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Jil Sander Downtown:
The Latest Must-See Store

We're sorry for such late posting, but, let's face it, this time of year, Friday is practically part of the weekend, right?
We did however want to make sure that our faithful Shophounders knew that Jil Sander's new downtown boutique had opened its doors today, and while there is nothing in it but toasty pre-fall collecrtions, it is still worth going out of your way to see. Located just a stone's throw from Opening Ceremony, it's really not that far out of anyone's way, now is it? It is one of the most striking new stores opened in the city in recent memory, and that puts it in impressive company. The two-level store is made all the more interesting with it's unlikely location on a block that is less gritty than it once was, but hardly sanitized to Bleecker Street standards... yet. Will Jil change the character of Howard Street à la Marc Jacobs on Bleecker? It's too early to tell, but while the temporary Madison Avenue store will remain open until a permanent uptown address is chosen, this dazzling new location should easily become the prime destination for fans of the label's rigorous but luxe style, and probably attract a few more who don't like to venture North of 14th Street.
"It's the first of our stores that Raf designed" we were told by our loquacious sales associate, a transplant from the Chicago store who naturally assumed we knew that Raf is Raf Simons, the prodigious Belgian designer who has taken over the creative reins at the once troubled house and made it matter again.
Well, of course we knew that, but that's the kind of cultlike following Simons and Sander have developed. Who would even walk into a Jil Sander store without knowing that?
Jilsander Simons has filled the store with surprises that defy conventional retail wisdom, not the least of which is using the spacious street level as a dramatic display-only area. He tells WWD:

"Everything for me is about light and movement, bringing a certain energy without being wild. Everything has to be harmonious sliding into each other. This is not the typical way of showing product in a store. The challenge was to see how we could deal with that in a different way."

Visitors are greeted by a doorman and (at least for now) a friendly staff member and are then led past rows of elevated mannequins in the latest collection, much like one would find in a showroom, all in front of a backdrop of rotating, vertical mirrored panels created by artist Germaine Kruip. While the space could easily (and at times probably will) be converted to selling areas, reserving it for such a statement is a daring move to say the least, especially when the store is already tucked away on a quiet corner.
Up a sleek, white marble staircase we find the selling area which demonstrates that minimal need not be boring. It's quite the opposite, in fact, with a pristine marble floor and spaces separated by more shifting reflections. Simons has designed movable dressing rooms with large angled mirrors to make the most of the natural light coming from the store's numerous second floor windows. There will be no overeager salespeople barging into your dressing room as the try-on capsules are cunningly devised so that once closed, they can only be opened from the inside.
As for the staff, they seem determined to dispel the long-held chilly-salesperson stereotype and are as engaging as the merchandise is austere, and while Jil Sander is prohibitively expensive for, oh, let's say 99% of the population, they won't make you fell unwelcome just for coming in to see a stunning new store.
And you should.
We were expecting the plain white box with a single brushed steel rod running along the wall that you find in most Sander selling areas, but Raf has proved that he can design interiors with as much aplomb as he can clothes.
Jil Sander 30 Howard Street at Crosby Street, SoHo
Simons Reflects on Latest Sander Shop


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