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Mike Albo Goes Shopping: '90s Nostalgia Editon

In Today's Thursday Styles, this week's Critical Shopper, Mike Albo visits Den, currently featuring Tim Hamilton's collection, and offers an opportunity to reflect on just how much the East Village has changed.

SOMETIMES when I walk through the East Village, I feel a gust of nostalgia for 1993, when I first moved to New York and lived with my artsy friend Jill in a two-bedroom on 12th Street. It was a carefree, de-gorgeous era, when I often wore girl’s-size thermals printed with snowflakes or flowers and $3 thrift store bell-bottoms. I even knotted my hair in Björk buns.

This brings to mind an alarming image, unless, of course, you lived in New York in the early 1990s. Back then, the East Village was cheap, charming and a reliable freak show every day. The neighborhood's fashion icons were Deee-lite's Lady Miss Kier and RuPaul who were both just becoming stars. Patricia Field was a local cult retailer and Avenue B was more known for junkies than chi-chi restaurants. People wore wild costumes to nightclubs and to the supermarket. Mike's outfit wouldn't have gotten a second glance from your typical New Yorker. It was a far cry from the gentrified neighborhood it has become today. Opening a designer store like Den or its parent next door, Odin in the East Village would have been a laughable concept. How things have changed. Albo is alarmed by Hamilton's prices (not entirely without good reason) but he does neglect to mention that the label Den debuted with, Cheap Monday is, in fact, much more affordable, so Den is not necessarily tied to expensive luxury vendors.
Shopclerk071119_198 As for the rest of the article, we felt we had been there, and we had, a couple of weeks ago.
Since we're on the topic of our regular media items, we might as well mention that New York Magazine found another Shop Clerk this week, though they have become so few and far between that they are easy to miss. Brandy Cusamano labors at Space NK in SoHo, and if you were expecting to find some insight into what it's like to tend to customers' faces on a daily basis, you will, as we were, be disappointed to find a list of products instead. Brandy's opinions and personality remain frustratingly hidden, and we hope that one of our favorite "Strategist" features escapes from the product placement trap in which it appears to have been caught.
Critical Shopper: Come Out of Your Cave and Get Used to the Price by Mike Albo (NYTimes)
Ask A Shop Clerk: Brandy Cusamano of Space NK (New York)


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