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Lord & Taylor To Revive
Its Home Department

There's been no official announcement from the store, but WWD reports today that home furnishings vendors have begun taking orders from Lord & Taylor, which hasn't sold such items in about 20 years. The report says that as a part of the store's long overdue renovations on Fifth Avenue, the ninth floor will now be the Home floor, anchored by Ralph Lauren's Lauren and Calvin Klein's White Label lines. Other brands will probably be added as well (especially since focusing on just those two wouldn't leave much differentiation from Macy's and Bloomingdale's where they are already featured heavily).

There has been much speculation about the final configuration of Lord & Taylor's venerable flagship, which at one point included the possibility of downsizing and closing some floors to selling, but if they are stocking the store all the way up to the ninth floor, it looks more like they are capitalizing on more efficient use of space by adding potentially lucrative departments. You'll find no complaints here. For now, the revived department will be limited to the Fifth Avenue store, but if successful, will likely be rolled out to appropriate locations in the rest of the chain.

Fashion Scoops: L&T's New Home (WWD)


H&M Gets A Relaunch In Harlem


H&M is treating the completed renovation of its 125th Street store practically like a new flagship store opening. Now a pristine white with dramatic lighting, the store almost looks as if a corner of L.A.has been HandMmissladyDJ dropped in the middle of Harlem. Last night, the store held a packed press preview with lots of hors d'oeuvres on trays, a lady DJ spinning vintage soul and R&B and a full bar in the middle of the lingerie room (the Brassiere Bar, we liked to call it), and guests were enthusiastically filling their arms with goods at a 25% discount while they munched on little spring rolls and guzzled Belvedere vodka.

It's today at 10 AM, however, that the official relaunch begins, and the first 200 shoppers into the store will receive a free H&M t-shirt as well as gift cards randomly ranging in value from $10 to $300. If you can't make it for those goodies, there will still be re-opening specials throughout the weekend including ladies' dresses starting at $3, men’s shirts starting at $5, and girls’ leggings starting at $3. That's almost like shopping in the 99¢ store, so if you are looking for a late Summer wardrobe lift, then you should get on up to 125th Street posthaste.

H&M Harlem reopens Friday July 30th, 125 West 125th Street, Harlem


All Star Team Edition

Z-CRITIC-B-popupToday's Critical Shopper, Jon Caramanica, puts a new twist on the usual formula in the Thursday Styles. Veering from his usual menswear beat, he is tasked with covering the mammoth Forever 21 in Times Square (Did La Ferla refuse?). Rather than focus on the store's puny men's department, he brings along a specially recruited team of women, Ace, Fleur and Bolt.

We're already over Forever 21, so we are really more intersted in this expert shopping trio. Are those their real names? Did he find them on a soap opera? In a comic book? On the Powerpuff Girls? Are they all really him making cunning use of a heretofore undisclosed multiple personality disorder? The store has something of a through-the-looking-glass effect on Caramanica, who finds himself distracted by the most curious things,

Spending hours in the store delivered a disorienting funhouse effect. Near the jewelry section, I tried on a huge black bow on a headband ($4.80) that would let me pass for Tavi Gevinson at any future runway show. Fleur put on a surprisingly elegant pendant with white feathers ($10.80) and absent-mindedly began walking around the store while overhead speakers quietly spit out songs by Vampire Weekend and Dirty Projectors — or perhaps, by Chinese and Vietnamese bands that sound almost the same but cost a lot less.

Ooh, BURN! The chain will never live down its unscrupulous knock-off reputation. Despite the frenzied activity that exists in the store at all hours, neither our shopper nor his trio of superheroine assistants found very much to impress, bow headbands aside, of course. Bolt even lobs the lowest of fashion insider insults at the place: “All this stuff looks very Whitney Port to me.”


Critical Shopper |  Forever 21: Four Floors, One Mission. Go. By Jon Caramanica
Forever 21 1540 Broadway between 45th & 46th Streets, Times Square


Guess To Get Megasized
On Fifth Avenue


Do you remember a time New York just had stores instead of giant flagship showplaces? Well, that time is long gone. We'll admit that we can still muster up some interest or at least curiosity for some of the Fifth Avenue designer brand palaces like Gucci and Armani, however bloated they may sometimes seem, but we are still not sold on the need for a two-level, 13,000 square foot Guess mega-boutique at Fifth Avenue and 47th Street. Of course, The Shophound is not a tourist, and that is really who this store will be for.

Guess04 Who, after all, are we to bitch and moan. Landlords have space they need to rent, and brands want to make themselves as appealing as possible, we just wish it could be more interesting. In fairness, the renderings in today's WWD show that the brand is going for a glitzy chrome and mirror décor that we like to think of as "Bloomingdale's in the '70s" which could be entertaining. Guess vice chairman and chief executive officer Paul Marciano promises that his mannequins will be modeled after "women who are women and not the skinny stick models I’m not really a fan of," which, these days, is still marginally transgressive. But then we admit that we have barely thought about Guess recently. Even their ad campaigns, which, believe it or not, were once highly coveted career launching campaigns for models like Claudia Schiffer, Eva Herzigova, Adriana Lima and even the infamous Anna Nicole Smith among many others, have become so banal and predictable that we barely notice them anymore.

We will, however, have to reserve final judgment until December, when the store is expected to open in time for the Holidays.

Guess to Open Manhattan Flagship (WWD)


ToyWatch To Join The Timepiece Race On Madison


Economy be damned! If there's retail one category that has exploded in Manhattan over the past few years it would have to be the luxury watch brand flagship store. No longer content to leave the business to Tourneau, Wempe and Kenjo, the past few years have seen freestanding boutiques appear from the likes of Omega and Panerai as well as corporately owned multibrand outlets like Tourbillon on Wall Street. Girard Perregaux has just appeared on Madison Avenue soon to be followed by Hublot and DeLaneau while Breitling is coming to East 57th Street. This is great news for watch fans, even if the development is counterintuitive to the continuing economic challenges facing the city.

509MadisonToyWatch The latest timepiece flagship to hit the city takes things in a different direction. TOYWATCH is known for its colorful, unapologetically plastic watches which, while still costing at least twice as much as the average Swatch, are vastly more affordable than the grande complications offered by the luxury brands. The brand, which can be found in Barneys, Bendel's and Bloomingdale's has taken 400 square feet of space at 509 Madison Avenue between 52nd and 53rd streets for its first store in the U.S. We don't have an opening date yet, but given the nature of the product, we'll look for its windows to fill with bright plastic watches around Holiday time.

Watch this space for Swatch rival (Crain's)

Milly To Fill A Void On Madison

After a two year vacancy that created a one-block mini-blight on tony Madison Avenue, contemporary sportswear brand Milly will be taking over the former Sharper Image space at no. 900, just north of 72nd Street. Popular with everyone from the Gossip Girl cast to Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who wore a Milly ensemble to the Inauguration last year, the label has been something of a sleeper in the heavily hyped contemporary market. What Milly has lacked in advertising presence, however, it has more than made up by building a broad array of happy customers, and becoming a key player at high-end department stores. Look for the store to open early next year as designer Michelle Smith launches a new handbag and accessory collection for the label.

Fashion Scoops: Milly's Madison Plan (WWD)
Coming Soon: Milly (Madison Avenue Spy)


Orchard Street's BBlessing To Close


What does it say about the Lower East Side that one of its premier retailers is abruptly closing? Influential Orchard Street menswear shop BBlessing's end-of-season clearance has turned into a Store Closing Sale as the boutique shuts its doors forever on Saturday. Is this some sort of signal that the retail revival on Orchard Street and its environs is in decline or is it just a blip?

Aside from its own brand, BBlessing also promoted labels like Surface to Air, April 77, Rag & Bone and emerging companies like Fingers Crossed, Timo Weiland and Lova.

We're not sure if it's a landlord dispute or just tough business that has sunk the boutique and its unique blend of preppy and Goth-lite, and we are not yet clear if its brand will somehow live on as a label to be sold in other stores. Hopefully, the store's young proprietors will re-emerge sometime soon, but for now, Orchard Street will have another void in the block just below Houston Street.

In the meantime, what's left of the store's stock will be on sale from 60% to 90% off, although we're not sure of their usual Saturday evening drinks and music will be so festive this week.

BBlessing 181 Orchard Street at Houston Street through 7/31
BBlessing Closing Shop at 181 Orchard Street (Bowery Boogie via Racked)


What To Know About Target
In East Harlem

Yesterday morning The Shophound took two buses to 117th Street and he FDR Drive to check out Manhattan's first, much ballyhooed Target store.

We joined a growing number of eagerly curious shoppers converging on the now fully open East River Plaza, rode the bullseye festooned escalator and entered... a Target store.

Now, we like Target as much as the next person. It's terrific for what it does, and we can report that this location is spacious, tidy, well stocked and full of exactly what you expect to find in a Target. And that's about it. The staff was courteous and helpful, as they should be, and even though a few shelves and racks had already been picked clean, workers were restocking efficiently. We could go on and on about the 19¢ bananas, which were slightly overripe and exactly the same price as far fresher ones at Trader Joe's, or the exclusive collaborations which, though appealing don't always quite live up to what you hoped they might look like. For every surprisingly impressive Liberty of London extravaganza, there seem to be three lines TargetStephenBurrows like last year's disappointing Rodarte collection. Yecch. In fairness, the Isabel & Reuben Toledo and Stephen Burrows collections created to celebrate the new store looked charming and fun, and may be worth going out of your way for if you are so inclined. The best we can say is that the store was exactly what we expected, which, in the scheme of things, is actually pretty high praise for a company with about 1,200 or so stores for whom consistency is always a high priority. At the risk of sounding like a spoilsport to everyone out there gushing about it, it's a very nice Target store, but there are no big surprises here. The most welcome development is the vast number of cash registers for checkout, a lesson everyone seems to have learned from the succession of Whole Foods that have opened in Manhattan over the past 10 years or so. The fact that this celebrated Target is tucked away on the edge of East Harlem, however, means that it is barely even in Manhattan, and like its neighbor, Costco, still very much out of the way of most of the borough's residents. In fact, we are still debating with ourself about whether or not it is more convenient to take a 45 minute ride on two buses to East Harlem, or a relatively speedy trip on the 2 or 3 train down to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn to the Target we have been visiting occasionally for the past few years —and Shophound HQ is in the West 90s. If you are in lower Manhattan, the place might as well be in the middle of the Bronx.

It's not for nothing that the place is flanked by an immense parking structure. The East River Plaza is still best accessed by your own car. Like your basic suburban strip mall, it is a collection of chains, but in its unique configuration, the stores are stacked atop one another instead of sitting side by side. If you for some inexplicable reason would want to visit Bob's Discount Furniture, you simply park on the top level for optimum convenience.

MarshallsERP It's worth noting that Sunday also marked the opening day for a new Marshalls, also on the top level. Lacking Target's advertising might, this store was promoted at its entrance by a radio station contest featuring a spinning wheel and an emcee with a bullhorn, a real delight for the ears. Still, it managed to attract its own enthusiastic crowd, and The Shophound was curious to see exactly what the distinction was between Marshalls and its sister store, the rapidly proliferating T.J.Maxx. We remain curious. Aside from a somewhat smaller store format, they seem to carry the same goods, though Marshalls appears to be somewhat more focused on women's fashion —and we are using that term very loosely here— and lacks some of the high-end wild cards that make the occasional foray into T.J.Maxx so worthwhile.

Will The Shophound be running back to East Harlem's Target anytime soon? We happily restocked our supply of aspirin, Band-Aids and other sundries while we were there, and it is indeed a pleasant place to shop, even with a weekend morning crowd, but we have no immediate plans for a return trip. It is still not exactly convenient, but should a Target appear somewhere nearby, or even downtown where we often find ourselves, then that would be a very different story.

Target at East River Plaza 517 East 117th Street at Pleasant Avenue, East Harlem

This Week's Online Sales

Set your alarms for noon as Alexander Wang returns to Gilt Groupe for a clothing an accessory sale. Wang usually sells out as fast as humanly possible, so don't make any lunch plans for Monday afternoon. For those of you who like to comparison shop, Both Gilt and Ideeli are holding Magaschoni sales. Here is just a sampling of what looks good to us amongst the online Flash 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!
Alexander Wang, Behnaz Sarafpour & Richard Chai, Diesel Black Gold, D&G Dolce & Gabbana, Noir, Tibi, Angel Sanchez & Naeem Khan, Magaschoni —join HERE
Calvin Klein Collection Shoes, William Rast, Façonnable, Generra & Gilded Age, Moschino, Rogan, Yohji Yamamoto, Fred Perry by Raf Simons, Diesel, Luciano Barbera, Hickey, Marc by Marc jacobs, —join HERE
Frette, Missoni & Richard Ginori Tabletop, Omaha Steaks, Steuben, Nikko, Pratesi, Davek, Mundial, —join HERE
Puma, Thomaspaul, MICHAEL Michael Kors, Keen, Bellino, Rich & Skinny, Tapeet by Vicini, Vincent Longo, Devon Leigh Jewelry, Portmeiron —join HERE
Report Signature, Cia.maritima, Back to School & Back to College, Lisa Currin, Repetto, Magaschoni, C&C California —join HERE
Seda France, Arcuisine, Kuhn Rikon, BonJour, Core Bamboo, Rösle, 525 America, Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams, Airedelsur, Random House —join HERE
Harajuku Lovers, Ksubi, Lava, Rachel Pally, Decades/DecadesTwo, Free People, Beehive Cheese —join HERE


L.L.Bean Signature's
One Day Flash Fall Preview

BeanbootsLet us just say that there is no way The Shophound could have gotten through the last miserable winter without our L.L.Bean boots. Forget about those rubber wellies people trudge around in, nothing has ever kept our toes drier or toastier than than a pair like these. As it prepares to launch its premium L.L.Bean Signature Fall range designed by Alex Carleton next month, the legendary Maine outfitters are teasing fans with a one-day-only preview featuring a special edition version with an unusual black full-grain Chromexcel leather upper instead of the classic tan. At $149, they are a worthy investment for anyone who lives in an area prone to giant pools of slush like our fair city. They will be available to order today July 22nd only through THIS LINK  for men and THIS LINK for women. Last season's preview shoe, a handsewn ranger moc, sold out almost instantly, so act fast.

L.L.Bean Signature Black Bean Boots available only on July 22nd for MEN and WOMEN