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Test Run Deptartment:
Brooks Brothers Black Fleece
Tries Out Bleecker Street


Just how long did you think that Afghan store would last on Bleecker Street?
Today, WWD confirmed rumors that Brooks Brothers Black Fleece collection designed by Thom Browne will open an exclusive shop at the corner of Bleecker and West 10th Streets this November, displacing Nusraty Afghan Imports, Inc., the corner's tenant for nearly 30 years.
Easy come, easy go.
Futureblackfleece The deal has been rumored for several weeks, after Brooks Brothers indicated that they were considering opening stand alone shops for Black Fleece, their most expensive label, and an unusual venture into high style for what has always been considered the paragon of classic American clothing.
Brooks Brothers Chairman and CEO Claudio Del Vecchio also announced in WWD that Browne would continue as "guest designer" for the label through 2011 despite reports that sales, particularly in the women's collection were unspectacular. He acknowledged some bumps in the road, particularly in the women's products, Browne's first efforts outside menswear, where his penchant for heavy, stiff fabrics and construction got the better of him.
The Bleecker Street shop will be 1,700 square feet, and if the rendering above is accurate, will include some restoration of the building's storefront, always a welcome development.

Today In Relocation:
Chocolate Bar Heads East

Image_2 After losing its original West Village space to the usual rent-related drama, Chocolate Bar has migrated East, and today marks its Grand Opening on East 7th Street.
Along with its usual arrays of sweets and drinks, artisanal egg creams have been added to the options offered at the new location.
If chocolate alone isn't enough to lure you in, the fine folks at Chocolate Bar are offering a Meet the Neighbors Special to celebrate the opening of its new home, which includes 1/2 price drip coffee and espresso for the first month and a complimentary stencil bar with every iced or hot liquid chocolate purchase (while supplies last).
Chocolate Bar 127 East 7th Street between 1st Avenue & Avenue A

New Additions:
Tretorn's Bid For The Big Time

Tretorn kind of snuck up on us (no pun intended...well, maybe a little).
One day we walked down spring Street and there was a brand new store that seemed to materialize out of nowhere.
Nylite1 You're not a brand in the 21st century unless you have a boutique somewhere in Manhattan, preferably in SoHo which is where Tretorn appeared on Spring Street. We were told that it was the Swedish sneaker brand's first boutique anywhere in the world, which would have been very exciting to know if the first one hadn't actually opened last November in Washington DC, but why quibble about such details?
Tretorn is taking advantage of the current boomlet in Swedish sportswear, relaunching itself on the heels of Cheap Monday, Nudie and Acne Jeans, and other brands like WeSC and Filipa K. Stockholm is, apparently the new Paris, or maybe the new Antwerp, but it makes its case as a fashion capital not with couture, but everyday clothes for skinny people with youthful appeal. Tretorn, for its part, is relying partly on your presumed nostalgia for its classic canvas Nylite tennis shoe. You still can't go wrong with a classic sneaker, and the 41 year old design is now joined by newer variations on its clean, functional look, as well as rubber boots and the inevitable flip-flops. In addition, There is a new collection of sports inspired clothing, because, of course, it's no longer possible to manufacture sneakers unless you can also call yourself a "lifestyle" brand. It's a small, sleek, functional collection, but a good jumping off point for future development.
Inside the store, blond wood and functional details give off that Scandinavian, utilitarian vibe with one wall decorated with bicycles, and the opposite bedecked with a pair of canoes.
It all makes for a new look at an old favorite, and now that Adidas and Puma have recast themselves as fashion brands, Tretorn is now ready to vie for customers' attention, just in time for the current preppy revival.
Tretorn 150 Spring Street between Wooster Street & West Broadway, SoHo

Pop-Up Du Jour:
Ananas On The Lower East Side

The pop-up shop is no longer the province of the corporate giant looking to launch a new product or grab some publicity before they enter a retail market.  On a smaller scale, independent accessory brand Ananas (which actually means pineapple, not banana, as we always seem to think) has taken over a spot at 52 Canal Street through July 15th. It's a charming but humble shop on an even humbler corner where the Lower East Side starts to morph into Chinatown.
While mostly showcasing the New York - made handbags and accessories, many created from natural materials sourced from the Philippines, the temporary boutique also includes dresses and jewelry from other designers, making it look like more of a long-term proposition than a mid-summer fling.
We're pretty sure that the bicycle sitting in the middle of the store wasn't part of the décor, but it is emblematic of the laid-back atmosphere one will find on a steamy summer sfternoon.
Wile it's a little bit removed from the Orchard Street boutique crawl, given how fast things are evolving down there, by mid-July, it could be right in the thick of things. It's also but a few blocks from Doughnut Plant (key lime donuts, newest flavor) so venture down there at your own risk.
Anana @ 52 52 Canal Street between Orchard & Ludlow Streets, Lower East Side/Chinatown

Business Update:
Steve & Barry's On The Ropes

It's the same old story: Too much too soon.
Newly high profile retailer Steve & Barry's may be vanishing as quickly as it came to our attention.
Wasn't it only weeks ago that they announced the seemingly unstoppable chain would take over the former location of Tower Records at Broadway and West 4th Street? Now it seems unlikely that a store will appear there anytime soon, as Steve & Barrys has retained the services of Conway, Del Genio, Gries & Co., a restructuring firm specializing in turnarounds while Goldman Sachs Group scrambles to scrape together $30 million in emergency financing to cover a string of unpaid bills that are just coming to light.
Things are looking dire for the company that gained notice when Stephon Marbury chose them to launch a line of affordable branded clothing, and later went mega-huge nearly overnight with the publicity from Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten line. A string of other celebrity endorsed and designed collections followed including efforts from Venus Williams, Amanda Bynes, surfer Laird Hamilton and golfer Bubba Watson.
Steveandbarryswest4th The problem? Those low, low prices everyone loves so.
Despite growing their volume to nearly $1 billion, their profit margins are still so narrow that the chain was unable to properly finance its rapid expansion plans leaving local contractors, advertising bills and even some longtime vendors unpaid. There are rumors that the retailer may have to file bankruptcy as early as next week.
Will Steve & Barry's vanish from the public's consciousness as quickly as it appeared, leaving its stable of celebrities with egg on their collective face?
Stay tuned. this story is developing.
Steve & Barry's Hits Trouble: Hyped Clothing Retailer Hires Turnaround Help (Wall Street Journal)
Steve & Barry's (Official Site)

Today In Unexpected Developments:
Florent To Reopen On Tuesday...
Without Florent

21florent_newspan600 We're not sure if this is a welcome relief or a cruel joke, but The much loved and even more talked about Gansevoort Street restaurant Florent, which is closing this Sunday amidst much fanfare and hoopla, will be reopened on Tuesday under the original name above the door, R&L Restaurant, and will be operated by the space's landlord while Florent Morellet will no longer be involved, taking his name and neon sign with him. According to our friends at Eater, the menu, décor and staff will largely remain the same.
This would strongly suggest that landlord Joanne Lucas couldn't find any tenants at the exorbitant rent she was asking, although, given the timing and the fact that Lucas and Morellet were in a bitter, protracted dispute over tax issues long before the lease expired, it all looks strangely fishy.
We can't tell if this was a last minute save, or a vindictive scheme.
BLOCKBUSTER Exclusive: Florent to Re-Open as R & L Restaurant on Tuesday!! (EATER)

New Additons:
Mastihashop Brings The Greek Isles
To The Lower East Side

MastihashopWe were almost going to scold the newly opened Mastihashop on Orchard Street for propping their door open on a supremely muggy day, wasting precious air conditioning, until we walked in and discovered that they had no air conditioning at all, creating a different sort of problem.
Yes, it was a humid, but illuminating few moments we spent inside the tidy new shop as the benefits of mastiha (pronounced mahs-TEEKH-hah) were explained to us. The resin from trees found on the Greek island of Chios was, among other things, the first chewing gum. It can be purchased in its original form at the shop, though it is mostly used as an ingredient in an intriguing variety of items sold there ranging from pasta sauces to toothpaste and beauty and home products.
Mastiha, we are told, is a natural antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial substance with a pungent aroma that can translate into a bracing, ginger-ish flavor in foods, or it did in the cookie we tasted. Unfortunately, in chewing gum, the flavor lasted only the duration of couple of block's walk, but it was delightful while it lasted,and we are sure that we are still feeling its therapeutic effects as we type this.
Though small, Mastihashop carries a broad range of products, many under its own label, and almost all including the precious ingredient. Given the current fascination with natural and homeopathic remedies, we expect it to catch on, assuming the humidity breaks.
Part of a chain of ten stores, this is the first location outside of Greece. We would imagine that on Mykonos, or Chios, the Aegean breezes keep everyone comfortable, but unfortunately, those breezes do not quite reach to Orchard Street.
Mastihashop 145 Orchard Street between Stanton & Rivington Streets, Lower East Side

Cintra Wilson Goes Gun Shopping:
Haute Firearm Edition

Critical1901It's about time that someone pointed out that there's a gun store on Madison Avenue.
It's easy to walk by Beretta and mistake it for just another European luxury boutique, but this week's Thursday Styles has Critical Shopper, Cintra Wilson paying them a visit to remind us that (with the proper licenses and permits) one can walk down Madison Avenue with a brand new rifle - at a Madison Avenue price. Of course, La Cintra's primary weapon is her pen, so it's disturbing to imagine what sort of damage she could do when provided with actual hard weaponry.
Here's what else we learned:
Beretta is for hunters, but clearly not the L.L.Bean set.
La Cintra's signature brand of snark is lost on the staff there. They don't have time for that sort of thing. They are selling guns. Do not mock them.
Nello is not the first place to step into when you are feeling thirsty on Madison Avenue.

The thick cylinder of glass gave me an inkling I was about to get soaked, but even preclenched, I was unprepared for the bill to be $18.

Really? Unprepared? We would think it pretty obvious that a bottle of water at Nello wouldn't be much of a bargain. Next time, hit the nearby pretzel cart. It will still cost too much, in the way that pretzels vary in price depending on where the cart is, but not that much. it does remind us that, believe it or not, there was once an regular old deli right on Madison Avenue not so very long ago. It might have been replaced by Beretta.
Actually, her best moment comes towards the end,

It is a strange romance of conspicuous consumption that Beretta indulges, but rich guys apparently love dressing up like Ernest Hemingway and shooting things just as much as little girls love to wear tutus and dance around like prima ballerinas.

When you can take down a bunch of wealthy hunters like that, who really needs a rifle?
Critical Shopper - Beretta: I’ll Take the Shiny One With Bang! By Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Beretta 718 Madison Avenue, Upper East Side

Endangered Sites:

Kate Spade Horning In
On Bleecker Street

Yeah, what a surprise...
It's no secret that hardly anyone can afford to renew a lease on Bleecker Street these days. The expulsion of its classic tenants continues like some sort of ruthless ethnic cleansing intent on bringing national brands to cluster on what is essentially a small, West Village neighborhood street.
The latest corporate interloper is the Liz Claiborne Inc. owned Kate Spade, a brand that not only has two other stores in Manhattan already, but like so many of the street's latest additions, is long past the moment when it had any semblance of hip newness or fashion clout. According to our friends at RACKED, the store's address will be at 400 Bleecker, which is currently shared by both the Eve Salon and the Biography Bookshop, but we don't yet know which store is getting the boot. Sadly, our guess goes with the bookshop, since, as a longtime Bleecker fixture, it would follow current form for them to be unceremoniously expelled, and, frankly, having been there for a long time, they would be most likely to face a drastic rent hike. It's also in the kind of corner shop space at West 11th Street that other retailers covet shamelessly. It would be doubly sad to lose yet another independent bookstore, an endangered species, but if forced to move, perhaps they will be able to take some of the newly emptied space on nearby Hudson Street.
We will have more news when we know exactly where Kate Spade will be setting up shop.
Storecasting First Word: Kate Spade Bags Bleecker St Space (RACKED)

Colette Is Coming...
But Just For A Minute

New Yorkers will finally get a glimpse of legendary Parisian store Colette this Fall when, after a renovation of their Rue Saint-Honoré home, the store will open a temporary Pop-up location near Fifth Avenue in midtown, and we are told to expect special items made just for New York.
Colette is one of those shops that fashion people speak of with reverence and whose discoveries are slavishly copied by other retailers around the world.
The store will only be open from September 6th to October 5th on 54th street just past the Gap flagship store, so don't dawdle or you'll miss it altogether.
Could this be a test run for a possible permanent NYC location?
Colette to New York! (Fashionista)


According to WWD, The Colette pop-up will be in collaboration with the Gap. It will be housed in the little side store on Fifth Avenue that is currently showcasing the Junk Food Loves Gap Kids line with Batgirl on a motorcycle plastered over the front windows. The shop will be called Colette X Gap and feature exclusive collaboration goods as well as special items from Colette in Paris.
Colette Popping Up at Gap in Manhattan (WWD)