection, its boutique at 351 Bleecker at the corner of West 10th Street has also been shuttered leaving another prime spot open, and more space at 345 Bleecker will be available soon as Comptoir des Cotonniers has posted a closing notice in the window of its unit there. In addition, the empty where the neighborhood favorite Manatus Restaurant once served up classic diner fare is still empty after it was forced out nearly two years ago in hopes of attracting a higher paying tenant who has yet to show up.
It's not all bad news, however. As promised, Paul Smith has opened up a temporary store at 357 Bleecker Street (pictured above) to replace his original Flatiron store. As reported, it's smaller than the shuttered  lower Fifth Avenue boutique, but Smith promises a bigger permanent unit on the way. So far the store is only carrying early Spring deliveries heavy on his lower priced label, PS. Perhaps even after a more impressive space  presents itself, Smith, who has also streamlined his profusion of labels, should consider hanging on to the Bleecker Street store as a PS-only shop. It would fit in perfectly with the street's more recent focus on slightly more accessible designer labels, and it would fill up a shop that might otherwise not find a tenant a swiftly as it might have a few years ago.

Previously:
Paul Smith Is Leaving Flatiron For Bleecker Street. . . For Now

See a gallery of closing notices after the jump.

Continue reading "WEST VILLAGE INS & OUTS:

Paul Smith Is In
Mulberry, Black Fleece & Marc Jacobs Men's Are Out On Bleecker
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ROVING BOUTIQUE:

Paul Smith Is Leaving Flatiron For Bleecker Street. . . For Now

PaulSmithMoving
The Flatiron District will be dealt a blow next week when the Paul Smith boutique at 108 Fifth Avenue (pictured above) permanently closes its doors and moves to a temporary space on Bleecker Street in the West Village. While the designer has a flagship store in SoHo, a Williamsburg location and a new outpost at Brookfield Place in the Financial District, the Fifth Avenue store was Smith's first in New York opening in 1987. It was one of the first designer stores in the neighborhood and, along with Emporio Armani on the other side of 16th Street (now a closed Joe Fresh), established Fifth Avenue between 23rd and 14th Streets as a bona fide shopping destination that seemed to be geared more toward downtown dwelling New Yorkers than tourists or bridge-and-tunnel shoppers. Even though the neighborhood eventually became more of a destination for chain stores that made it something of a mall without the mall (Gap, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, H&M, Victoria's Secret etc.), The Paul Smith boutique maintained its place as the high-end lynchpin for the neighborhood for nearly 30 years, even expanding downstairs.
Smith won't miss a beat, however. As clearly stipulated in the window (pictured below) the Bleecker Street store will open on Monday It is a more compact 1,000 square feet to Fifth Avenue's 1,800, but it is technically a temporary location to serve until a more suitable permanent spot is found. Where it will ultimately land remains to be seen, but the hands-on designer has been known to be extremely picky about where he places his boutiques, so wherever it is, expect it to be perfectly chosen all in good time.

Paul Smith Relocates to Temporary Site in Manhattan (WWD)
PaulSmithMovingSign


TRAVELING TECH:

SonyStyle To Say So Long To Midtown

SonyWonderAs soon as Sony sold its Midtown tower a couple of years ago, it seemed inevitable that a new owner would probably be waiting for the media and electronics giant to relinquish its hold on the building's valuable Madison Avenue retail space, and that is what is about to happen. The SonyStyle store is now set to vacate its current home for retail space in its parent company's new home at 11 Madison Avenue right by Madison Square Park. While some still know 550 Madison Avenue by its original name, the AT&T Building, the structure shook the skyline with the striking, outsized postmodern pediment at its top and became the Sony Tower in the Early 90s. SonyStyle has been a showcase for the brand's various products ever since, and while there was once a chain of such stores throughout the U.S., the company's retail devotion was reduced earlier last year to the one store in New York and another in Los Angeles as the consumer electronics market has rapidly evolved over the past two decades. How the store's downtown replacement will look remains to be seen, but it will be hard to match the soaring ceilings inside the store and in the dramatic passageway that cut through the building between 55th and 56th Streets. Once an open-air space that was majestic but cold, Sony took the step of reconfiguring the public space and enclosing it making it more useful for both retailers and passersby. Look for the retail complex, divided by the building's lobby and entryway, to be marketed as two separate store spaces, but not after some extensive renovation. Presumably, the free-to-the-public Sony Wonder Technology Lab (pictured) described as "state-of-the-art technology and entertainment museum" will also be vacating, but it is not known if it will be replicated in the new store. For its part, Sony is relocating its store to a neighborhood on the other side of Madison Square Park from the trendy NoMad area to a neighborhood better known for luxury home furnishing showrooms and Shake Shack, which makes us think that the replacement store will be more of an open showroom for Sony products than a store looking to capture midtown tourist business.

Sony to shutter longtime Madison Avenue store as it moves south (Crain's)