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Nike Eyeing Lower Mercer in SoHo?

NikesohoIs Nike finally coming to SoHo? Crain's New York Business is reporting that the sneaker giant is about to sign a lease at 21 Mercer Street between Grand and Howard Streets. While their Niketown superstore on East 57th Street is a huge draw for tourists and locals alike, they have never taken advantage of the business potential downtown as their rivals Puma and Adidas have, except for their exclusive NIKEiD Studio appointment-only shop on Elizabeth Street. The Mercer Street location would be a surprising choice, as it appears to be nowhere near the size of their uptown showplace, and somewhat off the beaten track. In fact it would seem to have virtually no notable retail neighbors at all below the storefronts on Grand Street. We will be watching this block with interest, but it seems clear that SoHo's prime retail space, once thought to end above Broome Street, is now being aggressively developed right up to Canal Street.

Steve Madden to Bring Cheap and Janky to Bleecker

StevemaddenbleeckerJust when you thought Bleecker Street was getting too fancy and expensive, along comes the news that Shoe manufacturer and ex convict Steve Madden will be transforming the unassuming storefront at no. 355 pictured at left into a boutique.
Yes, we are brimming with excited anticipation, too.
Of course, as we all know now, this is what happens when rents in a formerly charming shopping area skyrocket and the shops that made it interesting are forced out. It turns into a free-for-all for retailers with the deepest pockets, whether or not they are actually right for the street. Steve Madden would probably make more sense (and more money) nearby on 6th Avenue, instead of down the street from Mulberry and Brunello Cucinelli. While it appears they have only forced out the Bleecker Mini-Mart, our guess is that the residents of the neighborhood would rather have their deli back.

UNIQLO Report: Alice Roi & Satoru Tanaka Arrive ...Plus Flip-Flops

UniqloaliceroiAnd here is our final UNIQLO post of the week. Yes, we write about them a lot, and it's beginning to disturb us too. We are beginning to fee like UNIQLO stalkers, but we can't help it. Every time we walk in there we see a new t-shirt that we absolutely must have, and it's a lot cheaper than stalking Bergdorf's.
Anyway, Today we finally saw part 2 of their Designers Invitation Project featuring New York's Alice Roi for women and Japan's Satoru Tanaka for men. There was not quite a mob scene when we visited this morning, but that might be because it was pouring rain at that very moment. We expect the weekend crowds to have a field day. What we saw of Roi's collection looked good, and reflected her signature nerd/punk aesthetic well. The quality looked very good. The cotton Trapeze shaped tunic (pictured at right, center figure) included three different cotton fabrics with meticulously finished details. At $39.95, it could easily retail for several times that amount at Barneys. Most items came in multiple colors, and the retro chemise dress pictured came in black, white, and the multicolored neon print. This won't make Roi a household name in the U.S., though it should raise her profile in New York a bit. The real benefit for her is the exposure she will have in Japan and the Far East, where UNIQLO has around 750 stores. The collection is really geared towards that market rather than the U.S, which is evident in the sizing, in this case, XS to L.

Continue reading "UNIQLO Report: Alice Roi & Satoru Tanaka Arrive ...Plus Flip-Flops" »

The '80s are Back: Esprit Coming to Rockefeller Center

Espritrockefeller_2We should be getting all excited about this, like its 1984 or something! Esprit was everywhere back in the '80s. Real People Ads, Catalogs, Superstores etc. etc., and then it started fading when the decade turned, apparently a victim of founders Doug & Susie Tompkins' ugly divorce. The company eventually got sold, packed itself up and went to Europe where it flourished. When they returned to New York a couple of years ago, they had transformed themselves from the junior resource evryone remembered into more of a contemporary lifestyle brand, bewildering its former customers. Now that they have taken a few years to retool, they are taking out 14,400 of former Barnes & Noble square feet at 600 Fifth Avenue at 48th Street, and are ready to expand aggressively having recovered from the resounding thud of their return to this market. This will be the fourth Esprit store in Manhattan joining SoHo, Flatiron and Columbus Circle branches, but it will be the highest profile unit, and better able to take advantage of the tourists (slack-jawed and otherwise) who already know the brand and swarm Rockefeller Center. Will they be able to recapture their '80s glory days? We can expect to find out in November.

Mike Albo Goes Shopping: Museum Shopping Edition

26moma6001Our frontrunner Critical Shopper candidate Mike Albo returns today with a visit to one of The Shophound's favorite stores, The Museum of Modern Art Store. Mike points out that the museum-like atmosphere of the store seems to confer a special artsy gloss on the merchandise, even though much of it can be found in other stores. Here's a few things he forgot to mention:

  • Not Everything In The Store Is A Part Of The Museum's Permanent Collection. Some items, like the Eames Chair, the Josef Albers nesting tables and the Alvar Aalto bowls, are, but not all the merchandise, however well designed it may be, is an actual museum piece.
  • There Are Great Toys There. If you are sick of giving mass produced gifts based on cartoons to small children, then there is a great alternative. The toy section is full of clever toys that are fun for kids. Their good design is incidental, plus there are lits of great playthings for children who are artistically inclined. It's a great option for times when you can't bear Toys R Us (which in our case is always).
  • MUJI! Until the MUJI stores open in the new Times building and in SoHo, the MoMA stores are the only U.S. outlets for these minimal yet undeniably appealing and affordable Japanese products. We loved the featherweight translucent raincoats, and the tiny hammer with an entire toolkit hidden its handle. The SoHo MoMA Store has an expanded furniture selection from them as well.

Of course, it goes without saying that there is a great selection of art books and, yes, posters. In fact, if you liked an exhibition from a few years ago, chances are you can still find the poster or catalog there. Here at The Shophound, we tend to prefer the SoHo location at Prince and Crosby Streets, mainly because it isn't bisected by West 53rd Street. There's more MUJI, and there is a lower proportion of slack-jawed-tourists to get in your way, at least on the weekdays, always a plus as far as we are concerned.
MoMA Design Store 44 West 53rd Street, Midtown
also, 81 Spring Street, SoHo

Critical Shopper:

A Trip to the Gift Shop Is Like a Day at the Museum (NYTimes)

Beef and Shellfish to be Replaced by Produce: Apple Takes 14th & 9th


It's really official this time. Apple has won the prized Meatpacking District spot at 401West 14th Street, the former home of Western Beef and Belgian moules frites restaurant Markt. This means two things. First, Manhattan will have yet another glamorous flagship for the only computer company fashionable enough to open a boutique down the street from Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, which will, hopefully, further relieve crowding at the Genius bar in SoHo. Second, Barneys will not be taking the space as The Sun "confirmed" last month. We were, in fact, correct in doubting Faith Hope Consolo's delusion insistence that they were already buying goods for the branch (which anyone in the fashion industry knows is a logistic impossibility). We still think they are going to go for the Meatpacking district, but, frankly, that site was too small for a full-line Barneys New York location, unless they were able to expand by building more stories on the building. Apple, on the other hand is a welcome addition anywhere, and if we are to have megabrands on West 14th Street, at least it will be one we like.
Apple's third Manhattan flagship to open in Meatpacking district(Appleinsider)
Previously: Barneys on 14th Street Confirmed...Sort of

Alice Roi to Open in SoHo, for an Instant

RoipopupThat Alice Roi is a clever little devil.
She has managed to score a profile raising collaboration collection with UNIQLO set to arrive at retail this Friday. To make the most of this extra bit of exposure, she will be opening a pop-up store nearby at 76 Greene Street, which, if we're not mistaken, is the same space UNIQLO used as their pop-up location a year ago (the former Bagutta Life location). What a perfect way to show off her regular line to the new fans she expects to make over on Broadway.
You had better be fast, because the shop, to be sponsored by Max Factor, will only be open for four days, from May 3-6.

Alice Roi Pop-Up Store
76 Greene Street May 3-6

Alice Roi for UNIQLO
Starting April 27 546 Broadway SoHo

Alice Roi Popping Up in Soho (RACKED)

3.1 Phillip Lim Heading to Mercer Street


Here's a storefront message that should make a lot of people very happy. 3.1 Phillip Lim is fast becoming a favorite among New York's abundance of emerging designer labels if not for his smart, chic sportswear for women (and now men) then for his insistence on keeping his prices somewhere within the general realm of reality (and by that we mean no $5,000 jackets). We are predicting that his first boutique to be located at 115 Mercer Street in SoHo, will quickly become a destination. We are guesssing a fall opening will be in order, and we will be watching this one closely. If you can't wait that long, his special collection for UNIQLO should be available in about six weeks or so.

Express and Limited Stores on the Block?


WWD is reporting that Limited Brands Inc. is deep in the process of shedding its apparel chains including its namesake Limited stores and the once powerful, now faded Express. It has been a long time since The Limited was an influential store. (Remember the endless supply of shaker sweaters in the 80's? Well, maybe you weren't born yet.) Express has had more success recently, but hasn't done well against the onslaught of fast fashion chains like H&M, Zara and even Forever 21, but maybe they haven't been putting up much of a fight. Perhaps being based in Ohio has kept them too far from fashion's leading edge. Chairman, founder, CEO and all around Emperor of Limited Brands, Leslie H. Wexner has stated that his company's future is in beauty products (Bath & Body Works, C.O. Bigelow) and innerwear (Victoria's Secret), and apparently has no sentimental attachment to the chain that gave birth to his company. Schottenstein Stores and Gordon Brothers Group are reportedly the leading suitors for the chains as well as a possible management buyout led by Limited Apparel Group president, Jay Margolis. It's too early to say what anyone's plans might be for the chains, and there are 260 Limited and 658 Express locations to dispose of. Some analysts believe that it would be wiser to attempt to turn the stores fortunes around a bit before selling them. With all its locations, wouldn't Express be a perfect candidate for a Topshop-style makeover? We're just saying...
Evolving Limited Brands: Group Said Nearing Sale Of Two Apparel Chains (WWD)

Sample Sale Report: Earnest Sewn

ErnestsewnHere at The Shophound headquarters we have narrowed down our premium denim selections by a lot. You have to. There's too much, so our new rule of thumb is if it is being sold on a table on Broadway or Fifth Avenue, then it's dead to us. So, goodbye to 7 For All MankindCitizens For HumanityTrue Religion, etc. etc.... One brand that still  made the cut for us is Earnest Sewn. We still love that you can't buy them everywhere, and that they have mostly avoided silly pocket stitching,  and, not incidentally, the way they fit.  It doesn't hurt that they have an excellent sample sale twice a year. Typically it had been held in their loft showroom, and last season it was in a roomy empty store in SoHo. This time around, they have chosen a somewhat more cramped spot a few doors up Washington Street from their shop in the Meatpacking District. Unfortunately, they have reverted to their past practice of putting out merchandise in cardboard boxes, so today we found, on the men's side, a hopelessly jumbled pile of jeans, and, oddly enough, on the women's side, neat tidy stacks of denim. We don't know what that means other than that the sale will be more work for the guys than the gals. Most of the basic, current models seemed to be in evidence, so you won't have to rummage through unsightly flared styles to get to the good stuff, and jeans were priced at $75, a healthy savings off the retail prices which usually start around $195 and go up from there. There was also a healthy selection of last season's jackets for men & women from the less rugged An Earnest Cut & Sew label. The main difference between the jeans there and what you will find down the block is the somewhat more faded and whiskered looks at the sample sale. This only points out the subtleties of the current denim market. If, like us, you are now devoted to dark, unwashed denim, then you won't find much in jeans, but if you are less picky about a little bit of artfully executed distressing, than don't waste any time getting down there. There are dressing areas for men and women so while they are not particularly roomy or private, you won't have to change in the aisles, which in the world of sample sales, is practically luxury.

Earnest Sewn Sample Sale
829 Washington Street between Gansevoort & Little West 12th Streets
through Saturday 4/28