An unfinished version of this post was mistakenly published last Friday May 21st. This is the completed version.
Here's what we learned from our visit to the new All Saints store that opened on Friday in SoHo:
1. If everything is gray and brown, then it all matches!
2. Ankle boots can be worn with with anything.
3. Any rusted old piece of junk or scrap metal can be used as decor.
Well, actually, we already knew all those things, but we were strongly reminded by SoHo's latest addition. The store's overall impression looks like what might happen if Rick Owens and Comme des Garçons' Rei Kawakubo teamed up to invade and conquer Abercrombie & Fitch, and that turns out to be a good thing. The London based label has been around since the early 1990s, occasionally popping up in places like Barneys Co-op or Bloomingdale's, but not establishing more than a niche presence in the U.S. at best —until now. The company is on an expansion roll, having already opened stores in Miami, Boston and L.A. with openings scheduled later this year in, San Francisco and Santa Monica. Here in New York, the brand took over the mazelike space once occupied by sneaker palace Michael K and cleared it out all the way to Crosby Street, unearthing some of the old cast-iron building's long hidden beauty which not coincidentally creates a perfect backdrop for All Saints' workwear/military aesthetic. A wall festooned with vintage Singer sewing machines as well as display fixtures constructed from salvaged industrial materials (or made to look that way) contribute to the prevailing steampunk look, which is not to say that there's no room for the latest technology. iPads are strategically installed throughout the store, allowing customers to browse digital touch-screen catalogs. Another installation of ram skulls behind the main register (pictured above) lends the macabre air of decay that all those distressed and deconstructed clothes need.
The All Saints staff is certainly among the most carefully styled we have seen anywhere. Instead of putting the employees in uniforms or basic stock items, most of the salespeople are dressed to the nines. They all appear to be individually styled to showcase different looks rather than fade into the background, so one salesperson's jacket collar is carefully turned up at the perfect angle, while another's wide neck sweater slides off her shoulder just so. Many of the women employees sport variations of the label's asymmetrical cotton pouf dresses, with the men in narrow pants rolled to the knee with tightly laced ankle boots, many versions of which are available for sale to both genders. We have to give the store credit for pushing its native London sense of high style rather than catering to the lowest common denominator, although there are baggy cargo shorts available if you absolutely must have them. Except for a few pairs of selvedge jeans ($135), there is not a single item of clothing at All Saints that has not been washed, distressed, tumbled or crushed in one way or another including shoes mostly ($200-270) and leather jackets (around $400-700). While the label has always been known for a vintage, surplus-y aesthetic, this is the first time we have been able to take in the entire brand concept as a whole, and it looks appealing and just different enough to capture even those shoppers who are already overwhelmed by SoHo's offerings.
All Saints - Spitalfields 512 Broadway between Spring and Broome Streets, SoHo