« May 2010 | Main | July 2010 »


A&F Quarterly Returns!
Can It Save Abercrombie & Fitch?

Last week Abercrombie & Fitch announced the return of the A&F Quarterly, the chain's infamous "magalog" featuring lots of attractive, young models with not enough clothes to go around, that helped to reposition the once venerable sporting and travel outfitter as a wildly successful youth-oriented sportswear retailer.

Fans may remember that the lavishly produced publication was sadly suspended in the U.S in 2003 when the constant protests against the racy content and sexy Bruce Weber photographs became too overwhelming to ignore, and producing the book became more trouble than it was worth.

Now that the chain's sales have stagnated at a dangerously low point, however, it seems that measures must be taken to correct it's wealened condition, and rather than rethinking and updating the stores' merchandise, advertising and interiors, the folks at Abercrombie have decided (apparently in the spirit of their unchanging merchandise) to bring back something people used to like around seven years ago... because that always works. Also, after years of stories about how dreadful their stores are to work in and settling numerous lawsuits regarding discrimination and hiring practices, they probably remembered that they really don't care if they offend anyone.

The relaunched 176-page quarterly will be released on Saturday, July 17th at a return engagement bonus price of $10 (that's a bonus for A&F, not you), and can be pre-reserved (online HERE) to pick up at your nearest Abercombie & Fitch location for a limited few hours only on that afternoon. One minute late, and you'll have to fight with the masses for your copy. It promises the familiar mix of humor, product and soft-core porn that its subscribers had come to love so.... sign us up!

Listen, Abercrombie & Fitch has given us hours of laughter and a considerable amount of material over the years. It, and its little brother Hollister, have become, without question, ridiculous stores, but one thing we had never complained about was the Quarterly. It gives us all the sexy Bruce Weber pictures without our having to actually go into an Abercrombie store and endure the noxious colognes they pump into the air or the ridiculously loud soundtrack of circuit music too cheesy for even the tackiest of gay bars. We don't for a minute think that resuming its publication will help turn around the chain's fortunes. In fact, its return simply proves that the company as it is being run right now is totally allergic to new ideas. That, however, won't stop us from enjoying it while it lasts. See you on the 17th!

A&F Quarterly (via Towleroad)

This Week Online

CBenzimage There's all sorts of surprises on the sale sites this week. Did you know that Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas makes shoes? Ideeli does, apparently. Gilt is promoting its first sale for up-and-coming designer Chris Benz (at left) along with an extravaganza of Diamonds in an unusually jewelry-heavy week. Here is just a sampling of what looks good to us amongst the most popular 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. Happy clicking!
Casadei, Chris Benz, Diamonds, Diamonds, Diamonds, Kiki de Montparnasse, Tocca, James Jeans, Temple St. Clair Carr Jewelry, Kenneth Jay Lane, Daryl K, Jil Sander, Shipley & Halmos —join HERE
John Varvatos Collection, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Moschino, Nicholas K, Loden Dager, Diesel, Calvin Klein Collection, Kai D., Bblessing, Duncan Quinn, Gilded Age —join HERE
Iitalla, Matteo Bedding, Bernhardt Furniture, Creminelli Fine Meats, Mundial Knives, Donna Karan Home —join HERE
Cole Haan, Miguelina, Diesel, Invicta, Kitchen Aid, Mandarina Duck, French Connection, Vince Camuto, Michael Kors Home —join HERE
Elliott Luca, Fergie Shoes, Hale Bob, Arcuisine, Noir —join HERE
United Colors of Benetton, Bungalow No. 9, Victorinox, Cuisipro, Bliss Studio, Christofle, Vera Wang Fine Papers, Rare Posters —join HERE
William Rast, Kevyn Aucoin, Donald J. Pliner, Laundry by Shelli Segal, StriVectin, Tourneau Certified Pre-Owned, Guess, Sorrelli —join HERE


Moncler Coming To Prince Street


Perhaps we were supposed to know already about this, but this plywood going up outside what used to be the lovely restaurant Zöe at 90 Prince Street means that New Yorkers will soon have our own freestanding Moncler shop for wildly expensive skiwear. Presumably, the store will offer the pricey but prestigious line of shiny, down puffer jackets as well as the more exclusive Gamme Rouge and Gamme Bleu labels, designed by Giambattista Valli and Thom Browne, respectively. So far, we have no official word on an opening date, but we are guessing it will be for the Holidays, unless they have magical elves who can convert the former restaurant into a boutique by Fashion Week in September (stranger things have been known to happen).

The image on the plywood is from the Italian company's Bruce Weber ad campaign. Obviously, the first thing that comes to our mind when we think of a $900 down jacket is throwing it into the swimming pool so our dog can chomp on it. Really, what else is there to do with something like that?

Moncler (Official Site)


UNIQLO x Velvet
by Graham & Spencer Debuts Today


The tireless folks at UNIQLO set out their latest Designers Invitation Project collaboration today, and while Los Angeles's casual Velvet by Graham & Spencer may not appear to be the kind of "luxe for less" line you have come to expect, we'd be surprised if you fail to be charmed by the well priced 14-piece collection of breezy jersey sportwear. We got a close look this morning at a VIP pre-shopping event, and were again impressed by the amount of care put into the line which retails for a mere $15.50 to $19.50 (at least the price of their regular line). Pretty much every piece is appropriate for packing into your weekend bag and tossing over a bathing suit, but one genial associate made sure we noticed the subtle tucks and gathers on the shoulders of her dress which could easily go out to dinner with a switch from flip-flops to heels.

As usual, the goods will be available while supplies last, so it's worth braving even the daily afternoon crowds before the best pieces sell out.

Velvet by Graham & Spencer x UNIQLO 546 Broadway between Prince & Spring Streets, SoHo

Collaboration Anticipation: UNIQLO Follows Up With A Velvet Touch



Off-Price Stupor Edition

Z-CRITIC-B-popup This week's Thursday Styles finds Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica thoroughly nonplussed by the much heralded Nordstrom Rack now occupying part of the Virgin Megastore's carcass on Union Square. As he desperately combs the store's packed racks for something, anything to buy, he comes to  the conclusion that shopping off-price is not unlike shopping at thrift stores,

Boosters of shopping for used and vintage clothing like to portray it as a thrilling hunt, but really it’s a series of compromises: Will you find a piece that’s not exactly what you came in the door looking for, forgive its flaws and take it home?

After hours of rummaging, Caramanica discovers a shirt he can live with from the kind of mystery label that seems to live only in off-price stores. Overall, he surmises that even the deeply discounted offerings from familiar designers at the Rack are typically hopelessly flawed.

A silvery lambskin jacket by John Varvatos ($800, from $2,595) fit perfectly, but it glowed bioluminescently under the drowsy lights. Its tag marked it as a limited edition, No. 25 of 52, though a fuller search of the rack turned up Nos. 2 and 6 as well. Somewhere, a protean boy band is without its next stage outfit. A black Burberry trench coat ($400, from $1,195) was slick, but its padded lining gave it a Kevlar-y bulk.

And so the initial glow of novelty appears to have faded from the Rack as it fades into the growing morass of off-pricers (TJ Maxx, Filene's Basement, Syms, Century 21, etc.) now dotting the city.

Can we just have a real, full-line Nordstrom now?

Critical Shopper | Nordstrom Rack: Bargain Hunting Begins to Wear on You By Jon Caramainca (NYTimes)
Nordstrom Rack 60 East 14th Street between Broadway & Fourth Avenue, Union Square

RESORT 2011:

Douglas Hannant
Delivers A Crowd Pleaser

Douglas HannantResort2011-2
Click all images for a larger view in a new window
The Resort Collections have been unspooling over the past few weeks, and though The Shophound is DouglasHannantFrontRow-B usually pretty busy during Fashion Week, the pre-collections typically pass us over.... which is actually just fine. Two Fashion Weeks a year is plenty for us. We were, however, happy to get the call for Douglas Hannant's Resort show yesterday partly because we somehow keep missing his regular season shows in the mess of Fashion Week's chaotic double and triple booked schedule.

Removed from all that frenzy, Hannant's show had a more relaxed intimate ambiance, and the gilded setting of the Plaza Hotel's Terrace Foyer made a perfect backdrop. Without the crush of out-of-town press, the show's audience was weighted in favor of clients who made a party out of their side of the runway. While the press and buyers across the catwalk buried themselves in their Blackberries, DouglasHannantFrontRow-A Hannant's faithful customers like CeCe Cord, still as willowy as any model in a sleek black trouser ensemble, posed for photos, traded gossip and compared outfits. When the show started, it was clear from their approving smiles, that Hannant hit his mark. In fact, The graphic, occasionally mod-ish collection that came down the runway wasn't far removed from what his clients were already wearing, and that was more than OK with them. There were crisp white jackets and picture hats on the runway and in the audience, and when the show ended, the clients resumed their social hour, while the press and buyers slipped back down the Plaza's marble steps and back to work.



Buberry Finally Ousts
Les Pierres Antiques

For about a year and a half, we have been wondering and speculating who was going to take the Bleecker Street space currently occupied by Les Pierre Antiques. Ever since it was prominently advertised as available in WWD, it has been a foregone conclusion that the much loved store, a vestige of Bleecker's heritage as an antiques street, would be in for some sort of transition, but who would take its place.

Today, Crain's announces that Burberry has taken the enviable 1,800-square-foot shop at the corner of Charles Street for 10 years to open a third Manhattan outpost for its fast expanding Burberry Brit line. Crain's describes the ejection of Les Pierre as a result of ongoing gentrification, but really, isn't an exclusive boutique specializing in expensive French country antiques actually more upscale than yet another shop devoted to Burberry's contemporary priced sportswear line?

If anything, with all the chains and brands that have transformed it, what has happened to Bleecker street is a sort of anti-gentrification. The rents are certainly higher, but many of the stores (Sunglass Hut?) are far less interesting and exclusive that what they replaced, to say the least.

Brits Oust Antiques on Bleecker (Crain's via Racked)

Upcoming Relocations: Leo Design Gets Booted Off Bleecker
Transitions: Treasures & Trifles Another Longtime Bleecker Street Store Exits


The Best Chocolate Cake In The World Coming To NoLita

16cakespan-1-articleLargeAnd, yes, that is not only the product, but the name of the cafe coming to the edge of SoHo at 55a Spring Street, nudging up against neighborhood favorite patisserie Ceci-Cela. Actually, it is really called O Melhor De Bolo De Chocolate Do Mundo, but we are expecting a translation for our shores (so far the website does not have an English language version).

The Times reports that this delicacy, imported from Sao Paolo, Brazil, is based on a chocolate dacquoise from Fauchon in Paris, and the boldly named chain has flourished in Portugal and Spain as well, so it comes with a pedigree. How will layers of meringue, mousse and ganache fare with New Yorkers who tend to like their chocolate cakes dense and fudgy? We'll find out this week when the shop opens. A taste will run you from $6.50 for a slice up to $55 for an entire 11-inch cake, and if the store succeeds, we can probably expect more branches throughout the U.S. In the meantime, however, we will be interested to see if this cake will inspire the kind of lines of anxious New York foodies that will form when imported goodies make a claim on our turf. Remember Grom? They just opened their third shop in Manhattan.

The Best Chocolate Cake in the World 55a Spring Street at Lafayette Street, NoLita
Food Stuff: A New Chocolate Cake in New York (NYTimes)


New Photos Surface of
Cristiano Ronaldo for Armani


The Shophound is still on a reduced schedule for a few days, but it would be wrong of us not to pass along these nice photos of Soccer Star Cristiano Ronaldo that the fine folks at Giorgio Armani have kindly sent to us. It would be selfish to hog them. The shots are from the Fall/Winter 2010-11 Armani Jeans and Emporio Armani Underwear campaigns and have been released just in time for maximum World Cup publicity. It's good to see that he is still taking care of himself. Don't forget to click the images for a full-sized view.


This Week Online

There's still tons of Father's Day Promotion on the online Sale sites this week, but keep an eye out for Marni's accessory sale at Gilt along with Vena Cava on Tuesday as well as welcome redesigned sites at Ideeli (which has Prabal Gurung starting on Monday) and HauteLook that should make shopping a little easier. 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 especially since Gilt Man has begun a series of "after hours" sales that launch in the evening for the guys who don't have time for that lunchtime web-surfing. Happy clicking!
Stuart Weitzman, Marni Accessories & Shoes, Henry Dunay Jewelry, Piazza Sempione, Vena Cava, Tom Binns, Paige Premium Denim, BOSS Black —join HERE
MEN'S FINAL SALE, Hurley, Rock & Republic, Cesare Paciotti, Blinde Sunglasses, Trovata, Bespoken, Commonwealth Utilities, Naked & Famous Jeans —join HERE
Mercer Cutlery, Tumi Luggage, Johnston's Cashmere, Jay Strongwater, Novica, Stark Home & Rugs, D. Porthault—join HERE
Theory Women's & Men's, Via Spiga, Arthur Court, Botkier, Arnold Zimberg, Lafayette 148, Hickey-Freeman, Leifsdottir, J Brand, Rafé —join HERE
Nautica, Prabal Gurung, Lacoste Home, Bodywrap, Christian Cota, Vince Camuto, Tarina Tarantino, Michael Stars —join HERE
Shun Cutlery, Waverly Storage, Missoni Rugs, Rizzoli, Thomas O'Brien, Reed & Barton,  —join HERE
7 For All Mankind Apparel & Accessories, Simpler Pleasures Bedding, Smashbox, MICHAEL-Michael Kors, BCBG MAx Azria, Freeze 24/7, Kensie, Mac & Jac —join HERE