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Humble Chapeau Editon

Z-CRITIC-4-articleLarge This week, Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica eschews the one-store concept and takes himself and Times music critic Ben Ratliff on a tour of New York City's most prominent hat shops. It's an exhaustive effort spurred by the shopper's concerns that by putting on a hat he will turn into his father.

Theoretically, this makes Caramanica a lot older than The Shophound had guessed. Even when we were a tiny Shoppuppy, most men (including our dad) had long since stopped wearing hats around on a daily basis. Grandpas, maybe, but hats were essentially seen as relics. And yet, they have endured, supported by the elderly, the theatrical and those whose are cold in the winter. We would still consider them something of a novelty item, but Caramanica has hit way too many men's hat shops for them to still be merely a superfluous affectation, and that's not even counting the ones he had no time for.

Not surprisingly, our headgear-averse shopper is converted by a costly example of hatmaking artistry at Worth & Worth,

...our clerk began to show off the marquee hand-woven Montecristis, the most expensive of which, billed as “museum” quality, can run over $10,000. I took a middle-of-the-road one and made for the mirror. It sat beautifully on my head, wide enough to frame my face, not so tall as to be overwhelming and disruptive. I was disinclined to remove it, even if it did appear to demand white pants and sandals I would never wear. I let it go reluctantly.

Apparently not unlike jewelry, the finest hat money can buy will make a believer out of anyone, but at the end of a grueling two-day hat spree, Caramanica has yet break down and buy one. Perhaps another blizzard this Winter will put him over the edge.

Critical Shopper: So, Do I Look Like My Father in This Hat? By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)


Has The Jeans Fetish
Reached Its Apex At 3x1(Made Here)?

The Shophound was naturally looking forward to checking out 3x1 (Made Here), the new jeans store tucked away at the bottom of Mercer Street near Nike's Sportswear store, the new Agnès B., and VPL. After all, the store's mastermind is Scott Morrison, the denim guru who created Earnest Sewn and the once adored now nearly vanished Paper Denim & Cloth and was coming off a somewhat fizzled attempt to revamp the Japanese jeans brand Evisu.

Is it possible to add anything new to the already heavily saturated jeans market in New York? There's an abundance of everything here from Levi's and The Gap to increasingly banal premium boutiques like 7 For All Mankind to connoisseur destinations like Self Edge. the new 3x1 store is impressive in its quiet way. It's main angle is that the production facilities are all on the premises —behind glass, as a matter of fact. the privilege of watching workers slaving away over sewing machines and cutting tables is something of a dubious one. Though it ensures that your jeans are not secretly constructed in some offshore sweatshop, the idea that production staff also serves as a selling tool somehow does not sit well with The Shophound. We hope they get a commission of some kind. The rest of the store is pristine white, with basic denim models displayed in plexiglass cubes on the walls, and under glass tables. in a nod to the latest technology, the cash register consists of two tricked out iPod Touchs sitting neatly on a counter. Ready-to-wear product is found in tidy stacks under the tables, but the focus here is clearly on custom options.

Morrison pioneered custom orders in his Earnest Sewn shops, but here he has taken it to a new level. One wall is covered with bolts of imported selvedge denim for your perusal. Production items are made only in runs of 8 to 24 units at the most, and fewer than 25 pieces are manufactured in total on the premises on any given day. Order your own and choose from over 60 different denims and choose you own rivets and buttons, and imagine the possibilities when it comes to stitching colors. So your 3x1 (Made Here) jeans, culled from the finest, most coveted materials with the most meticulous manufacturing standards, will be a very special pair of jeans.

Except that they are jeans. And everybody has jeans. Everybody wears jeans. Everybody.

Sure, all jeans are not created equal, and The Shophound has fallen victim to the need for the perfect pair from the right brand in the right silhouette. At times, we have stalked the ones we wanted until we could afford them on the last day of the Barneys Warehouse Sale. But after more than a decade of educating ourselves about selvedge and chainstitching, and enduring an ever more sophisticated obsession with denim, we found ourselves standing in the middle of 3x1 (Made Here) mildly intrigued but hardly gripped with the feverish need to trash all our Nudies and Earnest Sewns and get ourselves a new pair of magically perfect jeans that would have easily overtaken us only a few years ago. We are officially no longer jonesing for jeans.

We get it. We are still able to fall down a rabbit hole of sartorial minutiae when it comes to all sorts of clothes. Maybe it was the day we realized that no matter how amazing the denim, all of our jeans were destined to wear through embarrasingly at the crotch, that our obsession was downgraded to passing interest. OK, that particular concern is really mostly between us and our thighs, but somehow, with 3x1 (Made Here) we have hit the denim wall. We're not putting them down. We appreciate the immense amount of work and expertise that has gone into developing the concept. We know that there are innumerable customers out there just waiting for the artisanal denim store of their dreams, but The Shophound, who is slightly embarrassed to report that our former obsession has left us with more than one pair of jeans tucked away, still waiting to be worn for the first time, is surprisingly... over it.

3x1 (Made Here) 15 Mercer Street, SoHo


A Transformer Hits UNIQLO
Along With "Save Japan!" Tees

In case you have been living under a rock, you might not know that Transformers 3 opens today, but visitors to UNIQLO's SoHo flagship are currently being greeted by what appears to be the autobot known as Bumblebee. Unfortunately, it's not a real benevolent alien robot that turns into a car, but just a giant maquette of the character, which, we believe is essentially created by computers. If you don't know what an autobot is we can't begin to explain it to you because, A) we barely understand it ourselves, and B) if you don't know what it is by the third movie, you couldn't possibly care if we did explain it. See the semi-trusty Wikipedia for more further information than you could possibly ever want.

UNIQLOsaveJapanTees Anyway, there's nothing like a giant movie character to stop customers and make them take a picture, but if it gets you in the door, the other thing you will notice is that UNIQLO has finally launched its series of celebrity designed "Save Japan!" t-shirts benefitting the tsunami/earthquake/nuclear disaster that befell Japan earlier this year.

Remember that? Things still suck over there, and some of them threaten to make Chernobyl look like agreat picnic spot, so every little bit helps. The tees are priced at a gentle $19.90, the same as the regular printed t-shirts, and UNIQLO will donate the profit of approximately 100 million yen (around $1.2 million)  from selling these t-shirts in all of its stores to the Japanese Red Cross Society's earthquake relief efforts. Celebrity designers include UNIQLO spokesmodels Charlize Theron and Orlando Bloom as well as Lady GaGa, Nicole Kidman, Victoria Beckham, Cyndi Lauper, Blake Lively, Gwyneth Paltrow and actual designers Alber Elbaz and Karl Lagerfeld.

UNIQLO 546 Broadway between Spring & Prince Streets, SoHo


Pringle of Scotland, ASH, Nooka, Isaac Mizrahi, Alice + Olivia, Geren Ford, Trovata, Bespoken, Jack Spade, J Brand, Calvin Klein, Diesel

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!

Pringle of Scotland, Ash Footwear, Nooka Watches, Erin Fetherston/Temperley London, Movado Jewelry, Fluxus, Isaac Mizrahi Accessories, Walter, Corey Lynn Calter, Alice + Olivia, Geren Ford, Madison Harding, Ali Ro —join HERE
Trovata, Generic Surplus, BED: STU, Yigal Azrouël, Fred Perry by Raf Simons, Jack Spade, Penny Stock, Bespoken, Pierrepont Hicks/LBM 1911/Cristiani —join HERE
Mirror Image, Feizy Rugs, Michael Aram, Zojirushi, Aviva Stanoff, Iittala, Paddywax Candles, Imoga, Flap Happy Swimwear, Vilebrequin Boys, Baby Nay —join HERE
J Brand, BELLE by Sigerson Morrison, Columbia Sportswear, Calvin Klein Home, Cynthia Rowley, Heys USA, Kate Spade, Honora, Corso Como, Giuseppe Zanotti, Dolce & Gabbana Swim, Ike Behar, Breil, A. Link, Vera Bradley —join HERE
Florsheim, John Varvatos, Diesel, Nautica, Tart, Kyi Kyi Hats, Rosie Pope Maternity, Adrianna Papell, Noir, Ellen Tracy, Barbara Barry —join HERE
Alice Waters' Pantry Picks, Michael Taylor Furniture, Nathan Turner, Steven Shell, teNeues, Frette, Areaware, SIGG —join HERE
Puma, 7 for All Mankind, Joan & David, MICHAEL Michael Kors, Romeo & Juliet, Enzo Angiolini, Thomas Wylde, Maui & Sons, Splendid, Jessica Simpson, Arnold Zimberg, Cuisinart, Oro Gold, Comptoir Sud Pacifique —join HERE


A New Home For Grown & Sewn

The khaki revisionists Grown & Sewn have found themselves a permanent home on Franklin Street this Spring. Originally launched at a temporary store on Duane Street last year, the artisanal trouser line has set up shop for good just a stone's throw from Steven Alan's main store. Those lovingly crafted KAX pants, falling somewhere between five pocket jeans and classic chinos, are on full display along with an expanded collection of shirts, cotton twill totes and the brand's signature leather O-ring belts. Random vintage items bound adding character while big caramel colored leather armchairs are ready for weary downtown shoppers. The brand prides itself on its domestic manufacturing, and its attention to detail is evident with every carefully chosen rivet and button.

You may have to be on alert to find the new store. Franklin Street is still just a bit off the beaten path, but it's worth going a block or two out of your way for the new brand just as it is beginning to gain traction with prominent stores like Barneys and Fred Segal in Los Angeles. 

Grown & Sewn 116 Franklin Street between West Broadway & Church Streets, Tribeca
New In Bottoms: Grown & Sewn Pushes Khaki To The Front (3/17/2010)


Southern Migration Edition

Z-CRITIC-4-popup We're a little late on this week's Critical Shopper column. Sorry we have been distracted by the barrage of men's Spring 2012 pictures from Milan and Paris. This week, Jon Caramanica makes his way to the freshly relocated Jay Kos men's boutique, now in NoLita. Essentially, the story is simple. Following a progressive trajectory, the shop that began on humble Lexington Avenue near 71st Street and then moved to Park Avenue has gotten ever more tasty, extravagant and exclusive at every stop downtown. Improbably jumping from midtown to Mott Street, it sounds like Kos has pulled out all the stops and gone giddily over the top. Now there's a kitchen, and the possibility that Jay will cook you up a snack while you ponder that $6,500 cashmere sportcoat and those $3,500 alligator loafers ($10,000 and you haven't even gotten to pants yet). We hear the store will soon be operating by appointment only, so no more casual browsing for you budget plebes looking for markdowns!

Here's what really struck us about the article, though,

I have an eBay alert for Isaia. I think Scott Disick is one of the most important style icons of the last decade. At the Opening Ceremony sample sale a couple of weeks ago, I tried my best to make a pair of brick-red trousers fit right, largely because I knew they’d go perfectly with my favorite pair of gray suede bucks.

Isaia? Great. Opening Ceremony? Of course we approve. Brick-red trousers with gray suede bucks? There's never been a better moment for that look. Scott Disick? Wait....what? Oh no, no, no, no no! We cannot approve anything Kardashian or Kardashian-adjacent —certainly not a Kardashian baby-daddy! Does he even have a real job? Never mind. We don't even want to know.

Oh, Jon, you were doing so well. Your fashion instincts seemed perfectly on-trend and just adventurous enough, but now there's this Disick thing! We can't get over it.
We're putting you on probation.

We can do that, right?

Critical Shopper: Giving Eccentricities Free Rein By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Jay Kos 293 Mott Street at East Houston Street, NoLita


Gilt Man Taps Nick Wooster
As Fashion Adviser

NickWooster-1 When Gilt Groupe debuts Park & Bond, its new full-price menswear site later this year, it will do so with a bit of extra added clout. Former men's fashion director for Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman and widely followed internet cult figure Nickelson Wooster will be serving as men's fashion adviser for Gilt's menswear efforts. He has begun working for the fast-growing internet starting with the Spring 2012 men's shows just finished in Italy and now underway in Paris. Wooster likens his role to a fashion director position, and promises to broaden the men's brands featured on Gilt's sites. “Gilt is the perfect marriage for me,” he tells WWD. “Men’s wear is moving in a different direction, and it’s all based on what’s happening on the Web. I’ve never seen so much information and interest [in men’s wear] from such disparate groups of people as I’ve seen on the blogs, Tumblr and Twitter. They’re young, which is heartening.”

Since this is described as a "consulting" role, it presumably will allow Wooster to pursue other projects as well, such as assisting Thom Browne in selling his new collection, giving his growing fan base even more to follow online.

Memo Pad: Nick's Next Act (WWD)


Fall To Be The Final Season For
UNIQLO & Jil Sander's +J

Sanders It's sad news today for Jil Sander and UNIQLO fans. WWD reports that the German designer and the Japanese mega-chain have agreed to go their separate ways after this Fall's +J collection. According to a company release, "Ms. Sander and [Uniqlo] agreed that they had fully explored the possibilities of their creative collaboration and accomplished what they had set out to do."

So basically, they just got sick of each other.
It happens. Perhaps the designer tired of working under a strict price structure and longed for Italian cashmere, or maybe the chain wearied of explaining to Sander why she couldn't work with $50 per yard fabrics. Ultimately, when two entities who famously like things the way they like them get together, friction is bound to happen at some point. Or maybe Sander, who came out of non-compete enforced retirement to work with Uniqlo, decided that she kind of liked not working too much after all. Maybe she just got sick of flying to Tokyo.

The Shophound had been looking forward to what we were expecting would be a substantial +J presentation when the chain's immense Fifth Avenue flagship opens this Fall, especially after it was announced last year that the collection would be ongoing label for Uniqlo. Apparently, though Sander was intended to oversee all of Uniqlo's men's and women's apparel lines, she really only focused on her own collection, which experienced a noticeable price jump in the most recent season that threatened to push it further out of the chain's mass market category.

At any rate, all good things must come to an end, and even though we couldn't fit into half the items in the slender-cut collection, we still looked forward to each new +J delivery. We'll be saving up for the final collection hitting stores this Fall. The good news is that by the time it gets released, there will be two, possibly three Uniqlos in New York, so the crowds will hopefully be lighter on those busy first days.

Jil Sander, Uniqlo Part Ways (WWD)