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Levi's Tells Us Its Story For Fall

LevisFW-11-01Click all images for a larger view in a new window

We have been looking forward to the Levi's preview events because they get more entertaining every season. This time around, the legendary denim brand returned to the airy site of its open Photo Studio project on Wooster Street. Instead of having models lined up on a platform. this time they set up several LevisFW-11-04 vignettes around the lofty space to illustrate the label's various product lines. The babes in the convertible above are showing off Levi's Curve ID. The hot guy in the bathtub is showing off the brand's environmentally conscious Water<Less program to reduce water consumption in its manufacturing process along with his well defined abs, and the heavy lidded couple on the bed surrounded by empty Champagne bottles are representing, uh ... the end of a drunken evening/early morning. So it's not all about product lines, but we also got a glimpse of a continuing collaboration with Heritage brand Filson and more items pointedly made in the U.S., which represents an encouraging sign for Levi's return to more domestic manufacturing.

The line continues to mine Levi's considerable heritage and still has a bit of funky seventies and eighties vibe, but has added a more contemporary edge that looks great. In the middle of all this was a busy open bar, hot hors d'ouevres and plenty of homemade cheese twists. Instead of a live band, this season Levi's opted for Teen Vogue's Style Features Editor Andrew Bevan who did a very respectable job DJing along with another appearance from those mysterious, silent appearance appraisers, The Bumbys.

More pictures after the jump


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Levi's Tells Us Its Story For Fall" »


Unfortunate, Unexpected
Sign-Off Edition

Z-CRITIC-A-articleLarge This week's Thursday Styles takes Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson to NoHo's United Nude shoe store where we learn, among other things that there are two Rem Koolhaases. One is the famous Dutch Architect, and the other one is his nephew, Rem D. Koolhaas, the other Dutch Architect. We're still trying to wrap our head around that bit of promotional misdirection, but, in truth, we can't be bothered too much with the dueling Koolhaases and their funky shoes because it turns out that this is officially Cintra Wilson's last Critical Shopper column!

Fans will remember that a while back, La Cintra was unceremoniously excused from her Critical Shopper duties as the New York Times pared away freelance writers like Wilson in favor of staff writers as a cost-cutting measure. Veteran Times style scribe Ruth La Ferla took over the ladies' portion of the column, but after substantial public outcry and a Facebook petition, better judgement prevailed. Wilson was restored to her post a few months later, and all was right again with the Thursday Styles —for a while, anyway.

For those who never quite got her point of view, the departing writer finally spells it out for everyone this week:

It may sometimes seem that my critical approach to retail fashion has been to go in like Laurence Olivier in “Marathon Man” with a tray of power tools intent on performing involuntary dental surgery on designers while dementedly screaming, “Is it safe?!”
But I have been looking for generosity of vision. I ask clothes questions, like: Who are you for? What do you say about the person who wears you? Are you functional? Have you discovered an empowering, liberating new silhouette — like Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent so nobly did in their days — that calls forth strengths never before realized in the feminine character? Or are you bombing women back to the Goldwater era? Does this line help my life or hinder it? In short: Is it safe!?

United Nude, isn't really knocking her out, but, again this is beside the point as she anounces her departure in the next paragraph with understated grace, and this time, it sounds final:

This will be my last dispatch as your Critical Shopper. This column has been a singular joy and privilege to write, and I will miss your readership.

Why this is happening, we don't know. Perhaps she was once again let go, or maybe she simply felt that it was time to direct her rapier wit in a new direction, which (hopefully) would be her prerogative. The Shophound will miss her, it almost goes without saying, and our occasional personal correspondence with her about the column has been a highlight for us. We just love us some Cintra Wilson, and we look forward to seeing where her byline appears next.

The New York Times now has some big but very chic shoes to fill —probably a pair of sleek and sexy stiletto pumps with a pointy toe that hides a tiny but lethal blade that will pop out if you don't pass muster and the rest of us are very lucky.

Critical Shopper: A Safe Walk in the Dark By Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
United Nude 25 Bond Street (between Lafayette Street and the Bowery)


Alexander Wang Announces
A New Men's Collection For Fall

We know that everyone just loves Alexander Wang to death. We wouldn't begrudge him his stunning success, and yet we can't help admitting to the sneaking suspicion that hidden away in a sinister file cabinet somewhere is a contract with his name signed on it in blood. After all, the young designer phenom has gotten an award from GQ and a CFDA nomination for being the best new menswear designer without even making pants!

To his credit (or possibly thanks to the work of the Dark Lord) the designer has announced that he will make up for that shortcoming by producing a capsule collection of menswear under his main collection label for Fall 2011. It will be sold at his own store as well as at selected retailers including Barneys New York and the usual suspects around the world like Colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Joyce in Hong Kong.

Previously, the designer's menswear has been limited to his less expensive T by Alexander Wang line and, in fairness, there is one pair of sweatpants hanging in his Grand Street boutique at this moment, though the offerings are mostly limited to jersey tops, knitwear and a few shirts and leather pieces. The upcoming 14-style collection will include outerwear, knitwear and, yes, pants. Next Spring will bring a bigger, more complete assortment and what is sure to cause a stampede, accessories and shoes.

The designer tells Style.com, “It’s about the right timing, the right opportunity, then one thing leads to another,” and admits that all the attention and awards his limited men's offerings felt like a strong nudge from the industry in general to offer something more subtantial for men.

We'll give him credit for understatement

Exclusive: Alexander Wang To Debut Collection Menswear (StyleFile/Style.com)


Abercrombie's Push-Up Bikini For Girls Hits The Outraged Airwaves

It's been a while since Abercrombie & Fitch has been able to whip up a bona fide scandal. From nudity in the A&F Quarterly to those racist t-shirts (remember them?) the chain has always been able to raise someone's hackles, and the latest was all over the morning TV shows today: a padded bikini top for girls starting at age 7.

It hardly seems worth joining in the outrage over such a product at this point. The inappropriateness of it would seem to be staggeringly obvious, and yet thoughtful judgement has never appeared to be an important part of Abercrombie's merchandising decision-making process. In the past the chain has generally caved to the public's ire. The Quarterly, despite a brief reappearance last year, was discontinued, and those "humorous" Chinese-themed t-shirts were pulled from the shelves. In this case, however, they seem to be defiant as the Ashley Push-Up bikini top has merely been retitled a "triangle" top, and put on sale. Of course, as any swimsuit shopper knows, a triangle usually refers to an unstructured top with no support —a simple triangle of fabric— and this creepy little item is somewhat more than that. Expect this story to continue for a day or two, and dominate the 5 PM newscasts before it disappears into the vague memory of scandals past.

Abercrombie gets pushback over ‘push-up’ kiddie bikini (Today Show)
Abercrombie criticized for selling push-up tops to little girls (CNN)



Missoni, Havianas, ABC Carpet & Home, Helmut Lang, Birkenstock, Fendi, Nambé

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Happy clicking!

Rachel Roy, M Missoni, Havaianas, Magaschoni, Elie Tahari, Nina Ricci/Burberry Prorsum Accessories, Vix Swimwear, Matthew Wiliamson/Temperley London, L.A.M.B. Handbags & Shoes —join HERE
Harry's of London, Just Cavalli, J. Lindeberg, Conklin Pens, Billy Reid, Edun, Baldwin, Jean-Michel Cazabat, N.D.C., Tateossian —join HERE
Gail DeLoach, Jay Strongwater, Miyabi Collection Knives, ABC Carpet & Home, The Phillips Collection, Fino Lino, Phil & Ted's Strollers, Country Baby Clothing Co., Timi & Leslie Diaper Bags & Strollers —join HERE
Helmut Lang, Bruno Magli, Janice Girardi, Lafayette 148, Hilary Radley, Superga, Edun, Simone Péréle, The Sharper Image, Birkenstock, Sue Wong, Nambé, Heys Luggage & Watches, Joe's, Ike Behar, Reebok, Cinzia Rocca —join HERE
Melissa, Michael Stars, Escada, Arche, Fendi, Bissell, Charles Davis, Kenneth Cole, Amanda Charles, Nicole Miller, Perry Ellis, Erwin Pearl, Kitchen Aid, Luigi Bormioli, Bloch, Desigual, Corso Como —join HERE
Spiegelau, Julia Knight, Melissa & Doug, George Smith, Corbell & Co. Silver, Safavieh, Lunares, Gibbs Smith  —join HERE
Red Ginger Cosmetics, TAG Denim, Ellen Tracy, Judith Leiber, Perry Ellis, Madame Alexander —join HERE


Big Words For Streetwear Edition

Z-CRITIC-D-popup Today's Critical Shopper, Jon Caramanica, takes on two streetwear stores that seem to have little to do with each other aside from being streetwear stores. The Hundreds is based in California and now has an outpost on tony Grand Street not far from the new Alexander Wang showplace, and Mishka (which is usually written in cyrillic type as Мишка) is in Williamsburg, which is apparently still going strong as the center of the city's youth culture for at least a few more minutes. Caramanica describes the store's slickly rendered presences thusly:

They’re two solutions to the same problem, the collision of hip-hop fashion, skateboarding gear and work wear that’s generally called street wear. It’s a neat trick of deracination, or post-racination. As rap music seeps more and more into the fabric of pop culture, its accouterments become more familiar. In these lines, lessons drawn from the 1990s explosion of brands like Phat Farm, Fubu, even Karl Kani are mixed with the lessons drawn from the ’90s appropriation of Polo and Tommy Hilfiger. The results are tough but relatable, a style that connotes insiderdom while excluding no one.

So, apparently, deracination means:

  1. To pull out by the roots; uproot.
  2. To displace from one's native or accustomed environment.

according to the American Heritage Dictionary via the New York Times' handy onscreen dictionary function. We hope this service remains available after the Times enacts its much talked about paywall next week in case we run across another word like deracination. For post-racination, sadly, there were no results. We wish we could use the function for the entire paragraph above, but it only seems to work on individual words. Pity.

Though we hear a lot of description of the respective brand's logos, we aren't feeling to intrigued by this week's column. Perhaps it's because The Shophound is old enough to remember "Rapper's Delight" and therefore too old to attempt to masquerade as a teenage skater boy. There will be no pixelated camouflage baseball hats with flat visors and bloody eyeball embroidery for us no matter how much it might express our state of mind at the moment. It would just be embarrassing for all involved.

Critical Shopper: Two Riffs on Street Wear Gone Fusion by Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
The Hundreds 96 Grand Street (between Greene and Mercer Streets)
Мишка 350 Broadway (near Keap Street), Williamsburg

Barneys Taps Carine Roitfeld For Fall

Carrine There's no end to the surprises Barneys New York has for us these days. The latest in a series of striking moves is the recruitment of recently departed French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld as Guest Editor and Stylist for the Fall 2011 season.

Yes, we know what you are thinking: "Wait, Barneys isn't a magazine. What do they need an editor for?"

Roitfeld will be responsible for styling the store's Fall ad campaign to be photographed by Mario Sorrenti as well as catalogues and mailers from the store. She will be working in conjunction with Barneys' new Creative Director, Dennis Freedman. In addition, she will also be contributing to the store's Madison Avenue windows beginning in September. Roitfeld will also be working with Sorrenti on a short film as well as acting as a general sort of muse for the store. Roitfeld tells WWD, (read with heavy French accent) “For me, Barneys has always been the biggest name in luxury department stores, so to be able to participate in this project with them, and be visible during the next fashion week in New York, is my dream come true.”

Of course, many of Roitfeld's new responsibilities would typically be handled by the store's Creative Director and Fashion Director. Both Freedman and Amanda Brooks have only recently been named to those posts respectively. One has to wonder if having a celebrated editor brought in just as they are beginning to recraft the store's image might seem like a lot of cooks in that kitchen, although if things don't go well, they can always blame it on Carine the French interloper. Either way, this news only increases the anticipation for the results of the new team's work.

Barneys New York Teams With Carine Roitfeld (WWD)


FAO Schwarz May Have To Move

The world's oldest toy store, FAO Schwarz, may have to leave its neighborhood of 80 years if it cannot extend its current lease which expires next year. Its current lease expires in 2012, but it is negotiating to exercise an option to extend it for five years at fair market value. The problem is, after whopping deals for Fifth Avenue flagships by Zara and Uniqlo, "fair market value" has increased dramatically. While the 60,000 square foot store has been at the GM Building since 1986, its previous location since 1931 was across 58th street in the space currently occupied by Bergdorf Goodman's Men's Store. According to Crain's, the store's current landlord, Boston Properties, paid a record price for the building in 2008, and has made it known that it would prefer a lucrative tenant. It is said to be looking to score the kind of huge multimillion dollar lease deal that Zara and Uniqlo recently made for similarly large retail spaces at 666 Fifth Avenue.

FAO Schwarz has been owned since 2009 by Toys "R" Us which pared the once sprawling chain back down to the single store, but maintained its image as a specialty toy store with unique items, meant to be seen in a class by itself with unique in-store shops and unusual limited edition items. It remains a tourist magnet, especially during the Holiday Season. Toys "R" Us, however, is not seen as likely to invest the kind of resources in a Fifth Avenue lease that an international fast fashion chain, for example, could.

Even if FAO Schwarz can negotiate an extension, the question is, where would it ultimately move? It has spent 80 years in a prime location among prime locations nestled among Bergdorf's and the Plaza Hotel, and there are few, if any spaces on Fifth Avenue between Saks and Central Park that could accommodate the store, let alone one it could afford. Even a move to Madison Avenue could be seen as something of a comedown. Crain's notes that Times Square, the tourist hub, would put it in competition with the only other Toys "R" Us location in Manhattan, it's giant flagship store. Will the iconic, nearly 150-year-old brand finally fold over real estate, or is it enough of a draw for customers to survive in a less exclusive location? Stay tuned.

FAO Schwarz fights to extend GM lease (Crain's)


Lacoste + Malandrino
To Debut Next Month

LacosteXmalandrino It's nearly impossible to keep track of these things anymore, but as far as we can tell, Lacoste has kept the whole designer collaboration thing at arms length. There have been a few forays into streetwear with brands like Alife, and a small program with Junya Watanabe, but next month will see a higher profile partnership when Lacoste + Malandrino debuts in the stores of both participants.

Don't think of this as Catherine Malandrino's entry into tenniswear, but more like Lacoste pushing for a higher fashion profile. Since its chief designer, Christophe Lemaire decamped to Hermès, the brand has discontinued its splashy runway show and new designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista has thus far declined to reinstate it. It's a little surprising that the brand would choose to enter into a high profile partnership with a women's designer before its own creative director has had much of a chance to make his own statement, but who are we to worry about what goes on behind the scenes?

What we can tell you is that the collaboration is set to go for four seasons, and the 12-piece spring collection wholesales for $145 to $750, meaning that the retail prices will be a few steps higher than your typical Lacoste fare. Malandrino tells WWD, "My most important role with Lacoste is to open the door to the feminine world. Now I am relaying effortless, chic, everyday clothes that you don’t have to think about. All of the silhouettes can be eye-catching, whether it is a miniskirt or high-waisted pants.”

Lacoste executives were so impressed with Malandrino that they allowed her to play with the brand's highly protected crocodile logo, adding a second figure to make a pair of kissing caimans, immediately differentiating her collection from the regular lines. Lacoste reportedly has another similar collaboration in the works to be revealed in the coming months. Apparently, the company is relying on flashier tactics to increase its profile instead of relying on its core product lines. Can Lacoste use them to make the leap from luxury active sportswear label to fully fledged fashion brand à la Burberry? We'll be watching to see.

Lacoste Unveils Catherine Malandrino Collection (WWD)