« May 2010 | Main | July 2010 »


Target East River Plaza Gets An ETA

After several delays, Manhattan's first permanent, full-line TARGET will finally open its doors on July 25th. The long awaited store will join the already open Costo and Best Buy locations at East River Plaza. Regular 6 Train riders will have noticed that the popular discount chain has covered the cars with graphics to promote the upcoming store, even though it's still quite a schlep to the end of East 116th Street to get to the store after one has exited the nearest Subway (hopefully the Second Avenue line, which should be completed sometime before the next ice age, will offer a more convenient transport to the store).

The Wall Street Journal reports that not only will there be a lavish, celebrity studded gala party to celebrate the store on the 21st of next month, the store will offer some exclusive designer collaborations from New York designers including beachwear from Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Harlem resident Stephen Burrows's signature slinky apparel, and even NYC chef Marcus Samuelsson will offer some specially designed potholders to mark the event.

Ultimately, we're not actually sure that this new store will be more convenient for a lot of Manhattanites than the Brooklyn Target at Atlantic Terminal, but that's hardly the point. It's a Target in Manhattan, and it's coming soon!

Target To Unveil First Manhattan Store (WSJ via RACKED)


LEGO Drops A Giant Plastic Apple
In Rockefeller Center


While the new LEGO Store in Rockefeller Center quietly opened its doors last week, its grand opening was actually yesterday, when the serious promotional activity took over Rockefeller Center. Stop by the Channel LegoROCKctrkids Gardens between Fifth Avenue and the Skating Rink, and discover that the usual lush greenery is gone, replaced with mini cityscapes created by kids who were lucky enough to stop by the store. At the end, a giant 15-foot apple is being constructed to celebrate the store's opening. Currently, tents have been set up alongside the sunken Skating Rink, and visitors are being encouraged to participate by building bricks for the apple out of...little Lego bricks. The place is crawling with LEGO staff to make sure things proceed in an orderly manner

Today, Wednesday, the first 500 customers to spend $35 in the new store (which means buying basically anything) will get an exclusive LEGO New York Apple t-shirt (in children's sizes), and tomorrow, similar customers will get a limited-edition LEGO Apple set.

So if you have a bunch of kids who are out of school and diving you crazy already, this would be the perfect time to tote them on down to Rockefeller Plaza for a flurry of building activity.


Cintra Wilson Braves Forever 21
For The Cut

Forever21cut Erstwhile Thursday Styles Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson has not been forced off the beat for long. Her byline has been taken up by New York Magazine's The Cut who has dispatched her to the brand new behemoth Forever 21 in Times Square. As you can imagine, there were no punches pulled in her assessment of the controversial chain's new flagship. She has something pointed to say about the impossibly low prices, the not fully realized interior design concept and the challenges opening an enormous store with a merchandise range that might not actually be varied enough to fill it'

...the zillion racks of glossy inventory are all hilariously similar. In one section, big T-shirts and cutoff shorts, with stripes! In the next: big T-shirts and cutoff shorts, with yellow stripes! On another floor, big T-shirts and cutoff shorts, with grommets!

In the end, it is the punishing commotion inside the store that seems to drive sales, either compelling young customers to shop or torturing their parents enough that they will buy them anything just to get out of there,

"All right, Brittany, for Christ’s sake, you can get the damned Lady Gaga body stocking and the stretch-lace Day-Glo thong and the fake Léger bandage/bondage dress ... just get me the hell out of here!" After four Excedrin and box of Pinot Grigio, moms won't care if their daughters dress like they're running a K-12 escort service.

A slightly shorter format as well as the possibility of publishing any day, not just every other Thursday may be a boon to fans of Wilson's insight. Here's hoping for more Cintra more often on The Cut.

Cintra Wilson on the New Forever 21 in Times Square (The Cut)

This Week Online

Some of the Sample Sale Sites are having a light week, but there are still a few tempting offerings out there including more home items. Here is just a sampling of what looks good to us 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. Happy clicking!
Marc by Marc Jacobs Swim, Tara Pearls, Calvin Klein Collection & Michael Kors, Derek Lam, Erin Fetherston, Vera Wang Collection, Tommy HIlfiger, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Habitual, See by Chloé —join HERE
Mosley Tribes & Paul Smith Optical, Zegna Cufflinks —join HERE
Blu Dot, Kyocera Ceramic Knives, Ming Tsai Smoked Seafood, John Boos Furniture, Kukunest Children's Bedding, Bahari, Rosanna Inc. —join HERE
Honora, Carmen Marc Valvo, Hunter Dixon, Dylan George, Garnet Hill, Judith Ripka, Laura Geller Beauty, Jack Victor, The Surrey NYC, Pratesi, Cuddledown, Givenchy Eyewear —join HERE
Custo Barcelona, Gustto, Orrefors, Jardin, Victorinox, KC Designs —join HERE
Environment, Artecnica, Heys USA, Lilly Pulitzer, Bellora Bedding & Bath, Lux, Safavieh Rugs, Bailey Street —join HERE
C&C California, Serfontaine, Ben Sherman, Gypsy 05, American Apparel, Judith Leiber, Vincent Longo —join HERE

Gay Pride Gets Toned Down On Bleecker This Year

Click all images for a larger view in a new window
We haven't done a full survey, but we are pretty sure that the Black Fleece store on Bleecker Street is the only Brooks Brothers location with Gay Pride rainbow flags in its windows (pictured above). We wouldn't actually expect to see them anywhere else. Every year at the end of June, however, several of the stores on Bleecker seem to be in a competition to see who can look extra gay for a few weeks, even if its just a few flags tossed in like Black Fleece has. This year, however, things seem a bit more subdued even as, ironically, gay issues like Don't Ask, Don't Tell and Marriage Equality move to the political forefront. Perhaps last year's exuberance was too much for the increasingly tourist packed crowds shopping on Bleecker.

BleeckerPride10RalphLauren Are the multicolored lights on the "R" and "L" in Ralph Lauren's men's shop windows (at left) meant to represent a rainbow? If so, it's a much subtler message than the racks of rainbow polo shirts he has used in season's past, although the mannequins dressed to go right to The White Party, which is pretty gay.

BleeckerPride10MarcJacobsMarc Jacobs, generally the leader in this activity, has settled on a message, "That's so gay! Be proud!" inscribed on the windows of each of his stores (at right). It's a clever subversion of the persistent pejorative use of the word "gay", and though it's much quieter than last year's exuberant graffiti, it's definitely an improvement over the "Rebel Pride" t-shirts from a couple of years ago, which didn't go over so well as we recall.

BleeckerPride10GantRugger Newcomer Gant Rugger (at left) joins in with a "Happy Plaid" message (oh, the puns this year!) and polo shirts layered to recall rainbow colors, a solid effort with little window space.

And finally, we're not entirely sure if John Bartlett's new Tiny Tim rainbow tees around the corner in his 7th Avenue windows (below) are specifically meant for Gay Pride. They feature John's own three-legged dog and mascot, and a portion of their proceeds go to the North Shore Animal League, but aesthetically, they fit the theme, so we'll give him credit for double duty in the West Village. 

Ralph, Marc & Bloomingdale's Commemorate As Gay Pride Hits Middle Age
Can Marc Jacobs Make The Rainbow Flag Chic?



Lego Arrives In Rockefeller Center


It doesn't officially open until Tuesday, but the doors are open at New York City's first Lego Store which took over Brookstone's spot in Rockefeller Center. LegoBrickWall In typical Lego style, the centerpiece of the store is a miniature replica of the architectural landmark populated by tiny Lego people and characters from their many product lines (Star Wars stormtroopers at the Top of the Rock!). Of course, around the store there are more of the iconic toy brand's take on the various other Art Deco hallmarks of it's famous, new home like an Atlas stature here, and a re-imagined bas-relief over there. As always, one of the main attraction is an extra large selection of loose plastic bricks in the color and configuration of your choice available in bulk. Even an sizable store like this one is nowhere near large enough to carry the brand's entire product offerings, but it's certainly the biggest presentation of Lego you'll find in the city of what, in The Shophound's humble opinion, is the best toy ever in the history of toys. Next week, there will be all sorts of hoopla and a few giveaways for the store's official opening, but if you would like to shop in relative calm (it is, after all, in tourist infested Rockefeller Center), you have the weekend.

The LEGO Store Rockefeller Center, Midtown



Magnolia On Bleecker
Out Of Commission


There are insane lines of crazy fools around all the Apple Stores today for the new iPhone (big surprise), but the one corner that nearly always has a queue is conspicuously bare of gullible customers. The tiny Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street has delighting tourists and tormenting its neighbors for years now, but due to a busted air conditioning system, it will not be running its ovens in that location, particularly on exceedingly hot days like today.

So, no cupcakes, and therefore, no line.

Magnolia haters (and they are legion) will be amused to know that getting a new commercial air conditioning system in a historic landmark district is no easy feat, so it may be a while before the line people who don't know any better returns to the famous bakery, but for now, those who find the place hopelessly irksome will be able to turn the corner at Bleecker and West 11th Street without congestion...at least for the moment.


Triple Duty Edition

Z-CRITIC-A-articleLargeIn tomorrow's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Ruth La Ferla makes her way to Chinese based retailer JNBY's permanent store which appears to have opened very quietly in the past few weeks.

Initially, La Ferla seems to be flummoxed by the racks of shapeless, blobby garments, which surprises us. From her descriptions, (and from what we saw in their previous, temporary store) it sounds like JBNY is only one of a growing number of clothing makers who have been "inspired" shall we say by Rick Owens. Once a cult designer, his drapey, sometimes droopy goth-tinged aesthetic has caught hold among young fashion fans, and JBNY is but a few blocks throw from obvious Owens fan AllSaints Spitalfields on Broadway. We would have thought La Ferla would have immediately recognized the designer's growing influence by now. Instead, it is determined salesperson Alice who pushes her into a fitting room and gets to work.

“Just play with it,” Alice, a cheerily accommodating manager, urged, handing me a black linen wrap, a grainy-textured variation on a dancer’s warm-up sweater ($215). Her lilting invitation, uttered like a mantra, ought to be stamped on the company’s hang tags.
With little else to occupy a storm-soaked Sunday afternoon, I obliged, flipping an attenuated cardigan upside down to turn it into a shrug, the strategically placed Y-shaped dart at its rear causing it to billow flatteringly. “See, you can push up the sleeves,” Alice said. I did and was impressed to see it mutate into a Gothic-looking wrap.

And there you have it, JBNY is for the fashion savant, or those willing to take direction.

Critical Shopper | JNBY: Shape Shifters That Mutate With You By Ruth La Ferla (NYTimes)
75 Greene Street between Spring & Prince Streets, SoHo


Seasonal Disorder At Burberry Brit

The sales associate who greeted us couldn't have been more exemplary with a cheerful smile and outfitted in his store's latest items, perfectly rolled jeans, a checked shirt and puffy, new down vest.

In the middle of June.

No matter how cute charming he looked, there was no escaping the idiocy of parading around in Winter outerwear before the first day of Summer, let alone Fall (and indoors, no less). But then, Burberry Brit just opened its doors a couple of weeks ago on Columbus Avenue, and with no leftover goods from previous seasons, it could only be stocked with current deliveries. What's current in June? Pre-Fall. So the store was stocked with flannel shirts, down jackets, woolly peacoats and plenty of cashmere sweaters. While there were certainly some seasonless items like jeans and polo shirts with logos (as Burberry's brands get sportier and more casual, they also get a lot more boring, it must be said), there was no sign of the linen shirts or other lightweight items that one would have more tempting on an 85° day.

It's the absurd conceit of the retail business. Every designer and retailer complains that they would rather sell wear-now clothes in season and that everyone is showing and shipping collections too early, but everyone continues on doing things the same way. Right now designers have just finished several weeks of showing press and buyers their resort and pre-spring lines which will arrive in stores at around the end of October, just when Fall weather starts kicking in. In Milan it's the middle of Men's Fashion Week for Spring 2011, just as Spring 2010 is being marked down in department stores.

Oddly enough, this is a problem that really seems to face only high end designers and retailers who are supposed to be leading the industry. Last week we were kindly invited to a Holiday/Resort press preview at Ann Taylor, a chain store we don't really pay that much attention to. We were, however, impressed by their lineup. Was there a hint of Lanvin or Chanel on the mannequins? Sure, but skillfully translated for Ann Taylor's customers, and the offerings often looked much more expensive than they actually would be when they hit the selling floor. What impressed us most was that the merchandise was exactly what one should see in stores in November and December: coats, sweaters cashmere scarves, sparkly crystal and ribbon jewelry and, yes, about 25% of the preview was devoted to lighter dressing for vacations or warm weather locations. The type of merchandise that Burberry is filling its stores with right now is pretty much what Ann Taylor plans to offer in about four months, when people will actually want to wear it.

Perhaps the celebrated luxury brands and stores might want to take a lesson from the mass market which appears to have a much better sense of what to offer customers at any particular time of year. As we left Ann Taylor, we were handed a gift bag that included one of the big sparkly necklaces that will be offered for the Holidays. For us, it was perfect timing to wear right now...maybe for Gay Pride?

Burberry Brit 160 Columbus Avenue between 67th & 68th Streets, Upper West Side


Urban Outfitters Passes Up A Real Vintage Storefront For Fake Ones

Yesterday, Urban Outfitters revealed in The Wall Street Journal that their upcoming store on on Broadway between 99th & 100th Streets would feature four false storefronts, a hat store, a hardware store, a neighborhood bar and a bodega. Aside from the obvious condescension of the concept ("Oh, crummy old New York shops -aren't they charming?") this unusual architectural conceit is meant to pay some sort of tribute to independent businesses of the city -something of which there are still plenty on upper Broadway, by the way. Of course there's something not quite right about the store paying tribute to the kinds of businesses that were probably torn down to make way for the sleek luxury high rise whose lower floors Urban Outfitters will be occupying when the store opens in late August. We have to wonder what the people in the expensive condos that rise over the future store are to think about the formerly sleek front of their luxury building being un-gentrified

That's not even the big irony here, though.

Originally, UO had intended to open its store across the street in the landmarked site of the Metro cinema (pictured above), but several  months after the store was announced, it was decided that renovating the space, whose original, lavish Art Deco interior had previously been cruelly gutted, was too complicated and costly, so a move was made across Broadway to another, newer space that had been waiting a long time to finally be leased.

While Urban Outfitters is currently dismantling the contemporary facade of a relatively new building behind plywood to put up ersatz storefronts (pictured below), a beautiful Art Deco landmark with genuine inherent charm sits in disrepair across the street still waiting for someone who will find some use for it and return at least the exterior to something approximating its former glory.

Urban Outfitters' Chic Storefronts (Wall Street Journal)
Landmark Conversion: The West Side's Metro Theater To Become Urban Outfitters
Switcheroos: Urban Outfitters Swaps Sites