• Later this month Tiffany will host an exhibition of rare watches from legendary Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe. (Chic Report)
• Beloved East Village vintage magazine dealer Gallagher's is shutting down for good. The reason? Rent hike, of course. (WWD)
• A visit inside the soon to be finished Ikea in Red Hook. In the works: a regular free ferry from Pier 11. (RACKED here and here)
• Almost as good as being there - Here's the soundtrack to Anna Sui's Fall runway show. (The Moment)
• In the "Tell Us Something We Don't Know" department: Miuccia Prada is a control freak, and working for her company is hellish. (NYPost)
• Can the fashion and retail industries really function in an environmentally responsible "green" manner, or is it all just a marketing ploy? (DNR)
We can give our usual cynicism a rest today and give some credit to Barneys for continuing with the environmentally conscious promotions it started during the last Holiday season. The store is teaming with organic denim resource Loomstate for a t-shirt recycling program running from April 13th to the 27th. Customers are invited to participate in Tune In. Turn On. Drop Off, an initiative to include donating old t-shirts at all Barneys stores (including, presumably, Co-op locations) which will be restyled, redyed, printed and sold as limited edition items during the next Holiday season. In return they will be awarded a 20% discount on Loomstate merchandise. Only suitable t-shirts will be included, and others that can't be resold will be diverted to other recycling purposes.
Julie Gilhart, Barneys fashion director announces,
"There is a fast growing environmentally based fashion movement that we feel is the New Cool. It is redefining what luxury is all about. We must work together, educate ourselves and inform people of how to participate. Everything we do now must have a conscious thought to it. Thinking, walking and talking and with the flag of intention to create beauty through fashion in a more organic, sustainable way is the future."
Sundance Channel will film the entire project for a documentary to be included on The Green, the cable network's upcoming, weekly block of programming devoted to the environment. Barneys plans to bookend the event with VIP music performances, featuring Actress Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward and their band She & Him in Los Angeles on April 15th and British singer Kate Nash in New York on the 22nd, Earth Day.
While we found last year's holiday promotion a littl on the didactic and schoolmarmish side, we could appredciate their intention, and it's actually comforting to see that Barneys' dedication to environmental issues has so far extended beyond an advertising concept.
News in SoHo: Hello To Marciano. Goodby Active Wearhouse and Custo Barcelona Jumps Up To Spring Street
Could Broadway become any more mall-like? Well, yes.
The constant flux of openings and closings in SoHo continues as signage appears in the former Active Wearhouse location on Broadway between Spring and Broome Streets indicating that it will soon become a Marciano shop, also known as the richer, contemporary sister of Guess Jeans. Still a smaller brand than the jeans giant from which it sprung, Marciano is still an upscale shopping center mainstay. Don't cry for Active Wearhouse, which closed after an extended clearance sale featuring stock that appeared to be dredged from the lowest depths of their back-stock. It is owned by the same concern that operates Michael K. right next door as well as Transit a few blocks north in NoHo. Its departure was really more of a correction of the longtime glut of sneaker stores duplicating themselves and each other every few blocks up and down the Broadway shopping corridor.
Further West, Portuguese jeweler Margarida Pimentel has left her shop on Spring Street between West Broadway and Wooster Streets after only a couple of years. Perhaps SoHo is not the best place for a high end jewlery store, and it will be replaced by Spanish designer Custo Barcelona which is moving its store from Broome Street to the much higher profile location.
• It's been a slow week in fashionland, which explains why everyone seems to be obsessed with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy's new wardrobe of the dowdiest clothes Dior has made in decades. Only a former supermodel could carry them off - and she does - in flats no less. (And those are some big feet on her. Come on, you've seen the pictures.) Here's a quick survey (The Cut)
• Theory's Meatpacking district store to become a temporary art studio. (Material Interest)
• Ashlee Simpson is making t-shirts for Wet Seal. Will someone please make those Simpson sisters go away. (Nitro:licious)
• Jason Preston will not go quietly. (The Cut)
• Richard Chai is introducing a men's collection. The line starts behind us. (Material Interest)
• Teri Agins offers advice for the chic but big footed woman (and, by unspoken extension, drag queen or simple cross-dresser). Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, are you paying attention? (Wall Street Journal)
• FIT's next show will pay tribute to women at the forefront of fashion. (Fashion Week Daily)
• The fine folks at Cool Hunting are keeping us up to date on magnificent watches to covet. (Cool Hunting)
• For all you nostalgists out there, we present: Taters of the Lost Ark. It's been a long week folks. (Uncrate)
Well, that didn't take long. We reported earlier this month that Smith & Hawken will close this coming Tuesday. and WWD tells us today that the garden store, as we predicted, will be converted into a clothing unit. Fast growing premium denim brand Seven For All Mankind will open its first New York store in the space this Fall, adding yet another jeans store to SoHo's increasingly denim-ized mix. The store will be only a few doors away from competitor Miss Sixty. It's about four years too late for The Shophound to get excited about Seven, as wide yet "exclusive" distribution has diluted the brand's appeal for us. The label is still a huge draw, however, and expanding into a full "lifestyle" brand has kept it growing. Corporate behemoth owner VF Corp. plans around 100 stores in the next few years, so get ready for a coming Seven glut.
Seven For All Mankind Coming to Manhattan (WWD)
The fairly modest line that formed outside the store just before 10AM told us that the launch of the latest edition of UNIQLO's latest Designers Invitation collections was not going to be the kind of grab -what -you -can madness that greeted Phillip Lim's capsule collection last year. This was something of a relief, and when the doors promptly opened, the waiting customers - mostly men - swarmed the Tim Hamilton section, some loading their arms with one of each item and heading for the dressing rooms. Brazilian designer Juliana Jabour's smaller group of jersey dresses remained basically untouched. Clearly, it was Hamilton's day.
And how were the clothes? Hamilton's turned out well, with UNIQLO's factories doing a very good job of approximating the designer's signature weathered sportswear. We picked up the soft blue-gray jeans ($49.50) which fit better than last year's Cloak efforts. The khakis looked good, but in the end, they are your basic khakis. We really wanted the oxford shirt ($39.50) with the little white collar and cuffs that got such a rave earlier this week, but we had to accept that even at our skinniest, our shoulders would never make peace with the narrow cut and high armholes. The same went for all the tops, so we reluctantly put back the smart twill jacket with zip pockets ($59.50). While it's the cut that separates Hamilton from, say, J.Crew, it's also one of the things keeps us out of his clothes, and customers should be aware that the sizes again run only up to a smaller, Japanese scaled Large, good news for guys who fit the current, scrawny ideal, but not so much for the athletically built.
Many customers simply bought out the entire line, and with nothing over $60, they probably spent less than the price of a single item in Hamilton's main collection. After about 30 minutes, the corner quieted down, and workers quickly filled in the the merchandise, though the gray oxford shirt was already almost gone.
We took our jeans to check out, and were informed that the waiting time for the free hem shortening was a whopping three ...weeks?...days? ...no, hours.
Wow, three hours. We can probably handle that wait.
As for Jabour's line? It continued to hang quietly, waiting for attention. It's worth noting that this collaboration probably won't do that much for either designer's business here in the U.S. where UNIQLO has only the one store at the moment. Outside of New York, most Americans are still pretty oblivious to the Japanese retailer. However, the exposure they will get in the hundreds of Asian branches can be a huge boon, especially to a self-financed, independent designer like Hamilton. One change that should please the participating designers is putting their names on the labels this time, keeping them in customers' minds, and offering the little bit of designer gratification that was missing from the previously label-free collections.
If this launch was quiet, brace yourselves for the next round coming in May which features cult fave Alexander Wang and the up and coming Loden Dager, who may attract more Lim-like crowds.
UNIQLO Designers Invitation Project (Japanese website)
Certain neighborhoods have particular types of stores that serve as a kind of signature. Christopher Street has little porn shops. Chelsea has galleries. Lower Broadway has flagship sized chain stores, and Upper Broadway has a series of famous gourmet emporiums. Madison Avenue is, obviously, the home of the international designer boutique, but it has a secondary signature found on its upper reaches: the teeny, tiny extravagance store. The latest of these is Arthur, an American outpost for a French chain specializing in expensive pajamas.
The Shophound heard about it, and decided to check it out for ourselves, mainly because we couldn't think of another pajama specialist in the city to compare it with. At 300 square feet, it would be tough to sell more than one product category anyway, and Madison id really the only location for such a tightly focused store.
They have PJs for men, women and kids, and if you are picturing the kind of refined, elegant sleepwear one would find at, say, Paul Stuart, then think again. Arthur is all about the bright color and the cute pattern. Of course, they sell robes and swimwear as well, but the emphasis is on the jammies in a space barely big enough for even one pleasantly cordial salesperson. It is the kind of singular novelty that might send eyeballs rolling elsewhere, but here, it fits in nicely among the luxury hair ornament specialist, and the luxury bra specialist.
Arthur 922 Madison Avenue between 73rd and 74th Streets, Upper East Side
In today's Thursday Styles, Critical shopper Mike Albo covers a store we have been intrigued with lately: the plainly named Jean Shop. As the first wave of premium denim brands have either vanished (remember Earl Jeans?), gone downmarket (Paper Denim and Cloth, now at Macy's and therefore radioactive) or simply been acquired by corporate parents and overdistributed (Seven for All Humanity or Citizens of Mankind or whatever), The Shophound has become fascinated with the more exclusive niche brands like Jean Shop's simplified, back to basics styles.
Mike's visit is pretty straightforward this week, and he is under no illusion that Jean Shop's pared down styles should come with equally reductive prices, and they don't. even the children's sizes start at a whopping $200. For kids. Mike learns, as we have, that if you're really serious about jeans, you buy them raw and break them in yourself, the old fashioned way.
Eric Goldstein, an owner, does almost all of the washing, dyeing and finishing himself in the back of the store. He explained that the highest-priced customized jean, at $600, would have the customer’s name on the waistband and be worn-in to look 10 years older, with patched-over holes on the knees and hand-sewn back pockets. In other words, a pair of jeans that look as if they’ve been worn by Pete Doherty through his last 17 court dates.
...Despite his vast knowledge of fabrics and finishes, Mr. Goldstein says that raw, untreated denim is the way to go these days. He encourages customers stuck in the Age of Excess to simply wear their jeans, let things happen naturally and stop trying to faux-paint their wardrobe.
We started doing this when we realized that the carefully placed distressing on our expensive jeans never really matched the corresponding parts of our body as well as they should have. The knee marks, for example generally fell somewhere halfway down our shins.
Of course, Mike reveals the other appeal of Jean Shop,
The salesclerks listened to my concerns with full attention. They both assured me that after a week, the fabric would give. Then they gave me a shot of Herradura tequila. Their names are Peter Brandewein and Sierra Hines-Owens, and they are my new favorite people.
This is the secret of salesmanship: When in doubt, ply with booze.
Critical Shopper: Jean Shop - Jeans for the Lean Years By Mike Albo (NYTimes)
Jean Shop 435 West 14th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, Meatpacking District
• Tim Hamilton for UNIQLO gets a thumbs-up. (The Moment)
• A British writer rightly takes umbrage at fashion's current fixation on flatchested silhouettes. (Telegraph)
• Today's black humor report: Bear Stearns branded knicknacks and mugs are htting eBay. (Material Interest)
• The Princeton Ski Shop is kaput. (RACKED)
• Former Model/New French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is naturally under scrutiny for her wardrobe, but the real problem is she has to wear flats not to tower over the President. (Chic Report)
• 99¢ stores are the new supermarkets. (NYTimes)
• Alice Temperley gets the third degree (The Fashion Informer)
• Lynn Yaeger muses on Donna Karan's recent garage sale, but can find nobody who will share her cynicism. (Village Voice)
It's not necessarily the kind of mob scene we are used to encountering at sample sales, but the DDC Lab sale running through the weekend is definitely worth a visit. Conveniently located in the Chelsea Market, this sale offers an abundance of sportswear basics at the kind of low, low prices that we used to be able to count on at sample sales. Most things are well under $50 except for outerwear and leather items. The main attraction here is a giant pile of jeans which, if you patience to look, boasts a variety of styles including more than a few coveted selvage denim models. We warn that the open changing area where the brave try things on is right in front of huge windows facing the sidewalk on 15th Street, so don't go commando - or do if that's your kind of thing.
DDC Lab Sample Sale at Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue, between 15th and 16th Streets through Sunday March 30th.