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Magnolia Bakery Invades Bloomingdale's

We suppose that it makes a strange sort of sense that cupcakes are now being sold under the same roof as Spanx.

Magnolia Bakery opened an outpost next to the Third Avenue entrance at Bloomingdale's (which has also acquired a shiny new canopy to the street). It is anly half a block away from Dylan's Candy bar, though we can't imagine that it could offer too much competition to that giant candy shrine. We have remarked a few times that macarons are the new cupcakes, which would have suggested that cupcake-centric bakeries should be on the decline, but sadly, this is not the case. It seems that macarons are the new cupcakes only for people who understand that they are different from macaroons that come in a tin from Manischewitz on Passover. For everyone else, cupcakes are still all the rage, and now they are invading our department stores.

On the one hand, The Shophound really supports and appreciates baked goods of all kinds, but on the other, we don't want to be faced with them at every turn. When we stopped by Bloomingdale's this week, it seemed like the Magnolia staff had not fully acclimated to their responsibilities, and by that we mean that we stood in front of the register for an awfully long time before anyone figured out that they should probably ring up our bran muffin (Yes, bran muffin. We do have some self control). Hopefully, they will get it together by this weekend, when Third Avenue's shopping crowds should be in full effect.

Honestly, we'll admit that a cupcake counter fits in fairly well with Bloomingdale's unique populist/luxury sensibility, so even we can't exactly fault management for installing the shop, but we just cant help thinking that we have long passed the point of "enough already with the cupcakes".

Magnolia Bakery at Bloomingdale's 1000 Third Avenue between 59th & 60th Streets, Upper East Side
Cupcakes Carry On: Magnolia Bakery Takes Root In Bloomingdale's (7.14.2011)


Great White North Edition

29CRITIC2-popup Today's Critical Shopper in The New York Times finally makes her way to Canadian-based chain Aritzia, which opened last Spring. Alexandra Jacobs doesn't find the their merchandise nearly as compelling as their uncommonly attentive staff and dressing rooms which are frustratingly mirror-free, forcing customers out into a communal fitting area to appraise their choices:

“Key-oot,” was the most common refrain bouncing around this — well, this hall of mirrors.

The plentiful personnel of Aritzia, however, were as sweet as maple toffee, to each other as well as their clientele. “Honey!” they could be heard cooing. “What do you need help with, Malia? ... Corinne, do you mind helping Malia out? ...”

So, even if you are not knocked out by the store's inconsistent "something for everyone" fashion direction (one house label, Wilfred, is described as "sort of a mirror-world Banana Republic". Yikes), the collective warmth of the staff will likely nudge you into a dressing room anyway, but Ms. Jacobs seems to think that in the midst of H&M, Zara and Uniqlo, not to mention Scoop, Bloomingdale's and Intermix, Aritzia seems to be coasting on its enviable location and effusive service rather than offering any irresistible must-haves.

Critical Shopper | Aritzia - Mitten Alert: Canadians Come to SoHo By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
Aritzia 524 Broadway at Spring Stret, SoHo

Now A Flea Market Is Happening At...
Bergdorf Goodman?

5F Flea It really has become a full time job to keep track of the various Flea Markets around the city. There are the longtime favorites in Manhattan, the hipper, cooler ones in Brooklyn, and even the artisanal-and-heritage-brand-centric Pop-Up Flea, which we hear is returning this Fall at a date to be announced.

It was inevitable that someone more established would latch on to the idea, and this Sunday, Bergdorf Goodman will host the "5F Flea" on its fifth floor from 1 to 4 PM. The event will feature vintage tees from What Goes Around Comes Around and House of the Gods, vintage eyewear from Oliver Peoples, personal engraving from Emily & Ashley, pendants and palm readings from clairvoyant jewelry designer Amy Zerner as well as special appearances from designers Amy Smilovic of Tibi and Ramy Sharp of Ramy Brook.

We're not really sure that it will replicate the experience of the city's more eclectic, exciting flea markets, but you could do a lot worse than shopping Bergdorf's fifth floor on any day. While we're sure that some hipsters will bemoan the way the Fifth Avenue luxury store has co-opted the whole flea market concept, you could probably make a good argument that New Yorkers have co-opted flea markets to the point that some of them are now as expensive as shopping at Bergdorf's.

5F Flea at Bergdorf Goodman, Sunday October 2, 1 PM - 4 PM, 754 Fifth Avenue between 57th & 58th Street, Midtown


Marni Is Closing The Gap On Gansevoort

Yesterday we noted that the location Marni has chosen for its third New York store had been uniquely modified by its original tenant Yohji Yamamoto to separate the selling floor from the back office and stockrooms in a striking but likely impractical way Marni-gansevoort-A-1 (seen at right thanks to Google Street View's conveniently outdated images of the site). That may be one of the reasons why it took so long to re-lease the space at the edge of the the popular Meatpacking District after all of New York's Yohji stores were abruptly closed some time ago.

We needn't have worried that Marni was going to wind up with an awkward space. When we found ourselves walking on Gansevoort Street yesterday afternoon, it was clear that Marni and its landlord are reversing Yohji Yamamoto's inventive but tricky architectural alterations which will, most importantly recapture many square feet of selling space that for a time had been generaously (perhaps too generously) relinquished to pedestrians on a not particularly crowded street. When Marni opens next month, it will have substantially more spacious if more conventional layout.

Marni To Take Gansevoort For A Third NY Store



Marni To Take Gansevoort For A Third NY Store

Italian label Marni continues to increase its presence in New York with the announcement that it will be taking over the 2,500 square foot store at 1 Gansevoort Street that briefly held a Yohji Yamamoto boutique. The store is on the pointy block where Gansevoort Street veers off from West 13th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. Adidas Y-3, Catherine Malandrino, Calypso St. Barths and Andrew Buckler are all steps away. The new boutique is set to open sometime next month and will feature, along with women's and men's lines, the U.S. debut of Marni's children's line for all those parents who long to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes that will be outgrown in six months. The store features an unusual design adapted for the previous occupant which separated the main selling space completely from the part of the building which holds backstock and offices —a striking element that could prove especially impractical in adverse weather, but makes for a light filled, airy ambiance inside the store.

Marni to Open Boutique in Meatpacking District (WWD)


Dagny & Barstow Defies Murphy's Law To Open On Gansevoort Street... For Now

Ever had someone suggest you should open a store, or a bakery, or a restaurant like it was just something easy anyone could do? Emily Titelman and Meredith Blank have been chronicling their ongoing experiences of trying to get their boutique Dagny & Barstow open for RACKED. It reads like an extended treatise on the effects of Murphy's Law, and yet the persistent storekeepers soldier on, unfazed, battling community boards, Landmarks commissions, lazy utility companies and any number of construction permit processes with uncommon good humor, knowing that one day the store of their dreams would come together, just not as quickly as they had hoped.

Originally meant to open this Fall on the Bowery in a space that once housed a nightclub owned by Lenny Kravitz, Dagny & Barstow is now open in a pop-up location clear across town at 64 Gansevoort Street. While construction presumably continues at the Bowery location, Titelman and Blank had ordered Fall merchandise back in January that needed to be sold somewhere, so the resourceful pair found a temporary spot to tide them over until their store's permanent home is ready. Click over to Racked for their list of potential disasters that every aspiring retailer should be preopared for, and then go back and read the rest of their Opening Diaries.

How Dagny & Barstow, Planned for the Bowery, Wound Up in the Meatpacking District, Opening Diary Archives (RACKED)


A Video Tour Of Michael Bastian's Tropical-Themed Gant Collection

Bastian-Gant You may be deeply involved in trying to keep up with the Spring Collections in Milan, but the tireless PR department at Gant has just sent us their latest video featuring the presentation of Michael Bastian's Hawaiian-inspired Spring 2012 Collection for the label that was staged a couple of weeks ago at The Park in Chelsea. It was the diametric opposite of his Swedish Winter Fall collection, and one of our most enjoyable moments of the week. It serves to demonstrate how an expertly executed presentation can sometimes be a far superior way to show a collection compared to a runway show. In the middle of a hectic Fashion Week, it made The Shophound smile, which is not so easy these days as we are extremely jaded and picky.

Look below for the video, and be sure to click over Bastian's Sunshine Days blog which chronicles his inspirations and all the activity around putting the collection together.

Michael Bastian For Gant Presents A Surf Lodge On 10th Avenue


Doo.ri, Thakoon, Herve Leger, Bric's, Missoni, Ash, John Varvatos, Jack Spade, Dolce & Gabbana, Seize Sur Vingt, Gant, Vera Wang, Hudson

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!

Doo.Ri/Thakoon, BCBG, EMU Australia, Azaara Jewelry, Twinkle/Petro Zillia, Magaschoni, Calvin Klein Underwear, Dolce Vita/Ash Shoes, Thread Social, Miha, Karen Zambos, ADAM, Free City, Riller & Fount, Herve Leger, Lucy, Twenty8Twelve —join HERE
Blinde, Canterbury of New Zealand, Equmen, Get Dresses Up: Evening Attire, Psycho Bunny, Adidas Originals, Chronicles of Never/Nicholas K, Jack Spade, J. Lindeberg, Oliberté, Vanishing Elephant and Caulfield Preparatory, PF Flyers, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace Suiting, Seize sur Vingt, John Varvatos Blowout, Shipley & Halmos, Happy Socks, Tucker Blair, Gant —join HERE
Hartmann Luggage, D.L. & Co., Fissler & Rolland, HomArt, Areaware, Decorate A Small Space, W Hotel Bedding, SimpleHuman, Kim Seybert, Pasabachce Stemware & Barware, Bellino Bed & Bath, DeLonghi, Sonoro, D&G Junior Apparel, Spooktacular Costumes and Decorations for Kids, Wonderworld Furniture for Tots, Hatch Maternity Apparel, Creative Toyshop, Leapfrog, Tea Collection, Left Bank Babies —join HERE
Hudson Jeans, Donald J. Pliner, Laundry by Shelli Segal, Joseph Abboud, Paolo Bentini, Furla, Sebago, Cuddletown, Tailorbyrd, Line, Scanpan, Honora, Brooks Brothers, American Apparel, Vera Wang, Vinotemp, Vince, Ellen Tracy, EMU Australia, Ibex, Murano —join HERE
Renn, Yochi Designs, Nautica, Missoni, It Steal Spring Street, Denim Darlings, K'vrra, Ellen Tracy, Decode 1.8, Canvas, Jamie Oliver, Kinross, Buffalo, Maggy London, Abbie Mags, Time For Ceramics, Galleryi, Da Nang, Right As Rain, Rock & Republic —join HERE
Fouta Towels & Tablecloths, Legend of Asia, Chamart, Eastern Wonder, Bric's, Pangea, Mansour, Kenneth Ludwig, Calvin Klein Dinnerware, Met Opera Posters, Frette, Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Portico, Classic Home, Abrams Books —join HERE
William Rast, John Varvatos, Matisse, L.A.M.B. Accessories, Koolaburra, ESPRIT, Tweezerman, Casio, Candela, Ella Moss, NYX Cosmetics, Qi Cashmere, Enzo Angiolini, Calvin Klein, Keds, Tateossian, Union Bay, Tahari, Charles David, Kevyn Aucoin, Crocs, Badgley Mischka, Victorinox, Lauren G. Adams, Weston Wear, Kassatex, 2xist —join HERE


What Is Barneys' New Floor
Sweeping Away?

Over the past few weeks, Barneys has been slowly unveiling one of the most dramatic changes in the store's Madison Avenue Flagship since new management led by CEO Mark Lee took over last year. The signature mosaic floor on the street level of the women's store is being replaced by sleek gray marble (see both pictured above). It is one of the most visible alteration made to the building, which has also included changing the awnings from a signature bright red to a more understated black. Behind the scenes, there was alarm throughout the retail world several months ago when key, longtime women's merchants Judy Collinson and Julie Gilhart were dismissed and Daniela Vitale and Amanda Brooks were brought in signaling big changes for Barneys, especially in it's women's store. That was a while ago, and Brooks and Vitale's contributions are just beginning to take effect as are some of Lee's initiatives.

But back to that floor. In fairnes, it looked to us that the main reason the floor had to be replaced was not a matter of taste, but that it had not held up well over the years (nobody's fault but the floor's). It was full of cracks and in need of what we are guessig would have been extremely expensive repair. A new, more easily maintainable floor would solve the problem and save the store from future upkeep expenses.

The gray marble is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but as the dominant design element in the department, that mosaic floor somehow captured the particular character of Barneys in a way that marble doesn't. It was unusual, artisanal and, most of all, unexpected, and the pattern gave the atmosphere in that section of the store a luxurious lightness that was unique in comparison with the store's competitors. The Pressman family who originally owned Barneys and oversaw the construction of the Madison Avenue flagship became famous for their extravagance when it came to store design, but their lavish tastes became part of Barneys DNA (even though it ultimately played a part in their losing control of the company). That luxurious floor (along with the red awnings) told you that Barneys was a place to find things that were uncommon, exclusive and unlike what you would see elsewhere. The luxurious look of that department told you everything you needed to know about Barneys in a glance. It made the department "pop", as they say.

And the gray marble? (See a finished section below.) Well, it seems churlish to judge a project before it has been completed. After all, there will be more changes to come, and it is the completed product that really should be assessed. And we wouldn't suggest that Lee and his team's decisions are all bad. We are particularly impressed that he decided not to allow Prada to bully its way into leasing their women's apparel and accessory departments in the store, losing the vendor in the process. In the end, maintaining his store's integrity is more important than retaining even a key brand like that. We can't imagine that he would destroy Barneys the way The Limited slowly ruined Henri Bendel over the past 25 years. It won't be until the end of the Fall shopping season when sell-throughs and sales figures will deliver a verdict on Vitale's and Brooks' direction of Barneys' women's business (Lee has left the men's merchandising team relatively intact for now). To us, though, the black awnings and rich new marble floor reminds us more of the kind of obvious luxury represented by a huge brand like, well, Gucci, where Lee and Vitale worked together previously (and which Barneys does not sell for women). That mosaic floor was unique. There's no shortage of plain marble floors in luxury stores in this city.

There are more adjustments coming up. Soon, we can expect to see an expanded Co-op department on Madison Avenue that joins the men's and women's versions of the department together on a single floor, subverting another of Barneys longtime signatures: having the men's store and the women's store side by side and accessible, but basically separate. There has even been some fiddling with the iconoc logo in advertising and on catalogs which seems ill-advised. It makes us wonder again if the new management, while certainly accomplished, fully understands why Barneys, through all of its trials and tribulations and ownership changes, has remained special, and not just another multi-floor pile of luxury brands under one roof.


Hugo Boss Issues An Apology
...After 66 Years

Now that World War II and The Holocaust are decades behind us, most Americans have long since come to terms with the country of Germany in general without having to forgive particular individuals, like, you know, Hitler and Goebbels. German companies like Mercedes-Benz and BMW now have thriving global businesses despite having served as manufacturers for the German military during the war.

Still, lots of German-based consumer companies continue to be haunted by the fact that they operated and, in many cases, thrived under Nazi rule. Even though the people who ran the companies at that time them are long gone, and current management, like most German people, repudiate that time in history, the spectre of the time hangs over them in the minds of many.

One such brand, Hugo Boss, unexpectedly issued an apology yesterday to the 140 Polish forced laborers, and roughly 40 French prisoners of war who labored in the brand's factories during The Holocaust.The message that the company wanted to "express its profound regret to those who suffered harm or hardship at the factory run by Hugo Ferdinand Boss under National Socialist rule" appeared on the Hugo Boss website yesterday. (Although this apology has been widely reported, The Shophound must note that we cannot find the original version of it on any Hugo Boss websites we have seen.)

The apology is the result of a book commissioned by the company itself meant to clarify its record during WWII. While the company has been accused over the years of designing SS Uniforms and acting as Hitler's personal tailor, the book is reportedly candid about founder Hugo Ferdinand Boss's relationship with the National Socialist Party. According to Hugo Boss, 1924-1945: The History of a Clothing Factory During the Weimar Republic and Third Reich by historian Roman Koester, Boss was in fact a loyal party member, not, as he argued after the war, someone who was forced to join to save his company. In its early years, the company benefited from manufacturing brown shirts for the then new Nazi Party and then eventually for theGerman army and the Waffen SS, but it did not design them, and acted as a manufacturer like many other German clothing companies at the time. They did, however, take advantage of the slave labor of war prisoners, which was not widely known until now, and certainly not acknowledged by the brand. The prisoners were housed separately under poor conditions. According to Koester's book, Mr. Boss attempted to improve their conditions by housing and feeding them himself, but was rebuffed by German authorities. After the war, Boss was tried and find for his participation.

So, on the one hand, Boss himself was not Hitler's personal costume designer, but on the other, he used foreign slave labor and, at least at the beginning, was an enthusiastic Nazi party member. Though still based in Metzingen, Germany, it is now owned by the Valentino Fashion Group, part of the Italian private equity firm Permira. Whether this recent apology will mollify the many who have been Hugo Boss's whispering critics over the years remains to be seen, although it may have just served to remind people of an ignominious part of the company's past. You get to decide.

Hugo Boss apology for Nazi past as book is published (BBC)
Hugo Boss Funds Historical Study (WWD)
Hugo Boss (Official Site)