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Freeman's Sporting Club
& Gant Rugger Arrive
Coach Sheds Plywood & More


It's been a busy week on Bleecker Street with the arrivals of two men's stores, the imminent opening of a third and some news about possible newcomers to the small but ever more significant shopping strip.

A week ago, Freeman's Sporting Club took their madras shirts and hand tailored suits West to the corner of Christopher and Bleecker and deposited them in a long empty bodega that, from the looks of things, is still being finished. They must have been up all night, because when we walked by the day before, they were still sawing and hammering away, and by Friday, the doors were open and the goods were stacked on freshly constructed shelves of unfinished pine. We are promised that an actual sign is on the way.

Gantruggerbleecker Freeman's fits nicely with its even newer neighbor, Gant Rugger (left) which opened yesterday in the former home of Gerry's which has been empty for like three years. Even gentrification haters should be relieved to see something fill up the narrow, deep space that is typical for the street. While their store is a bit more polished, Gant Rugger has a not unrelated vintage-y feeling with most of its stock based on pieces from the venerable brand's archives. Yes, there's more madras and khaki, which there just can't be enough of this season. We were warmly greeted in the store by someone we suspect was a Gant executive who quickly eroded away her gracious welcome by peppering us with questions: Were we familiar with Gant Rugger? Did we recognize it from shopping at Barneys? Do we live in the city? Where? What brought us in the store? Did we come for something special or were we just wandering around aimlessly?

We certainly expect to see an executive or two on opening day, but we dearly hope this person is not actually the store manager. In that case, we would suggest preparing an information sheet for her so you can avoid interrogation and shop in peace if you plan to visit Gant Rugger this weekend. Seriously, we wore Gant Rugby shirts for most of our childhood. We didn't really need an impromptu tutorial. Otherwise, the store is delightful.

In the next block, the plywood has come off the upcoming Coach Legacy Men's Store (below), and while the windows are still papered over, a brief glimpse through the doorway suggests that the store will be welcoming customers very soon -perhaps this weekend? The new brown awning will, of course, distinguish the men's shop from its girly counterpart next door.

Finally, yesterday's Wall Street Journal took a survey of the few empty spaces and still rising rents in the highly coveted shopping district, and casually dropped the names of a few stores yet to arrive there including, most intriguingly a new A.P.C. store. While no exact address has been announced, a prime candidate would be the former home of Les Pierre Antiques on the corner of Charles Street which has been available for around a year or so. Sadly, Les Pierre was one of the last of the original Bleecker Street antique shops, but its departure was probably inevitable at some point. Also coming is a new branch of the women's contemporary boutique PinkyOtto, Echelon Cycles, which as a pretty serious looking cycling and sport shop should add some variety, and surprisingly, Molly's Cupcakes, a Chicago based cupcake shop which apparently has the nerve to set up shop at the very epicenter of the cupcake craze and go head to head with mighty Magnolia Bakery on its own turf. Good luck to you, Molly! Get ready for a warm welcome from the neighborhood locals, or maybe picketing. Either one or both are an entirely possible scenario.

Gant Rugger 353 Bleecker Street between West 10th & Charles Streets
Freeman's Sporting Club 327 Bleecker Street at Christopher Street
On Bleecker, Money Talks Ever Louder By Craig Karmin (The Wall Street Journal)



Rogues Gallery/John Bartlett
Returns For Round II

RGJBcoliseumTee Last Fall's team-up of John Bartlett and Rogues Gallery designer Alex Carleton was such a sellout that a sequel was to be fully expected, and we are looking forward to next week's launch to see in person what the latest fruits of this collaboration will be.

From the looks of the preview pics we got yesterday, the new line will have a clever Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquity theme featuring vintage t-shirts and tanks along with beach ready canvas totes and other accessories.

Carleton has recently reined in the Rogues Gallery business to regain control and consolidate production in Maine as well as to allow attention for his other job as creative director for the L.L.Bean Signature collection. Thankfully, he has managed to make time to keep the capsule collection with Bartlett going, which should keep the growing customer base at the designer's West Village boutique very happy indeed.

John Bartlett (Official Site)
Rogues Gallery (Official Site)
Rogues Gallery/John Bartlett Collaboration Is A Hit As The Designer Bounces Back


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Crockett & Jones Makes A
New Footprint On 56th Street


You may recall that The Shophound was none to pleased when we discovered that J.M. Weston, one of our most highly esteemed shoemakers, had closed its Madison Avenue boutique. Yesterday we were consoled to find British cobbler Crockett & Jones' first freestanding U.S. storefront on West 56th Street.

Formerly represented by a shop on an upper floor of Turnbull & Asser on East 57th Street, Crockett & Jones will be well known to loyal Barneys and Turnbull shoppers, and the family owned company has also been making many of Ralph Lauren's English-made men's shoes in its factory over the years. Outside of that, however, the Northampton based, family owned brand may be somewhat less familiar than Church's for example, which has had a network of American stores for decades. Opened earlier this month, this shop should remedy that visibility problem with a breadth of selection that easily trumps the new "updated" Church's currently controlled by Prada. In the new store we found every possible permutation of classic English footwear and boots along with a few antique pieces and made to order options, all carefully displayed in a bright, traditionally appointed interior.

We can tell you from personal experience that Crockett & Jones makes the kind of timeless, immaculately produced Goodyear-welted shoes that, with proper care and feeding, can last a lifetime. We do love a fine English shoe, and this store is full of them.

Crockett & Jones 7 West 56th Street, Midtown


Saturday Is Free Comic Book Day

LogoThere's not many opportunities to just walk into a store and fill up your bag with free stuff, but this Saturday, May 1st is Free Comic Book Day, an annual event when the major comic publishers (DC, Marvel, Archie, etc.) publish special editions of their wares and participating comic stores pile a table high with gratis merchandise for as long as it lasts. It's a major event at retailers like Forbidden Planet, Midtown Comics and Jim Hanley's Universe, so if you see a line outside your local comic store, you'll know why. Think of it as the Barneys Warehouse Sale for geeks.

See, now you get what we're talking about. You may just want to queue up yourself. We won't tell anyone.


Brooklyn Pacifist Edition

27criticspanf-articleLargeThis week's Thursday Styles sends Critical Shopper Jon Carmanica to Boerum Hill (or Cobble Hill, or someplace in between. Who the Hell can tell the difference anymore?) to focus on Epaulet, one of a group of boutiques in the area who cater to the hipster-preps of Brooklyn. He certainly doesn't bury the lede, initially proclaiming that he walked out of the shop with a smile and a full shopping bag, which pretty much tells you all you need to know. But no, there's more. Jon imagines a fight between the boutique and a more ruggedly stocked neighbor a few steps away,

Down the street from Epaulet is Smith & Butler, with its surlier take on masculinity: broader shoulders; angrier, more abraded fabrics; a more rugged décor. In a fight, Smith & Butler would wallop Epaulet, but be thoughtful enough to not bruise the face.

It makes us wonder if Atlantic Avenue's Hollander & Lexer played a grizzled old referee in the scenario. Once again ignoring that the store also sells women's items (including an extensive selection of rubber shoes from Melissa), Caramanica zeros in on Epaulet's strengths, accessories and shoes by the likes of Alden and Mark McNairy and continues to catalog the shop's various items, noting that however classic the style may be, the clothes are cut for the youthful and slender of arm and thigh. We are still left with that image of brawling boutiques, though we think it would have wound up more like a Smith Street style-off. Not so macho after all.

Critical Shopper | Epaulet: Cutting No Corners on This Side of the Street By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Epaulet  231 Smith Street between Douglass and Butler Streets, Boerum/Cobble Hill, Brooklyn


No Sale Yet, But A Gentle Reminder Comes From Takashimaya


Takashimaya's Fifth Avenue store is shutting down in several weeks, so by now we would have expected some kind of store closing sale. Either the store is still waiting on a certification from the city to begin a clearance, or it is simply taking the high road. When we visited the main floor yesterday, there was not a sale sign to be seen. The only indication of its impending demise (aside from the long faces on some of the staff, bless their hearts) was a discreet notice framed by the elevators thanking customers for their business and kindly reminding them that once the store closes, those store credits and gift certificates will be of no use whatsoever.

We're hoping that this is some indication that once it does begin the inevitable sale, Takashimaya intends to maintain a level of dignity. We can respect the choice to bow out with class.

Of course if the big red signs go up tomorrow, we'll know we were wrong —but we'll still be looking for a bargain.

Our friends at Racked have investigated and report that Takashimaya's first closing markdowns will be taken on Monday, May 3rd. Reportedly, the entire store will be at 40% off. Hopefully, things will not get too unruly at the genteel store.

Takashimaya's Closing Sale Officially Begins Monday (Racked)

Liquidation Deferred: Takashimaya Going Out Of Business Sale To Happen... Eventually


Emily & Agyness Deyn
Salute NYC With UT

AggynessEmilyDeyn It's already Tuesday and we haven't written anything about UNIQLO this week, so if you are waiting until May for the chain's Costello Tagliapietra collaboration, model Agyness Deyn and her sister Emily have something to tide you over until then. When UNIQLO approached the famous catwalker for a project, she turned to her sister who has started her own fashion company. The two took Polaroid photos of their favorite New York activities which will decorate a line of T-shirts and tanks for the chain's UT line. The result of their efforts will be available at the store this Friday April 30th.

We have no word whether or not the popular model will be making any appearances to promote the collaboration, but if you stop by the store this Friday, look for the tall, striking bald chick. Aggy has relinquished the bowl cut seen at the right and was recently photographed with her famous locks completely shorn.

Aggy Approved Tanks and Tees (Modelinia)
Collaboration Anticipation: Costello Tagliapietra Hits UNIQLO in May


Dickies Joins
The Luxe Workwear Brigade

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Add Dickies to the list of classic American brands who have boarded the premium bandwagon. The maker of durable work apparel for 88 years has announced a capsule collection to be launched in July called Dickies 1922. The line is named for the year the company was founded and will, as expected, be accompanied by an offbeat promotional campaign featuring New York musicians photographed wearing the clothes. The four piece collection will include two shirt and two pant styles based on archive pieces and will be made with the same quality and methods that the company would have used in the 1930s of completely American sourced materials in one of the label's Texas factories, according to WWD.

Dickies follows a host of companies who have launched more exclusive labels or repositioned themselves and managed to capture the attention of key retailers and bolster their own business including L.L.Bean, Levi's, Woolrich, Pendleton, Timberland, Land's End, Red Wing, Wolverine, Sperry and Filson among many others. As a maker of clothing like coveralls and painters' pants for construction work and other kinds of labor, Dickies may be the most plebian of these brands, which paradoxically makes it all the more appealing to an upscale customer hungry for authenticity in clothing. Dickies will score extra points for using domestic materials and production to replicate archival styles. It's this slightly twisted logic that will allow the company to charge $175 to $200 for the line while much of the rest of its products retails for under $50.

In a similar but unrelated effort, the company will be promoting its basic 874 work trousers as a fashion item. A mainstay of its product line, the pant has remained unchanged for decades, but Dickies will be adding new fabrics and updated fits in an effort to get it in front of a younger, hipper customer (in other words, getting it into Urban Outfitters).

Dickies Creates Vintage-Inspired Capsule Collection (WWD)
Dickies (Official Site)


Is Giles Deacon
Going To Save Ungaro?

Giles Oh the speculation. After a lunch with Emanuel Ungaro executives last week and the confirmed exit of the label's most recent creative director, Estrella Archs, the gossip last week was that British designer and press darling Giles Deacon (at right) would be taking over creative duties for the embattled Paris maison. After a Tweet from JCReport editor Jason Campbell, confirming the appointment as a done deal, Fashionista has announced that Deacon is officially in despite a lack of more authentic confirmation.

Well, maybe he is in, and maybe he isn't, but if he is, then it would be a coup for Ungaro owner Asim Abdullah, and a huge challenge for Deacon (or whoever winds up taking over the label's atelier). After the infamous Lindsay Lohan debacle last fall, the brand had been reduced to something of a laughingstock while its business was left in ruins. It would be a huge job for anyone to reverse that perception, but Deacon, with his often theatrical collections has had the eye of key fashion press and buyers or the past few seasons which could potentially land Ungaro back in stores like Bergdorf's and Barneys for the first time in years. Never mind that the designer's flamboyant, graphic style has almost nothing to do with the opulent, elegant image that Emanuel Ungaro created. At this point, the house's fashion direction has become so muddled that any strong direction would be beneficial.

As if to signal an impending fresh start, the label did officially announce that it would be shelving its men's runway collection for the moment, and its designer Franck Boclet has left and promptly started his own label. If a women's collection is to be presented this Fall, then official news should be imminent.

Giles Deacon’s Officially in at Ungaro (Fashionista)
Ungaro Men's Designer Exits (WWD)

Off-Price On Line This Week

Here is just a sampling of what looks good to us amongst the online Sample Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events. Be sure to check the correct start times for sales on each site. We are expecting fast sellouts for Fendi on Gilt and Chloé at Haute Look. Happy clicking!
Nason Moretti Glass, Fendi Apparel & Accessories, CNC Costume National, Vanessa Noel, Jil Sander & Vera Wang Collection Accessories, Donna Karan Home, Prada Parfums, Judith Ripka, Furla, Michael Aram, —join HERE
Jil Sander, Harry's of London, Hickey, Belvest, Bblessing & Sneaky Steve, Matteo, Calvin Klein Collection —join HERE
Blinde Eyewear, Swarovski Jewelry & Watches, Christopher Fischer, Paul & Joe Sister Accessories —join HERE
Poleci, Timberland, Frock! by Tracy Reese, Kate Spade, Puma —join HERE
Mepra, Invicta, Francesco Biasia,  —join HERE
LG Designs, Oleg Cassini, Fino Lino, Reidel, Godinger, Keith Haring —join HERE
Splendid, Mario Badescu, Designer Watches, Chloé Accessories, Lorac, Sue Wong, DecadesTwo for Men, Mike & Chris —join HERE