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A Sample Sale Bonanza

Racked-sample The Shophound hasn't been covering Sample Sales particularly closely lately because there are so many places offering that information, bit it's definitely worth noting that there is a particular abundance of worthwhile sales this week including highly anticipated seasonal events from Paul Smith, Vivienne Tam, Montblanc, Slane and Aeffe, which includes Jean-Paul Gaultier, Moschino and Alberta Ferretti. It makes any person wonder if anyone ever needs to shop retail, but the fact is, some people have the patience and time for such events, and some simply don't.

Luckily, our friends at Racked have been tirelessly following such events, and we strongly urge you to click on through for a full schedule of events through Sunday. Kudos to anyone who makes it to more than a one or two of these things.

There Are 20 Sample Sales Between Now and Sunday (Racked)


John Bartlett Debuts His Latest Team-Up with Bon-Ton

BartlettBonTon3Click all images for a larger view in a new window

There may be no more determined designer than John Bartlett. After an effort to bring sophistication to moderately priced menswear fizzled as the Claiborne brands he was designing was licensed to JCPenney, the designer turned around and within months signed an agreement with The Bon-Ton Stores for an even wider ranging line that will debut this Fall in all of the company's 264 locations. BartlettBonTon1 Last night, Bartlett unveiled his latest effort at the Ace Hotel to admiring industry insiders. He is actually heading up two labels, John Bartlett Statements furnishings and suit separates and John Bartlett Consensus sportswear which will bear the designer's familiar circular logo featuring the designer's late but much loved three-legged dog, Tiny Tim. In keeping with his cruelty-free ethos, Bartlett eschewed animal skins for the apparel lines, and is including vegan leather jackets which, at $200, are the most expensive items in the collection. The dedicated pet owner is even introducing a line of pet accessories and gifts for the chain. The rest of the sportswear will retail for well under $100, and while the three groups, Updated Ivy, G.I. Joe College and Refined Lumberjack lean to the classic, Bartlett has worked hard to trim down and update the silhouettes while keeping the fit realistic for the chain's customers to appealing effect.

BartlettBonTon2 Last night at the Ace's downstairs lounge, the ever genial Bartlett personally greeted guests and walked The Shophound through the collection which was being presented on 20 typically expertly cast models (oh, how we hope he returns to the runways soon). It all looked smart and appealing and exceedingly well priced. New Yorkers may not be terribly familiar with Bon-Ton and its stable of department store nameplates which also includes Carson Pirie Scott, Younker's, Boston Store, Elder-Beerman, Bergner's and Herberger's. While the Pennsylvania based chain operates in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, the closest ones to the city are about 50 miles away in Newburgh, New York or Brick, New Jersey. We haven't been able to ascertain whether or not Bartlett will be selling any parts of the lines in his own West Village boutique, but we hope we provincial Manhattanites will get a chance to buy the line soon without going too far out of our way.

Bon-Ton Launching Pair of Private Brands (WWD)


California Eye-Roll Edition

Z-CRITIC-B-popup Newbie Critical Shopper Alexandra Jacobs cuts SoHo's new James Perse boutique little slack in this week's Thursday Styles. Perse, the scion of an extravagant Los Angeles retailer is well known by New Yorkers for his minimalistic line of deceptively simple t-shirts and sportswear that Jacobs calls "an ongoing ritual cleansing of this luxury retail heritage, appropriate for a range of activities that might include napping, practicing yoga, attending an AA meeting or drinking green tea out of oversize porcelain cups on the patio while contemplating a misty horizon."

Jacobs main problem, however, seems to be that everything is so long, (a problem peculiar to the women's line, apparently), so her quibbles are more fit-based than East coast-West coast culture clash. Still, the eye-rolling sales staff is characterized as beach-bum spacey rather than New York haughty.

Ultimately, we get the sense that our shopper could take or leave Perse's pricey tees and other Ashram Chic. Despite the store's serene trappings, her verdict is that the store is news only to SoHo's endless stream of tourists, who, sadly, still seem more intersted in the Kardashian Sisters' fake souvenir store a few blocks away.

Critical Shopper: Low Tide and Lower Ambitions By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
James Perse 60 Mercer Street at Broome Street, SoHo


A Reborn Céline
To Open On Madison This Fall

Céline officially announced its upcoming Madison Avenue store in today's WWD, but they were scooped on Friday when our friends at Racked posted photos of the newly installed signage in the windows at 870 Madison Avenue. The 4,500 square foot space, which previously housed a temporary Dior store and, before that, Gianfranco Ferré's boutique, will be completely redesigned by Peter Marino to reflect a new store concept inspired by new creative director Phoebe Philo.

In fact, the new store, which will open this Fall along with an even bigger counterpart in Paris, is part of a slow-burning relaunch of Céline, and an attempt to push it from the lower, money-losing range of parent company LVMH's stable of luxury brands to the middle or even top tier. If that sounds familiar, it may be because about a decade or so ago Céline was revamped by Michael Kors to much commercial success, but lost its footing when he left to focus on his own label and was replaced in quick succession by the less well received Roberto Menichetti and Ivana Omazic. When Philo's stripped down vision for Céline gained immediate traction, the company took the seemingly counter-intuitive action of closing most of the brand's boutiques while the company's wholesale accounts increased dramatically, returning the label to stores like Bergdorf's and Barneys. The business is now poised to expand once again as if it were a whole new brand. The new, 2-level Céline boutique will in fact be larger than its previous Madison Avenue home which, ironically, is now a Michael Kors lifestyle shop.

The new store on the corner of 71st Street will sit at the center of a hub of international megabrands with neighbors including Gucci, Tom Ford, Prada, Cartier, Phoebe Philo's former home, Chloé and, of course, Ralph Lauren's bigger-than-ever compound of flagships all within a block of the boutique. With neighbors like those, its pretty clear what kind of performance LVMH expects of Céline. Expect a publicity blitz this Fall when the store opens.

Celine Gets Set for Rapid Rise (WWD)
Signs of Céline Appear on Madison Avenue


Tibi, Winter Kate, Noir, Jack Spade, Giorgio Armani, Billykirk, Tom Ford, Diesel, John Hardy, Betsey Johnson, Vivienne Tam, Ever

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!

Tibi, Winter Kate, Hype/Magnes Sisters, Noir Jewelry, Kiki de Montparnasse, Stuart Weitzman, Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, Swarovski Jewelry —join HERE
Incotex, Just A Cheap Shirt, Chronicles of Never, Kai-Aakmann, Jack Spade, Giorgio Armani Sunglasses, Esquivel, Billykirk, Ike Behar, Ever —join HERE
nuLOOM, Verilux, Eccolo Frames, Rosanna Inc., Jeffrey Delvy, Normann Copenhagen, Abbeville Press,  Bebe Bella, Boikido Toys, Abrams Books for Young Readers, Kroom, Feather Baby, Superga —join HERE
Tom Ford Sunglasses, Pikolinos, Thomas Dean, Tea Forte, Hobo International, Johnston & Murphy, Diesel, Mandarina Duck, Priscilla of Boston, American Girl, John Hardy, Badgley Mischka, Børn, Safavieh, Tivoli Audio —join HERE
Seiko, Betsey Johnson, Buffalo, Fila, Isda & Co., Etienne Aigner, VIVIENNE Vivienne Tam, Paco Gil, Hype, Circulon, Tusk, Alex Woo Jewelry, Steve Madden —join HERE
Easter Blowout Sale, Miyabi Knives, Down Inc., Errebiacasa Linens, Judy Ross Pillows, Elson & Co. Rugs, Currey & Co., Ferguson Copeland Fabrics, Sabre Flatware, Kirsch & Co., Les Jours Linens, Belle Mead Signature, Tuleh & Farhad Rugs, Picnic at Ascot, Evergreen, Simon & Schuster, Kannoa Outdoor Furniture —join HERE
7 For All Mankind, Kenneth Cole, Radiance Pearl, Vincent Longo, Ace Hotel NY, Andrew Marc, Ella Moss, Joie, Kevyn Aucoin, Kenneth Jay Lane, Cockpit, Fila, Jessica Simpson —join HERE


Eddie Bauer Revamps And Upgrades
for Fall 2011

EddieBauerMensDenimClick all images for a larger view in a new window

Last week, we told you that the eminent American outfitter Eddie Bauer was looking to return to Manhattan to show off its updated store concept, and so this week The Shophound made our way to Milk Studios to get a closer look at exactly what to expect from them.

The last time The Shophound was in an Eddie Bauer store was when the company was stuck in a bland moment, focused on middle of the road sportswear that could mostly be described as sturdy but style deficient. For much of the beginning of this century, the company was struggling with financial obstacles and lack of direction, but since then, the 91-year-old Seattle based company has been rescued by Golden Gate Capital which bought it nearly two years ago and has set about installing new management whose hard work is just beginning to bear fruit. The new company logo, which is actually based on its original logo, signals that this Fall will mark something of a relaunch for the brand's new point of view. It's certainly not a revolutionary strategy these days for a long-standing brand to delve into its archives for inspiration, especially when your brand's namesake invented that staple of the modern wardrobe, the down-filled jacket in 1936. That, however, doesn't mean that this wasn't the best strategy for the new design team to follow, and what we saw this week looked especially promising.

EddieBauerNigelCabourne Eddie Bauer has switched its focus from the mall to the mountains, and has looked first to outerwear to revive its fortunes. No longer pushing generic puffer jackets, we saw all manner of hi-tech coats from thin, featherweight "MicroTherm" down filled layering pieces in jewel tones to newly updated vintage-style parkas. At the center of this focus was the first offering of a collaboration with British designer Nigel Cabourn (at right) which will be offered in select Eddie Bauer stores. New Yorkers, however, will be reportedly be able to find it at Barneys and Opening Ceremony, which should give you an idea of where the new design team's sensibilities lie. Cabourn has added his rugged touch to vintage archive Bauer parkas and vests that will sell for up to $1,500 for the explorer with unlimited resources.

EddieBauerModel1 Aside from outerwear, the design team has also upgraded the men's and women's sportswear offerings, and though it hasn't been redesigned so much as to totally alienate current customers, A new flair is evident with exclusive Pendleton fabrics and custom colored denims. The women's line now includes a well priced jewelry collection as well as shoes and special items like distressed jeans inspired by Christine "Stine" Bauer, the original Eddie's wife. The men's line is marked by chunky handknits and rugged shirts in vibrant plaids that will fit right in with the continuing menswear fascination with authentic workwear. That rambunctious black Labrador retriever at left is Eddie, we were told, named after the company's founder. He was being led around by veteran model Ed McMahon who must have been roasting in two shirts, a down vest and a chunky handknit sweater, but still made it look appealing.

In addition to all the clothes, the company is also reviving and expanding its home division, which will include furniture made from repurposed wood accompanied by official documentation of the materials (below). Bedding and home accessories included more exclusive Pendleton blankets and a chambray quilt we were ready to take home with us. Children's Outerwear featuring cute min-versions of the new down jackets will also be reintroduced for fall, offering another lucrative avenue for the brand.

We left Milk Studios with lots of press materials and a gauzy wool scarf from the new collection that almost made us regret the warmer weather (almost). While we don't expect that New York City will have a full Eddie Bauer store open by this Fall, we know they're looking for space, and we wouldn't be surprised to see a new store here sooner rather than later. Now that we have seen what's in the works, we can tell that it will be something worth looking forward to.

Returning Revamp: Eddie Bauer On The Hunt For A New Manhattan Home


UNIQLO Tones Down Designers Invitation Launch With Costello Tagliapietra

Yesterday marked the return of Costello Tagliapietra to UNIQLO's Designers Invitation program after last year's capsule collection for the retailer that was such a sellout that a rare re-order production was ordered. This time around, the dresses are no less cleverly designed, but the general fanfare was much less evident in the store. This seems to fit in with the store's newly reconceived PR strategy which appears to rely less on splashy launches. Last year, press were invited to an early morning preview to meet the designers and sip champagne as eager customers waited outside, while this year, there was not even the traditional notice posted on the windows notifying customers. The chain's exclusive Jil Sander designed +J collection launches are now promoted with less fanfare as well. The private VIP shopping previews of previous seasons now seem to be a thing of the past as the line transitions from a special event capsule collection to a regular component of the chain's merchandise. Perhaps the company is saving up its PR capital for a major promotional push this Fall when it will open two new flagship-sized stores in New York. As for the dresses, they are a bit simpler this year, limited to cotton jersey but appropriately priced at $29.90 each. Customers who found them seemed happy as ever to load their arms with goods. For those of you keeping track, Charlotte Ronson's collection will appear on May 5th, and Vena Cava's is scheduled for the 12th, so mark your calendars.

The lack of promotion should not suggest that there was nothing going on at UNIQLO yesterday afternoon. Most of the store's visual displays were given over to a huge new delivery of the chain's popular UT line of printed t-shirts. There are truckloads of new designs including plenty of Disney, manga and animé designs, and a special promotion in which includes a free DVD with every t-shirt featuring the popular manga Naruto (you'll either know what that means and be excited or you won't).

On the +J front, there is currently a special promotional discount on the entire Spring collection offering as much as a third off regular prices. See below for details.

Mens+jPromotion Womens+jPromotion


Click all images for a larger view in a new window


One More Try Edition

Z-CRITIC-B-popup Designer Agnès B. is mounting a grand return to SoHo, and Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica is not having it. In today's Thursday Styles, he takes her to task for matter of taste and quality and essentially makes the case that everybody's favorite entry-level French fashion designer of the '80s and '90s has since been supplanted by A.P.C., Isabel Marant and even Uniqlo. He even points to the designer's recent collaboration with Opening Ceremony as superior to her own line. The main problem, it seems, is that in the new Agnès B. boutique on Howard Street, Agnès Troublé (the designer's real name) has fallen victim to the apparel-store-as-art-gallery concept that comes off as an uneasy mix of what Caramanica finds to be questionable art on the walls that then reappears on t-shirts.

The art hangs on every wall and, in only one real case, on a hanger. Near the rear of the store was a black blazer with a noisy white and pink pattern that was part Aztec, part Space Invaders ($645). It would have been the perfect wardrobe for an appearance on “TV Party.”

That's "Glenn O'Brien's TV Party", a semi-obscure 1980s New York Public Access cable show for all of you under the age of 40. Caramanica really lets the arcane references fly this week with a shout out to Angela Chase, Claire Danes' character on the somewhat less obscure '90s cult series "My So-Called Life". Perhaps they have been chosen specifically to reflect Agnès B.'s last moment in the sun, but if you want to confirm that with the writer, you'll probably find him shopping a few blocks away at A.P.C.

Critical Shopper: A Bid to Recapture the Sleight of Hand By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Agnès B 50 Howard Street between Mercer Street & Broadway, SoHo