Almost But Not Quite Edition

01CRITICAL1SUB-blog427In today's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica is extra critical.
First, he spends several paragraphs on the typical New York apartment dweller's closet dilemma. Does an over stuffed closet mean you have too many clothes or not enough closet space? Who can say –besides Marie Kondo whom we don't even want to get started with.
This philosophical storage discussion is all to lead us to Tomorrowland, not the section from the Disney theme parks, and certainly not the cinematic misfire from earlier this year, but the Japanese sportswear brand which just opened a sprawling boutique on Broome Street in SoHo (pictured at left).
The problem with Tomorrowland's wares is not that they aren't appealing, but are they appealing enough to try to cram into your already overstuffed closet/armoire/dresser/makeshift under-bed storage apparatus? It seems pretty clear that our shopper has not yet come to terms with his own wardrobe space issues. "What you have to watch out for are inessentials that look and feel like essentials," he writes, "clothes that are elegantly designed, well made, reasonably priced and seemingly unique, but which don’t solve an unsolved problem."
This is a problem peculiar to cities like New York where there is an embarrassment of retail riches to choose from, and one has the luxury of discernment. You might not necessarily have to pounce on the first great thing you see because, in all likelihood, there will be five more great things around the corner, anyway.
So he gets picky.

It was hard not to get excited looking at these clothes, though when I tried them on, that enthusiasm faded slightly. The fabrics felt just a hair too deliberate, even for the colder seasons.

It is all gorgeous stuff, but nothing there sings out "You must have me now!" in the right key. In fairness, our shopper concedes that the store is in its early days here, and given a couple of seasons, could hone its offerings better to the wants and needs of New Yorkers —or maybe just to our shopper. Tomorrowland may be better tomorrow, but The Shophound stopped by for a quick look last week, and we thought that Tomorrowland looked pretty damn good for today.

Critical Shopper: Reason to Keep Coming Back to Tomorrowland By Jon Caramanica
Tomorrowland 476 Broome Street between Wooster & Greene Streets, SoHo


Seattle Comes To SoHo edition

24CRITICAL5-articleLargeThis week's Thursday Styles sends Critical Shopper Molly Young to SoHo for a survey of Totokaelo, the vertically sprawling new boutique from Seattle that has become an auspicious addition to Manhattan's shopping roster. Our shopper, a Pacific Northwest native, offers an illuminating interpretation of Totokaelo's abundance of luxurious but loose, often shroudlike garments, "There’s something about the temperature and moisture content of the air there that makes a person want to swaddle herself in garments that are half hug, half anesthetic." The same appeal holds in New York, which has its own pressures that might make a person want to spend the day swathed in something cozy.
After a detour into the store's subterranean men's department —a literal man-cave— Young ascends the many levels of women's offerings to further explore. Totokaelo's signature look is not to be approached without some expertise, however, as our shopper describes some of the items she has encountered as making her look like "a sack of cornmeal" and, comfort benefits notwithstanding, "uniquely unflattering to all of my body parts". As for a peculiar preponderance of jumpsuits, our shopper writes, "If you’re in the mood to hit the playground or just to obscure your secondary sex characteristics, any of these will do the job."
Well, that is a very specific customer, but as we know, in New York, there is a store for every kind of person.

Critical Shopper: Jumpsuits, 7 Days A Week at Totokaelo’s SoHo Store By Molly Young (NYTimes)
Totokaelo 54 Crosby Street between Broome & Spring Streets, SoHo.


Totokaelo Is The New York-iest Store To Ever Come Out Of Seattle

New Yorkers have not always been kind to ambitious fashion retailers from other cities coming to make a splash here. While a store like Jeffrey can boldly arrive from Atlanta and become a popular city fixture, we can never forget when the widely admired Louis Boston arrived here years ago with a lavish midtown store at 57th and Lexington only shutter within a few years, shunned by city shoppers. Naturally, we were wary when we heard that a designer boutique from clear across the country in Seattle called Totokaelo (pronounced Toh-toh-KYE-oh —remember it) would be opening a five-level store next to the back-side of Bloomingdale's in SoHo. How would such a bold move be accepted by New York's discerning and often merciless shoppers who already have an excess of exceptional stores to shop in? After our first visit, however, it seems clear that the store couldn't be better conceived, not for everyone, but specifically for a certain type of New Yorker —specifically that faction of city dwellers who dress along the Belgian/Japanese axis that eschews runway trends in favor of  loose but inventively styled, usually black garments. In fact, the store's stock appears to consist of about 75% black clothes if not more. The women's shoe section featured only a few styles with high, chunky heels, emphasizing esoteric flats and minimalist sneakers instead. This is not the place for shoppers in search of spindly stilettos or glitzy embellishment, but there are plenty of other places to shop for those things in New York. 
With three levels above ground and two below, Totokaelo makes the most of an unusually long and narrow building with staggered floors and double height ceilings creating a deceptively airy atmosphere. There's an open-air terrace at the top for everyone who makes it up all the stairs —an elevator is conspicuously absent from the store's otherwise clever design. Downstairs, there is a small section for denim and basics, and yet another level below is the men's section with a distinctly different ambiance featuring black walls and louder music. The lighting could use some improvement here as drama sometimes trumps actually seeing the clothes, but as with the rest of the store, staffers are friendly and helpful without being oppressive. You will find many of the same designers as in the women's sections like Rick Owens, Marni, Maison Margiela, Acne Studios, Ann Demeulemeester, Yohji Yamamoto and Dries Van Noten, but while the store is full of familiar such labels, there is also a smattering of lesser known designers for New Yorkers to discover as well.
Every new store has its growing pains, but perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised that Totokaelo is so New York-ready. Its creative and merchandising teams relocated here last January giving them plenty of time to study our peculiar ways and tastes. Opening the store at the beginning of Fashion Week was smartly timed for maximum publicity, and if all goes well, Totokaelo is poised to quickly settle in as a mainstay on New York's shopping circuit.

Totokaelo now open at 54 Crosby Street between Broome & Spring Streets, SoHo.


A Jester's Revival In SoHo Edition

10CRITIC1-master675The Critical Shopper makes a return in today's Thursday Styles as Molly Young drags her brother Ned to the recently opened Moschino boutique in SoHo. We have been to Moschino and experienced its gallery-of-fashion-puns aesthetic for ourselves, but our shopper has revived the ageless trope of bringing a rube to experience high style. She collects her brother from painting crates on a Chinatown roof (?) to the sleek store which expresses designer Jeremy Scott's recent reimagining of the Italian label. "Like wandering onto a cereal box" is Young's rather apt description of the stage-set-like store where Scott is presenting not only his own interpretations of the Moschino style, but more than a few apparent replications of products that made the label famous in the first place.
Truth be told, The Shophound has always found Moschino to be tremendously entertaining as a brand, but one we wouldn't be caught dead in. Mainly, it's because we have always felt that one's clothes shouldn't be funnier than oneself, however brother Ned ultimately feels otherwise.

During our circuit, Ned became ensorcelled by a pair of denim shorts ($325) printed with a trompe l’oeil pattern of other denim swatches. He tried them on.
“You look insane,” a salesman said.

Like a good sister, our shopper buys matching pants for herself which she describes as "not so much pants as a vortex of denim Op Art".
Are we to buy this story?
Perhaps we are just jealous that Ned is apparently a gentleman handyman who has $325 to blithely throw away on shorts that sound truly ridiculous looking.
And, really, who wouldn't be?

Critical Shopper: At Moschino in SoHo, a Tweety Bird Sweater and Other Charms By Molly Young (NYTimes)
Moschino 73 Wooster Street between Broome & Spring Streets, SoHo
Flagship Flash: Moschino's New Boutique Is A Double Nostalgia Trip For SoHo


Last Minute Sales From BLK DNM & Carhartt Work In Progress

Hey Sample Sale Shoppers,

As always, there are a few last minute sale announcements that make what was otherwise a quiet sale week into an event. In the past couple of days we have discovered two new ones you will want to make note of, and they are only a few blocks from each other in SoHo, so you can make a single excursion.
The heritage workwear trend is still with us, but you won't look like you wandered in from a mechanic's garage if you hit the CARHARTT WORK IN PROGRESS sale on Crosby Street. This European based cult label takes the brand known for outfitting construction workers and morphs it into stylish sportswear for men and women. Savings of 70% are offered as well as stock from previous seasons.
When you are done there, you can head over to Mulberry Street  for the BLK DNM sample sale. The label known for perfectly styled jeans and other luxury basics like moto jackets and well-tailored camel coats is promising up to 80% off its collections for men and women, a great opportunity to update and stock up on your wardrobe's staple items.
Look for the red stars on our SALE ROLL sidebar at left for all the details on both sales, and see the flyers after the jump.

Continue reading "SAMPLE CIRCUIT:

Last Minute Sales From BLK DNM & Carhartt Work In Progress" »


Totokaelo from Seattle and Repetto From Paris Set To Enter SoHo

Cue the Trumpian Xenophobia.
Two retailers from far, far away are set to enter the shopping fray in SoHo as the Fall influx of new stores starts taking shape.
First off, Seattle, Washington boutique Totokaelo (keep practicing saying that) will be opening its first satellite location at 54 Crosby Street between Broome and Spring Streets right next to the backside of Bloomingdale's. The store will occupy 8,400 square feet over five floors (rendering pictured above) and two outdoor areas in a narrow building with dramatic, open skylit spaces. Like the mother-ship in Seattle, the new store is expected to carry a curated mix of directional designer clothing for women and men like Haider Ackermann, Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester to name a few, along with home furnishings and objets d'art. The folks at Totokaelo are so dedicated to the store's expansion that they have moved their creative and merchandising teams to New York permanently. We won't have to wait too long to find out if the risk was worth it. Totokaelo is set to open just after Labor Day on September 10th.

New Yorkers will be somewhat more familiar with Repetto, the French footwear label best known for ballet flats in myriad designs and colors. The brand is set to open its first New York store on November on West Broadway in a 2,350 square foot space near Anthropoligie, Ralph Lauren's RRL and fellow Parisian Ladurée. The store is set to open just in time for the company's launch of the Opera line, its first collection of high heeled shoes. The label will also have space for its new ready-to-wear collection as well as fragrances, a special dance section and an atelier which can offer customization with a choice of 250 colors. Uptown Repetto fans can look forward to another another location near them, probably on Madison Avenue, to be announced soon as the brand embarks on a plan to dramatically increase its presence in the U.S. market and makes the transition form exclusive ballet-shoe resource to fully-fledged fashion brand.

Totokaelo Readies Crosby Street Location, Repetto to Open First Store in Manhattan (WWD)


Moschino's New Boutique Is A Double Nostalgia Trip For SoHo

The revival and reanimation of longstanding fashion brands is in air at retail at the moment. Will the new revamped Gucci style create the kind of sensation that Tom Ford's revival did 20 years ago? Will a new designer re-invigorate Balenciaga? Will movie mogul Harvey Weinstein be able to make the Charles James label relevant for this century? Will Schiaparelli accomplish the same feat?
For the past couple of decades or so, the Moschino brand has quietly chugged profitably along, something nobody expected after its irreverent namesake designer died in 1994, but a couple of years ago, its parent company, AEFFE, decided to shake things up by hiring the cult designer Jeremy Scott to take over the brand's creative direction. Gone were the ancillary profit-making lines like Cheap and Chic and Love Moschino, and a return to outrageous runway shows was implemented. Suddenly, the new Jeremy Scott-powered Moschino is the hottest label around especially for celebrities who were already fans of the new creative director like Katy Perry and Madonna.
Part of Scott's creative strategy was to not just to re-interpret some classic Moschino codes, but to bring them back almost entirely. Rarely has a creative director been so in tune with the deceased namesake of his brand, and the merchandise hanging in the new Moschino boutique that opened this week on Wooster Street in SoHo (pictured above) gives shoppers the feeling of being transported back into the designer's late 1980s heyday. Even the original "Moschino Couture!" label has be revived as the familiar Chanel spoof quilted bags and glitzy logo belts are once again on display along with snarky slogans emblazoned on otherwise innocuous LBDs and dinner suits. The sartorial puns run rampant as giant stiletto pumps and handbags provide display space for more humanly scaled accessories and shoes like a pair of sandals made from measuring tape. In fact, the 3,500 square foot shop is designed more like an art gallery than a functioning clothing boutique —which is also a nod not to the late Franco Moschino, but to the SoHo neighborhood of the late 1980s, when it was still full of art galleries and had not yet fully transitioned into the retail destination that it is today. Brobdingnagian hangers suspended from the ceiling form the clothing racks holding carefully spaced garments delicately placed just so in a manner that discourages any casual touching, let alone taking a hanger off the rack. It only amplifies the store' gallery ambiance, which seems to be intentional. A friendly staffer made sure to let us know that there was additional, less extravagant stock in the back that he could bring out if we wanted to see it, but that would have made the place like an actual store. We preferred to enjoy the time machine that Scott and the folks at Moschino have set up for true Moschino fans. Will they turn into actual customers? That remains to be seen, although the folks at AEFFE seem to be very happy with how the revamped label has been performing in recent seasons. For now, anyway the new store is poised to be a must-visit destination for Moschino fans and and anyone else who dreams of fashion's past decades.

Moschino 73 Wooster Street between Broome & Spring Streets, SoHo



Adidas Originals Will Move To Spring Street This September

Adidas Originals has a distinctive store on Wooster Street (pictured above) with a retractable garage door-style front that opens up to the street when the weather permits. It's a cute, memorable store that does a great job of representing the sub-brand's image only a few blocks away from the big Adidas flagship at Broadway and Houston Street.
For a corporately owned showcase, it has some personality.
So it's moving.
The Observer reports that Adidas has leased a 3,100 square foot space with another 2,100 square feet in the basement for 10 years at 115 Spring Street between Mercer and Greene streets that used to be the Opera Gallery, one of the few remnants of the days when SoHo was really a gallery district with a few high fashion boutiques scattered throughout. Reportedly, the gallery's lease was bought out by the landlord, apparently to snare a more lucrative retail tenant.
Though it is currently on a desirable but relatively quiet block of Wooster between Houston and Prince Streets, the new space will bring Adidas Originals a little bit closer to the hustle and bustle of SoHo's Broadway stretch on the more heavily foot-trafficked Spring Street. The store is eyeing a September opening, but it is unlikely that the open-air front will be replicated in the landmarked district, so enjoy the airy Wooster Street shop while you can.

Adidas Relocating Soho Store to SL Green Property (Commercial Observer)


Anna Sui To Move Her SoHo Store

Anna Sui held a blowout archive sale last week, which can often signal some kind of big news. Band of Outsiders shut down right after its huge sample sale, but, luckily, Sui's sale was only a housecleaning in advance of a relocation next month to 484 Broome Street (pictured above)  between Wooster Street and West Broadway. According to WWD, Greene Street has gotten a bit too posh for the bohemian designer, "All the spaces are turning into very high-end luxury boutiques. It seems like all the cooler shops are moving south. I will certainly be closer there to other stores that also suit my customer.  The new location matches my sensibility and aesthetics much more." The 23-year old Greene Street store is expected to close early next month with the new boutique set to open a few weeks later in July.

Anna Sui Relocates SoHo Flagship (WWD)


Vera WangBattles Her SoHo Landlord

Inside the SoHo boutique Vera Wang may lose over a dispute with her landlord.

Retail real estate is renting at such high levels right now that it doesn't really matter if a landlord has a prestigious and desirable renter. Tenants who aren't paying optimum prices for leases in pricey neighborhoods are almost guaranteed to be pushed out including tony designers like Vera Wang, who has just sued the landlords of her Mercer Street boutique in SoHo (pictured left). Premier Equities purchased the retail condo of 158 Mercer Street earlier this year and promptly billed her for $272,000 in back taxes on her $45,920 monthly rent since her store opened in 2007. Wang contends that the previous owner covered the taxes, and the new owners simply want to oust her because she is paying around $220 per square foot while the average asking rate is now nearly $1,000 for a location like hers. While Wang's lease is up in 2016, she has the option to renew for five more years, which would make it a long wait for the owners to optimize their revenues from the building's retail space. How the case will shake out remains unclear, but it shows that landlords, particularly ones that have just taken over a property with existing clients, are becoming increasingly ruthless, even with presumably enviable clients.

Bridezilla: Vera Wang sues landlord to keep Soho lease (The Real Deal)