KATHERINE BERNARD GOES SHOPPING:

Insta-Dressing In SoHo Edition

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Photo by Emily Andrews for The New York Times

A new Critical Shopper has arrived at the Thursday Styles today. We don't know if Katherine Bernard will take over Molly Young's women's shopping duties permanently, but she does give us a respectable survey of the new Balmain boutique that quietly opened its doors earlier this month in SoHo. Don't worry if you are concerned that glittering label's thirst for publicity is starting to wane. The official opening party is scheduled as this year's Met Ball after-party on Monday night. Now you can picture the requisite Kardashian/West/Jenner extravaganza, and our shopper reminds us that it is almost impossible to make mention of the Balmain brand without also using the words Kardashian and Instagram. She also notes pointedly that Instagram followers do not necessarily translate into throngs of eager customers. Despite Balmain's social media following of multiple millions, the store is a quiet and serene environment in neutral shades of beige and black when she visits mostly because clicking 'like' and 'follow' are free, but owning single piece of Balmain apparel beyond a $365 t-shirt requires four figure investment at minimum. And what of those clothes? They are tight.

These clothes are honest. They hold you. My designer friend tells me that the fabric embrace comes from technically advanced four-way stretch. There’s pull and lift. There’s no darting or corseting, it’s just extremely special fabric.

Ultimately, the experience seems like a taste of fantasy, complete with a salesperson impersonating a paparazzo. For better or worse, Balmain and its once reserved designer Olivier Roustieng has thrown their lot in with social media stars and red carpet glitz. The rabid rush for last Fall's H&M collaboration collection proved that, so if runway walking  in glittery opulence is your aspiration (and within your means), your boutique has arrived.

Critical Shopper: The Balmain Army Steps Out By Katherine Bernard (NYTimes)
Balmain 100 Wooster Street between Spring & Prince Streets, SoHo


POP-UP ALERT:

Kanye West Is Having A Pop-Up Shop In SoHo Today Through Sunday

Here at The Shophound, we admit we have not been at the forefront of breathlessly covering the fashion comings and goings of celebrity vortex Kanye West, but it might be remiss of us not to pass along the intriguing information that he is holding a pop-up shop in SoHo starting today at 4 PM through Sunday on Wooster Street.
From the above tweet, it would seem that the shop is centered around his current, constantly changing album, The Life Of Pablo. It isn't the first time he has had album-related pop-up shops, but this particular release doesn't seem to be following any conventional formula. There's also the vague possibility that this is where he will release his Yeezy Season 2 collection, or at least some of it, since, as far as we can tell, it has not appeared at all in any retail stores despite his already having extravagantly shown a Season 3 line during New York Fashion Week last month. Or perhaps Season 2 will never come out since Adidas refused to produce the apparel items because they were too expensive. Who knows?
If you are a Kanye fan, then you will want to hightail it down to SoHo as soon as possible.
If you hate mob scenes, then you will know to steer clear of Wooster Street between Broome and Spring Streets this afternoon.


PUFFER PREMIUM:

Canada Goose Will Debut In New York On Wooster Street

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It hasn't been a particularly cold winter overall, but that isn't enough to discourage Canada Goose, the puffer jacket pros from the Great White North, from establishing a beachhead in SoHo in the space that another rugged outfitter, Patagonia, once called home. The 4,000 square foot space at 101 Wooster Street has been occupied intermittently by pop-ups and sample sales since its previous tenant moved to Greene Street, but the Canadian brand known for its pricey high-fill parkas should be secure there as it has become an increasingly popular label for both its technical qualities and it's ever more coveted street style appeal over the past few years. So far as we can tell, this will be Canada Goose's first freestanding U.S. retail store. Exactly what it will do during the sweltering New York City summers remains to be seen, but perhaps they will simply be one of those stores that does its business when is cold and lets its staff take vacation time during the off-season. No opening date has been disclosed, but sometime before this year's Holiday Season is a safe bet, if not earlier.

Apparel brand sets down between Spring & Prince (NYPost)


FOOTWEAR UPGRADE:

Melissa Shoes To Move To Former Tommy Hilfiger Space In SoHo

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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

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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.
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MOLLY YOUNG GOES SHOPPING:

Beyond Ballet Flats Edition

21CRITICAL4-articleLargeIn today's Thursday Styles, this week's Critical Shopper Molly Young makes her way to Soho to check out the Repetto flagship or Mecca for generations of ballet flat fans. it is not, however, the eternal ballet flat that interests out shopper this week. She gives it its proper historical context (Brigitte Bardot, Kate Moss, Amy Winehouse etc.), and there are clearly lots of them to be had there for both professional dancers and civilians alike, but it is the other items at Repetto that really catch our shopper's eye. The well priced sportswear gets its due, although it seems a little bit too well-priced to have actually been made in France, but the item that sticks is a fawn-colored ankle boot. "It felt like having someone gently blow kisses toward my foot from a distance," she describes, which seems tough to resist, even for $425. And yet, the delicacy that makes it such a treat for her feet is also its chief drawback, How could such a dainty piece of footwear stand up to the rough sidewalks of New York? Of her trusty shopping partner she finally says, ". . .I’m grateful for friends who remind me of the important things in life — like keeping the maximum amount of shoe between me and New York City’s fathomless secretions," —perhaps finally remembering the heartbreak of having a new pair of shoes destroyed by the very streets of the city we call home. We have all been there.

Critical Shopper: Be a French Girl. Or Just Look Like One. By Molly Young (NYTimes)
Repetto 400 West Broadway between Spring & Prince Streets, SoHo

 


MORE MUSICAL STOREFRONTS:

Fendi Is Moving Its SoHo Store Down The Block

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has quietly closed its SoHo store on the corner of Prince and Greene Streets, but it is not abandoning the neighborhood. According to the covered up windows, next month, a new store will open only halfway down the block at 104 Greene Street (pictured above), formerly an H.Stern jewelry store.
There was an H.Stern in SoHo?
FendiWindowSoHoYes, there was, but one could be forgiven for not noticing. Wedged between the Melissa shoe store and Design Within Reach, it is one of the few retail spaces in the neighborhood that has brick walls where windows should be. Inside is a long and narrow selling space, which could be made into a compelling store, but overall, it is a dismayingly inconspicuous space for a prized, LVMH controlled luxury brand —particularly compared to the infinitely more visible previous corner location at 122 Greene.
Maybe Fendi has yet to prove through sales numbers that it deserves a larger presence in the neighborhood. Vast corporate management can be tough on its brands at times. The previous store while exceedingly well-positioned, was particularly petite, serving as a focused showcase for handbags and accessories only. It was far from an extensive representation of Fendi's offerings, and the upcoming location may offer more space with its stretched out configuration, but the store's innocuous frontage makes us wonder if it may just be something of a placeholder until Fendi finds a more visible SoHo location that is more befitting of a celebrated brand and puts it on a more level footing with other boutiques of its ilk including Chanel, Dior, Burberry, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent and the like. In the meantime, we can check back in February to see how Fendi contends with its unusual new home.


TECH TERMINATION:

Google's SoHo Store Is Canceled

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Last year Google landed a lease at 131 Greene Street in SoHo (pictured above) for what was expected to be one of its first freestanding retail stores, not far from rival Apple's first New York store at the corner of Prince and Greene Streets. We would have expected the store to be opening right about now, but after an extensive renovation of the space that reportedly cost $6 million, it looks like Google has hit the delete key on its ambitious retail plan. The 5,442 square-foot space which would have been hawking Android phones and tablets, Chromebooks and any number of other products running Google software is now being marketed for subleasing, so anti-Apple tech enthusiasts will have to entertain themselves with Fifth Avenue's new Microsoft store for the time being.
According to a dedicated website for the space, the store has been dramatically remade and modernized, with historical cast-iron and exposed brick elements preserved and opened up with skylights. It is now a premium space for whatever retailer can swallow the $2.25 million annual rent —about $450 per square foot which is pretty much what one would expect for the block. Let the luxury groups have at it.

Google abandons plan to open first-ever retail store in New York City, but not before spending $6 million to renovate this SoHo space (Crain's)


POP-UP ALERTS:

Pop-Ups On The Way From Lands' End, Tie Bar, Spyder
and . . . Marc by Marc Jacobs?

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Holiday shopping season is almost upon us, which is the perfect time for any number of companies to get their feet wet in New York's daunting retail scene with pop-up stores. There is possibly no better way to gauge customer interest and get some crucial brand awareness than to have a temporary store on one of the city's high-profile shopping streets. here's a few to look out for with plenty more to come.

The Tie Bar is making a return appearance in the West Village at 411 Bleecker Street with an elegant shop already open and filled with impossibly inexpensive furnishings (pictured above). While even mid-range designer ties can reliably cost more than $100, The Tie Bar's neckwear offerings start at about $19 and rarely hit north of $30. Socks, belts, suspenders and, yes, actual tie bars and clips are all similarly priced, in a setting that could easily double for a much more expensive shop. The former James Perse women's store has been transformed into a genial haberdashery that will be open through the Holidays until January leaving plenty of timer any guy to get himself properly turned out for any occasion.

This week, look for upscale athletic brand Spyder's pop-up store at 68 Greene Street in SoHo to open its doors. We aren't sure exactly how long this one will be with us, but they are bringing the U.S. Ski Team to their opening party, so expect it to be a must-visit destination for the city's serious winter sports men and women while it lasts.

LandsEndPopUp650FifthOn November 11th, that white elephant at 650 Fifth Avenue that used to be the Juicy Couture flagship store (pictured at right) will finally get a decidedly less glitzy occupant as Lands' End moves in for for an extended stay through the end of January. While the longtime mail-order favorite has a small fleet of retail stores as well as a diminishing count of in-store shops in former parent company Sears stores, it has never had a flagship-sized store on this scale in a market like New York. After having been spun off from its flailing parent, Lands' End has been staffing up with some impressive hires including key executives with merchandising experience at places like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and J.Crew. Don't look for the brand to go all haute luxe right away, but an updated fashion image is in the offering. The brand has poached noted menswear designer Ian Velardi away from Bonobos as design director, and we already know he has a gift for adding a modern edge to traditional clothing. If things work out well enough, there's a hint that Lands' End may stay past January depending on the response from Holiday shoppers.

Finally, back own Bleecker Street, there's a bit of a pop-up mystery brewing. The windows at Marc Jacobs' teeny tiny men's store at 382 Bleecker Street have just been blacked out, leaving a message that reads, "Marc by Marc Jacobs Pop-Up Opening August 30th". We all know by now that the Marc by Marc Jacobs label will be history after this season as the line gets re-absorbed by a newly expanded main Marc Jacobs collection. Is the shop staging a final fare-well sale or a greatest hits collection? At the very least, one has to wonder how you can call your own longtime store a pop-up shop? We'll find out on Friday.
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MOLLY YOUNG GOES SHOPPING:

Versace Diffusion Profusion Edition

08CRITICAL5-blog427In today's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Molly Young informs us that a Versus boutique has quietly materialized on Greene Street, not far from the downtown home of its mother brand, Versace —and she is not entirely sold on it.
As usual, there is an extensive introduction to the label, a relic of the brand's '90s high point when there appeared to be an infinite number of sub-brands connected to Gianni Versace —Versus, Istante, Versace Jeans Couture, V2 Versace Classic, Versace Sport etc. etc...
With the company's more streamlined 21st Century model, the Versus label has been exhumed as a laboratory of sorts for emerging designers who can be trusted to keep the line's point of view well within the hidebound Versace aesthetic of sex, skin and Rock and roll. Current creative director Anthony Vaccarello seems to fit that bill nicely, turning out sexy dresses and separates that cost about a quarter of what analogous pieces in the premier Versace collection would go for, but our shopper is not swayed to even go through the perfunctory try-ons, wondering exactly who these offerings are aimed at. "Who is the Versus girl? I couldn’t extrapolate from customers on any of my visits, because there weren’t any," she writes in a cold jab that may say more about the store's quiet arrival than the public's appetite for Versace at a price. Still, this version of Versace seems more watered down to our shopper than re-interpreted, as her shopping companion suggests, “It seems like the kind of brand that would thrive in the duty-free section of an international airport”. Perhaps the shop's saving grace will be that SoHo remains teeming with tourists primed to respond to this sort of thing.

Critical Shopper: Versus Versace Store in SoHo: Caught in Transition By Molly Young (NYTimes)
Versus Versace 75 Greene Street between Broome & Spring Streets, SoHo