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VMan Turns Diesel Into A Big Go-See

Deisel put the stanchions outside its Union Square flagship store today to corral the crowds of aspiring models who descended upon the place to enter into the VMan and Ford Models search for the next cover boy for the now quarterly men's fashion magazine.
Patient scouts and agents sat by kindly and patiently while a parade of mostly ineligible contestants filed by and had themselves Polaroided. Sure, they were probably technically eligible, but ayone who has watched America's Next Top Model, Make Me A Supermodel, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency or even Manhunt: The Search For America's Most Gorgeous Male Model knows that modeling is a rare and precious talent, or at least can spot the fatties a mile away. Well, we learned from watching The Agency that you have to got through a lot of losers to find that proverbial needle in the haystack.
They'll be there tomorrow too for the skinny, gorgeous or just plain deluded.
VMan.com Ford Models Search (Official Site)

Jamin Puech Finds A Bigger Home In Nolita

JaminpuechexteriorParisian handbag brand Jamin Puech was an early convert to the charms of NoLita, and it's tiny shop full of handmade, highly embellished purses became a fixture on Elizabeth Street. In the late nineties as the neighborhood gained popularity and "Sex And The City" gave people the taste for eccentric accessories, Jamin Puech was perfectly positioned to benefit. Now they have finally outgrown their home and moved to a bigger, more prominent corner store on Prince Street making it much easier to examine their unique wares.
Jaminpuechinterior Granted, the elaborately designed handbags and small accessories are not for the minimalist, and can occasionally become topheavy with ornamentation, but it's hard not to be distracted by their inventiveness and meticulous workmanship. Those giant klieg lights in the corners are not just part of the décor, but are also for sale if you have a very dark corner at home that needs to be lit up.
Jamin Puech 14 Prince Street at Elizabeth Street, NoLita

Lord & Taylor Returns To Home Furnishings

LtLord & Taylor has announced a plan for the overhaul of its historic Fifth Avenue flagship. Chairman of  L&T and now Fortunoff parent NRDC Equity Partners, Richard Baker announced plans to convert two floors into  a home department. Most had speculated that the flagship would be downsized with the vacated floors being turned to office space, however, the recent acquisition of Fortunoff now gives the chain easy entrée into a business it abandoned decades ago, and allows it to compete on a more even field with Bloomingdale's and Macy's.
In addition, Fortunoff will also take over Lord & Taylor's leased jewelry departments this February when their current operator's contract expires. We're not sure if any of these new departments will be co-branded with Fortunoff. While NRDC would probably love to have that kind of exposure for their new but troubled acquisition, we tend to think that L&T would be far better off as brand if the lease arrangements remained invisible to customers.
It's really all up to Baker and Jane Elfers, the chain's president and CEO. Fortunoff's home furnishings departments are to be tested in suburban Lord & Taylor branches before they are implemented in Manhattan, but we are really looking forward to see how the main store finally gets re-configured. There's no store in the city that needs it more.
L&T Considers International Growth, Fifth Ave. Flagship Renovation (WWD)

The West Side Gets A West Elm

While Pottery Barn winds down its business on Broadway in SoHo, its younger, hipper sibling chain, West Elm appears to be getting ready to open a major store near Columbus Circle.
The big, glamorous new Robert A.M. Stern designed complex at 1880 Broadway is still mostly empty of retail tenants except for the giant, new Best Buy which is primarily underground, leaving thousands of prime square footage still available. What's curious is that the West Elm sign that appeared last week is on the upper level over the 62nd street corner rather than on one of the many available street level entrances. So what's wrong with the ground floor? How many arms and legs are they charging for that place?
Frankly, we really have no idea exactly where the store is going in the building, but we do wonder why copious amounts of retail space in an opulent new building remain empty. In the meantime, we will be looking forward to Manhattan's second West Elm (the other two are in Chelsea and Dumbo). This location should be a much higher profile unit than the others, and the popular and quickly growing chain is more than ready for the attention.
West Elm (Official Site)

From The Inbox: UNIQLO To Have A "Golden Week" Starting Friday

Uniqlogoldenweek1_2 The Shophound has been informed that in Japan, the first week in May constitutes "Golden Week", a cluster of National Holidays during which school is out, offices are closed and there is much revelry and, of course shopping.
To introduce us Westerners to the concept, UNIQLO, SoHo's retail ambassador from the Land of the Rising Sun, will be having a great, big "Golden Week" sale.
Well, any excuse for a sale is fine with us, especially if it starts on Friday.

More details and prices after the jump...

Continue reading "From The Inbox: UNIQLO To Have A "Golden Week" Starting Friday" »

The Drizzly Monday Spree

• Has the Gap finally turned a fashion corner and started making appealing clothes again? (RACKED)
Teri Agins reports that a host of conditions, including the overexposure and soaring prices of European megabrands, has created a favorable environment for America's young designers. (Wall Street Journal)
• Clever Martin Margiela has designed wallets disguised as money. There's some sort of pop-art detatchment in there somewhere. (Cool Hunting)
• Mark your calendars. Next week A.P.C. introduces a new jeans model. (Kempt)
• Handbag designer Joy Gryson gets interrogated. (The Fashion Informer)
Thom Browne's latest Black Fleece collection is on line now. (Brooks Brothers)

Bloomingdale's To Remain Open During Possible Strike?

Bloomingdales1 As strike buzz for Bloomingdale's gets louder, spokespeople for the retailer tell WWD that while talks with its union are progressing, the store will remain open in the event of a strike and will be staffed by a combination of buyers, executives, merchandisers and mysterious "others".
If you had your doubts about Bloomingdale's service before, wait until the buyers start manning the floors.
The fact is that most retail buyers and executives these days have little or no actual sales floor experience, so they know product, but generally haven't the slightest clue how to sell it to or even deal with customers, particularly irate ones who will be annoyed by the inevitable lack of service - that is if they have even decided to cross what is bound to be a lively picket line.
On the upside, the potential disaster is likely to encourage Bloomingdale's HR execs to avoid a strike at all costs.
The Economic Squeeze: Bloomingdale’s, Union In Talks Over Contract (WWD)

Big Changes In Store For The Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market has had a pretty stable set of retailers since it opened, but recent changes and more to come could spark something of a makeover for the popular collection food stores.
Looking for flowers? Keep walking. The prominent Chelsea Wholesale Flower Market, once the first store you would see at the Ninth Avenue entrance, is gone, and there is talk about breaking up the 8,500 square foot space and opening it's windows to the street to attract a higher profile tenant. Frank's Butcher Shop and Steakhouse is also gone, its 5,300 square feet also currently vacant, and the Manhattan Fruit Exchange is in a legal dispute with its landlord. Even the newsstand has been shuttered as rents throughout the market have reportedly tripled.
One suspects that the rise of the Meatpacking District social scene has encouraged landlords to go for more glamorous nightlife-oriented tenants, but doesn't that defeat the complex's original purpose as an eclectic collection of food retailers and restaurants?
Chelsea Market's growth spurs closings (The Real Deal)

Just Birdie Says "Au Revoir" To Broadway

You would think that an exclusive little boutique selling well-priced Italian-made cashmere would have an easy time of it on the Upper West Side.
Apparently not, as the Saint Tropez based Just Birdie has closed its doors after barely a year.
Perhaps the location, nestled among Starbucks, McDonalds and Liberty Travel was not the very best, or perhaps the quaint little shop with its plaid papered walls wasn't sufficiently modern looking enough but for New Yorkers to appreciate. For whatever reason, Just Birdie's first U.S. store for its golf-inspired sweaters has fizzled.

Bloomingdale's In Danger Of Strike Shutdown?

Bloomingdales59thLook, we have just recovered from having our regular TV viewing unceremoniously interrupted by the Writer's Guild of America strike.
Now comes word from WWD that the deadline for Bloomingdale's current negotiations with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Local 3 is this Wednesday, April 30. So far, an agreement has not yet been reached, and if  one isn't, apparently there is a distinct possibility that about 2,000 workers could strike, effectively shutting down the 59th Street flagship store.
Workers have been rallying in front of the store with demands for higher pay and health care protection, but given current economic uncertainty, this seems like a particularly bad time to make demands.
It is only the flagship store that will be affected, should a strike be called, however, it is that very store that makes the largest contribution to the company's bottom line, making this potentially a highly damaging situation.
We will be keeping our eye on this story
Bloomingdale's Flagship Threatened by Strike (WWD)