Recherché Edition

30CRITICAL1_COMBO-master675In today's Thursday Styles, our Critical Shopper menswear specialist Jon Caramanica is on a search for something that may not really be a thing yet: Men's High-End Vintage Clothing. He doesn't find a whole lot. Here's what we learned:

There's no menswear equivalent for the celebrated treasure troves of women's vintage fashion like Resurrection or Decades. Why is this? Probably because over the years, there has been only a tiny amount of high fashion menswear produced in comparison to women's. Additionally, a lot of it is boring. Generally, menswear, even designer menswear, is less distinctive than women's fashions, particularly in past decades. Also, more notable pieces are less translatable to contemporary style. A women's Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ensemble from the 1970s would be a prized find in a vintage shop and something to be worn with pride by a stylish woman with a few modern accessories to update it for today. A man's Saint Laurent suit from the same year would more likely be an awkwardly tailored relic. In theory, it could be a cool, vintage look, and possibly there are a few hipsters who could pull off the dated proportions, but it's a challenge —that is if you can find such a thing at all. Typically, men's styles have evolved much more slowly over the years than women's, and so men wear their clothes longer than women. They are more likely to discard something because it has been worn out —and therefore in no condition for resale— than because they have tired of the style. So, there is less turnover, and when men do get rid of stuff, it is more often headed to the trash heap than the resale store.

Still, our shopper hunts around, and rather than focusing on a single dedicated retailer, he makes a tour of vintage and resale shops ranging from the places focused on recent fashion like INA, where some of the offerings may not be priced far from their original tags, to more well known sellers like What Goes Around Comes Around. Real midcentury vintage men's apparel costs as much as or more than new designer threads at the East Village's Stock Vintage which emphasizes just how scarce it is.

So maybe our shopper is looking for something that barely exists, although if you are looking for designer menswear from recent seasons, you might have better luck searching on YOOX or even Bluefly, where discounted past merchandise can sometimes hang around long enough to almost start having vintage appeal —and it hasn't been worn before, which means it will smell a lot better when you open the package.

Critical Shopper: Where Can Men Buy Higher-End Vintage Men’s Wear? By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)


Rent Hike Forces Beacon's Closet Out Of Longtime Williamsburg Home

BeaconsWilliamsburgThe Williamsburg gentrification machine has now reached that critical point where the neighborhood is no longer affordable to those who made it desirable. We have seen this before, in SoHo, The East Village, The Meatpacking District, NoLita and The Lower East Side to name a few neighborhoods, and we will see it again. The latest casualty is stalwart Williamsburg fixture Beacon's Closet, the popular retailer that has provided many a bohemian customer with gently priced used clothing, along with a place to pick up extra cash for their own discarded duds. Like many former or aspiring Williamsburg residents, the store will be decamping to Greenpoint after an untenable rent hike at its longtime North 11th Street home. Beacon's closet founder Carrie Peterson tells Crain's, "It seems like a lot of landlords are assigning arbitrary pricing to their spaces and just waiting to see what big fish or national chain will come and take the bait." In the past decade, rents in the soon-to-be-former hipster nucleus have increased five to six-fold, making it increasingly less hospitable to the kinds of funky establishments that made Williamsburg interesting in the first place. Children's consignment shop Flying Squirrel and Academy Records Annex will also be following Peterson to Greenpoint, which can only mean that in 10 years, we will be telling you how greedy landlords are forcing retailers out of gentrifying Greenpoint. Look for the relocated Beacon's Closet to re-open in a 7,500-square-foot space at 74 Guernsey Street between Nassau and Norman Avenues in the next couple of months.

Soaring Billyburg rents force out another retailer By Adrianne Pasquarelli (Crain's)


Steven Alan Hosting
A Designer Swap Meet This Month

Re-ClosetIt's unusual for a retailer to encourage customers to bring clothes back to the store, but then, Steven Alan has always been an unconventional sort of shopkeeper. Later this month his Franklin Street showroom will be hosting an event with the online re-selling community Material Wrld called RE-CLOSET in which customers are invited to either bring in 5 to 10 pieces of clothing they would like to sell, or come a few days later to buy what is being offered —or both.

You won't be allowed to dump just anything in a bin and collect your cash, however. They will be accepting only women's and men's designer or high-end vintage clothes, accessories or shoes in excellent condition that can be resold for above $50 at the minimum, so no H&M castoffs or odd pieces that got a drink spilled on them. On the plus side, this could be an excellent opportunity to shed some of those ill-advised sample sale purchases we all have hiding in our closets. Specifically, they warn, "No handmade, mass brands, fast fashion, odors, counterfeit items, children’s clothing, and no tears and stains," so be warned: all donations will be scrutinized. Sign up HERE to sell.

If you are looking to buy, however, you can RSVP HERE to shop on Sunday April 28th where thay will be serving hors d'oeuvres, complimentary drinks and are even promising a Taco Truck parked at the curb.

Sellers will receive 50% of the ticket price if their items sell, so for those of you with no patience to re-sell on eBay or with other consignment shops (which is perfectly understandable) it can be a great way to squeeze some cash out of your own overstuffed closet.

Steven Alan x Material Wrld RE-CLOSET
Steven Alan Showroom 87 Franklin Street between Broadway & Church Street, Tribeca
Register to SELL on April 25-27 HERE
RSVP to SHOP on April 28th HERE


Nouveau '90s Nostalgia Edition

12CRITICAL3-popupIn today's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica goes on the Vintage Streetwear tour. He ably proves his credibility on such matters by revealing that hidden in his closet is the very same style of Tommy Hilfiger hockey jersey that was worn by the late rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard in the video Mariah Carey made for "Fantasy" back before she was completely loopy and he was dead.

With that cherished memento in mind, He time-traipses through that sneaker fetishist's paradise that is Flight Club's consignment store, recently relocated from Mercer to Greene street. It is here that he indulges his inner-urban-geek losing himself in the minutiae of this particular clothing genre like a trekkie at Comic-Con.

For a few years, Flight Club’s consignment store... has been a place of comfort, as close as I can come to shopping in my own teenage closet. This is commerce as sense memory, as narcotic, as personal museum.

Talking to the store’s affable manager is akin to a college class in defunct fashion, trading minute details about fabric choices or stitching patterns on lines that haven’t been in production for two decades.

We understand. Sometimes we get a twinge of that feeling when we wander into Leffot.

But that's not enough. In search of a greater fix, he explores the newer competitor Community 54, but it is here that he seems to remember one of the cardinal rules of retro-wear: If you wore it the first time around, then walk away. Leave it for someone else to discover.

Critical Shopper: Where the Racks Hold Ghosts of Our Youth By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Flight Club New York 254 Greene Street near Waverly Place, NoHo
Community 54 54 Clinton Street near Rivington Street, Lower East Side


Favorite Haunt Edition

Z-CRITIC-2-popup In today's Thursday Styles, this week's Critical Shopper, Alexandra Jacobs travels what sounds like a well trodden path to 1 Of A Find, a Prospect Heights vintage store that is clearly one of her personal favorites. That's fair game, certainly, but espite the obvious bias, it sure seems like there is an exceptional vintage store hidden away in Brooklyn that falls somewhere between the rarefied couture boutiques like Resurrection and the dusty racks of lower end resale stores. Jacobs is particularly taken with owner Honey Moon's discerning eye for the kind of old stuff a certain type of New Yorker will covet.

For those who believe vintage (another pretentious euphemism, meant to give castoffs the cachet of fine wine) means clawing itchily through rack after rack of stuff, there is within a mile the Salvation Army on Atlantic Avenue, Beacon’s Closet on Fifth or the cheerful but chaotic Hooti Couture on Flatbush. OOAF showcases rather an awareness, whether instinctive or studied, of current trends.

Sounds like a little gem, and we certainly hope that Jacobs hasn't ruined her favorite shopping excursion by sending throngs of vintage loving Times readers scrambling to Prospect Heights to clean the place out. That kooky column can have all sorts of effects on a store.

Critical Shopper: Not So New, but Not Forgotten By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
1 Of A Find 633 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn


Vintage Deluxe Edition

Z-CRITIC-B-popup A little more than a year ago, Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson left L.A.'s famous vintage dealer Lily et Cie with a bitter taste in her mouth and the platform to tell the world about it. In today's Thursday Styles, she keeps closer to home at the somewhat less rarefied but somehow equally exclusive Shareen Vintage in the Flatiron District. Discreetly located upstairs, and open for extremely limited hours, Shareen seems like the diametric opposite of Lily with a broad range of merchandise to offer at reasonable prices and no boys allowed, ever. This policy is designed to have the effect of a genial locker room where, ideally, women can give each other advice and guidance,

I tried on a fluorescent pink-orange St. John knit dress from the mid-1960s — very “Mad Men,” with gold buttons up the front. With a visible question mark over my head, I turned to a girl who I assumed from various overheard remarks was an aspiring stylist. She appraised me with careful and squinty attention. “You know?” she eventually winced, through her big glasses, “maybe it’s not the greatest color on your skin.”

This kind of shopping is clearly not for the faint of heart or fragile of ego, but then a store hidden away on the second floor an open only five afternoons a week is probably only meant for seasoned pros anyway, right?

Critical Shopper: Adopting a Look, No Boys Allowed by Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Shareen Vintage 13 West 17th Street, 2nd Floor, Between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, Flatiron District

Vintage News:

Gucci Looks Back And Sets Prices

Guccicollector It's strangely slow starting this week over at The Shophound. Even the first Menswear shows for Fall 2010 are looking sedate and self referential. In the spirit of looking back, the story of the day concerns Gucci and Christie's who have joined forces to launch the Gucci Collector mini-site today. It's an unusual team-up that allows the luxury house to participate more closely in the valuation of its heritage, and We're sure the folks at Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Chanel are watching closely to see how things progress with this venture.
The subsection of Christie's website allows people who have been keeping or collecting vintage Gucci pieces to have them appraised by the auction house —and by vintage we really mean pre-Tom Ford or earlier, and are pretty confident that Christie's does too. They are also offering the possible opportunity of Gucci buying special pieces back for their own upcoming museum or Christie's including items in future vintage fashion sales. All they need are clear color images of the front and back of the item, and a close-up of the Gucci signature or mark as well as dimensions, materials and other details. A history of the item as well as any authenticating receipts or tags or other materials are also requested. Christie's promises a response within two to four weeks.
Mom's old purse might turn out to be a little gold mine after all.
• In other news, the folks at Refinery 29 has gotten their hands of the look books for Target's upcoming Jean Paul Gaultier and Zac Posen collections, but were then promptly asked to remove the images! As far as we can tell from what we briefly glimpsed, they both look a lot better than the disappointing Rodarte items we finally saw in person at Target in Brooklyn yesterday.
Alessandro Dell'Acqua is back in the game with a new, sportier label called No 21 launching at Milan's upcoming fashion week. Much like Roland Mouret, Joseph Abboud and many others, Dell'Acqua no longer owns the commercial rights to his own name, and has titled the line after his December birthday. The designer promises wearable everyday clothes.
• And, yes, you have heard correctly, Sarah Jessica Parker is now the President and Chief Creative Officer of Halston. It's more than the advisory position we had heard about, and yet with her previous fashion experience (remember Bitten?) and smart business sense, we think this could actually work. Marios Schwab, who has yet to début his first Halston collection, will remain in position, while Parker is initially expected to focus on the Halston Heritage line, which revives vintage designs from the label's archives. Somehow, we expect a warmer reception for this development than there was for Lindsay Lohan's infamous collaboration at Emanuel Ungaro, mainly because SJP is not an erratic party girl, but now the pressure is really on for Halston's owners to finally engineer a successful revival of the brand.
Speaking of Ungaro, WWD has a look at current designer Estrella Arch's pre-fall looks. The jury is still out on Archs, but conspicuously absent are sequined nipple pasties and any mention of La Lohan.

Cintra Wilson Goes Shopping:

Exclusive Vintage Vault Edition

ArticleLarge At what point did selling vintage clothing become a snootier profession than selling the real stuff?
Still on the West Coast, this week's Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson continues the column's recent travelogue theme with a visit to Lily et Cie in Beverly Hills, one of the most celebrated used clothing purveyors of the moment. La Cintra pulls no punches in recounting the high-handed treatment she received from owner Rita Watnick, who handily lives up to her haughty reputation and then some. If you think Manhattan's boutiques can be intimidating and condescending, , that's nothing compared to L.A., where one's level of celebrity (or, more to the point, lack thereof) is an extra, crucial component in the sizing up of customers.
Since I was just throwing on a coat, I assured them I didn’t require a dressing room. Or delousing, for that matter.
“Daniel Hechter?” I asked the tracksuited Ms. Watnick, looking at the unfamiliar label. I pronounced it “Hector.”
“It’s Daniel hesh-TAY, darling,” she clarified, as if to say: “You don’t know your French designers from the early ’70s? Is this the first time you’ve worn shoes since leaving the Ozarks?”
Cintra is entirely correct in guessing that $795 is a ridiculous price for a trench coat in far from pristine condition by a second (or possibly third) tier designer from decades gone by, even if it's French. Lily et Cie sounds more like museum storage overseen by a prickly governess than a retail store, which is fitting, since Ms. Watnick sees herself as a curator rather than a storekeeper, to her own detriment, apparently.
You would think that the svelte, glamorous Ms. Wilson would be any boutique owner's dream customer, but not there. Of course, with such an influential platform, She wields her own potent form of redress for such callous treatment. If only Rita had known at whom she was looking down her nose —a lesson to retail staff everywhere.
Critical Shopper | Lily et Cie: Vintage Clothing, Red-Carpet Ready by Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Lily et Cie, 9044 Burton Way, Beverly Hills

Cintra Wilson Goes Shopping:

Pricey Pre-Owned Edition

ArticleLargeThis week's Critical Shopper column pulls Cintra Wilson off the designer boutique circuit and sends her into the world of vintage, although, it must be said, she winds up in the world of SoHo vintage shops, which is not exactly a huge leap.
In fact, it is safe to say that Chelsea Girl and Laurel Canyon, the pair of stores graced with her visits, sell old clothes for many times their original purchase prices. "The most popular rack is a collection of never-before-worn, Diane Von Furstenberg deadstock from 1976: wraparound career dresses ($225) that look very right-this-second with their orange palm tree and New Wave Dalmatian prints," she writes, and yet, we are pretty sure that in 1976, a DVF wrap dress retailed for around $100 at the most.
Of course, this is vintage as collectible, which is nothing new to New York shoppers, and these stores are not to be compared with rummaging through Beacon's Closet.
La Cintra shines this week when she places the merchandise she encounters in in context, real or, better, imaginary:

Ms. Casas had me try on a “stunning crochet vest with Victorian silhouette, $275.” It was a Korean-made, acrylic macramé cardigan from the early ’70s that looked like something Better Homes and Gardens would feature as an autumn sofa decoration. On the body, however, it was slim, fitted and had a remarkably shaped bustle, a design diamond plucked from the detritus of the past.

A glamtastic black wool Givenchy dress had strips of white rhinestones outlining diamond-shape cutouts at the bust and rib cage, and must have been worn by Nancy Sinatra around the baccarat table ($750).

Of course, you might not want to think too hard about where those clothes came from. That early Calvin Klein coat priced at $950 seems like a good deal for a Calvin coat that might go for a couple of thousand today, even if it only originally cost maybe $300.
Critical Shopper: The Reunion Tour, for Clothes Only By Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Laurel Canyon 63 Thompson Street at Broome Street
Chelsea Girl 186 Spring Street at Thompson Street, SoHo

Benefit Event Of The Week:

The Lighthouse Kicks Off
Its Annual POSH Sale This Thursday

The Sample Sale schedule looks a little light this week, but it's probably just as well since a POSH weekend in midtown is coming up.
Lighthouse International's 37th Annual POSH Sale has been a mainstay benefit for 37 years, and it promises to be as big as ever when it opens to the public on Thursday. The Shophound got a special preview of some of the choice offerings last week and being the scavengers that we are, we could have spent hours diving through the racks perusing the couture castoffs donated for the event.
PoshSHOESFor starters, there were piles of Chanel, (pictured above) for a few hundred dollars (as opposed to a few thousand), and pieces available from nearly every major designer  you can think of. Most item are gently worn with the exception of a size run of golden jackets from Christian Lacroix with their tags still attached provided directly from the designer, as well as other unworn donations.
There are celebrity contributions including  boxes from Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis full of clothes and accessories, many worn on "Sex And The City". Singer Ciara and a bunch of Real Housewives have also added to the bounty all of which amounts to the vast high-end thrift store hard core vintage shoppers dream of. Most of the items ore of relatively recent origin, but the truly persistent will discover museum worthy gems like the aqua beaded and fringed jacket from Halston (the real Halston) dating from somewhere around the late 1970s.
PoshHALSTON Lighthouse volunteers were quick to let me know that aside from the trove of couture, there will be lots of more casual, less expensive items for much lower prices available at the sale, so don't be scared off if you can't really fit a Chanel suit or a sparkling evening jacket into your lifestyle.
After a benefit preview dinner on Tuesday evening and benefit shopping hours on Wednesday, the sale will open to the public at 11 AM on Thursday, and run through Sunday at the Lighthouse Headquarters in midtown. Look for the long line.
Lighthouse International's 37th Annual POSH Sale May 14th through 17th,  Thursday - Saturday: 11 AM - 7 PM, Sunday: 11 AM - 5 PM
110 East 60th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues
Daily Tickets: $10
Four-Day Pass: $30
May 13th Sneak Preview and Cocktail Party: $250 & $200, more info at