If there's some unofficial competition for the fastest new store construction the prize may go to Rag & Bone, who managed to get their first boutique open just over a month after it was announced.
Surely there are a lot of retailers who would like to get ahold of the band of elves that made this possible. Extra points will certainly be awarded for getting open before Fashion Week starts this Friday.
It helps that the sportswear label's rustic aesthetic fits perfectly into a space that has been stripped to the bare brick walls, which is what happened at 104 Christopher Street in the West Village, next door to custom haberdasher Lord Willy's. The new shop has a full selection of the label's ever more luxurious men's and newer women's collections for Fall displayed among rugged antique furnishings including what looks like a small, vintage picnic table. The inevitable wall of jeans is still present, but even though the label caught the public's eye with denim, the focus here is on dressier sportswear, particularly the vintage-inspired shirtings and luxe workwear inspired separates. Rag & Bone's nascent accessory collections are also represented including hats, bags and the perfect men's ankle boot, made in England for the label by Grenson.
It's a well executed showcase for designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville that will quickly become a destination for the label's growing legion of fans.
It's a destination because they probably won't find it in passing. The shop is just enough off the well-worn Bleecker Street shopping path to possibly missed, but close enough to be convenient for those in the know.
Will the shop be a game-changer on Christopher like Marc Jacobs was around the corner on Bleecker?
It's too early to call it a trend, but at least one adult oriented shop a couple of doors down which catered to the street's more typical gay customers has been recently shuttered. There's still quite a few more left, and Rag & Bone even has a rainbow flag left flying over its windows which may or may not have been left on purpose. Neville & Wainwright seem to like the neighborhood the way it is, telling WWD,
“We liked the idea of being in a residential neighborhood,” explains Wainwright. “This is a famously gay street,” adds Neville, “with a lot of overtly aggressive shops. There’s no retail here, and, given the proximity to Bleecker, which does [have a lot of stores], we thought it’d be fun.”
How much they influence changes on Christopher Street may be out of their hands, but as much as West Villagers may protest (and they unquestionably will if the street undergoes a dramatic shift), perhaps Christopher Street's unique character has seen its day. Take some pictures. It may not be the same for long.
Rag & Bone 104 Christopher Street between Bleecker & Bedford Streets, West Village
Shop To It (WWD)