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Steuben Calls It Quits Forever

The Shophound was surprised to see the windows of the Steuben store on Madison Avenue plastered with Final Sale signs, and when we walked into the store, there was the unmistakably mournful air of a once venerable and still well-admired company drawing its last breaths. A crestfallen salesperson told us that Steuben is not just closing the store, but shutting down its 108-year-old crystal and glass production entirely. Within a few weeks, it will be gone from the market completely, ending an era of fine crystal and art glass production in the United States. The Madison Avenue shop is its only freestanding store.

SteubenClosing-BOwned for most of its existence by commercial glass giant Corning Inc., Steuben was nurtured to produce fine glass and crystal that could compete with legendary overseas brands like Baccarat and Waterford. Whether or not it was a big moneymaker for Corning, its quality and prestige were points of pride for the company which made enough money from Pyrex and Corningware to support an artisanal division that represented the finest America could offer. For generations, no upscale-minded home or bridal registry would be complete without at least one or two pieces of Steuben glass even if it was just an ashtray or paperweight. The name became a mainstay in luxury stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus, often presented in its own, pristine in-store boutiques which was uncommon for a crystal and glassware brand. The company's failure to keep up with changing tastes led it to fall out of favor by the time the 21st century began, and new corporate pressure to operate more profitably led to lower quality products that didn't help matters. In 2008, the brand was sold to retail conglomerate Schottenstein Stores Inc., who quietly chose to shut it down about six weeks ago. Though Corning has since reacquired the trademarks, and may rehire a few of the laid-off workers, it is not expected that it will start producing glassware under the name again.

The upside for collectors is that today's closeouts will become coveted collectors items before too long, especially if they came from Steuben's upstate New York factories. What's disappointing, though, is that at a time when luxury markets are again surging, and distinguished American clothing brands like Woolrich, L.L.Bean and Pendleton are being revamped and rediscovered by a younger generation, nobody can figure out how to preserve an iconic name like Steuben.

Steuben 667 Madison Avenue (at 61st Street)


Pringle, Zac Posen, ADAM, Dolce Vita, J. Mendel, Derek Lam, New Balance, SPURR, Jack Rogers, Ghurka, Cynthia Steffe, Leifsdottir, NSF

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/Black Fleece, Zac Posen, Gold Hawk, N.D.C. Made By Hand, Elie Tahari, ADAM, Dolce Vita, StriVectin, Cynthia Rowley Legwear, Alice + Olivia, J.Mendel, Bajra Scarves, Derek Lam, Tocca, Fluxus, Furla, Haute Hippie, Tart Intimates, Kenneth Cole —join HERE
Calvin Klein, Link Up Cufflinks & Accessories, NSF, New Balance Sneakers (10/31)
Earnest Sewn, Just A Cheap Shirt, WeSC Headphones, Grenson, Hanro, VBN, WANT Les Essentials de la Vie, SPURR, John Varvatos ★ USA, Kenneth Cole
—join HERE
Beauville French Table Linens, BergHOFF, Lladro, Michael Aram, Saint Parfum Candles, The Art Museum by Phaidon, Iittala, Desiron, Lighting Event, Ways to Spruce Up A New Home, Anichini Bedding, Archipelago Candles & Diffusers, John Boos, Angela Adams Rugs and Innovation Home Furniture, SHI SHI BABY: Bamboo Blankets, Bungalow BeBe, Dutalier Gliders & Ottomans, Educational Insights, Peac, Love & Cupcakes: Adorable Dresses, Horizon Rugs for Kids, NOM Maternity, Elephantito, The Ultimate Bean Bay: Fatboy —join HERE
Calvin Klein, Jack Rogers, Cynthia Steffe, Mavi Jeans, Ghurka, Rotary, Crystorama, DVF Home, Christopher Fischer, Corso Como, Thomas Dean, Leifsdottir, Kay Unger, Rainforest, Cesare Paciotti, Nordic Ware, Betsey Johnson, 7 Diamonds, Vintage Shoe Co., Barbara Barry, Kalorik —join HERE
Absorba, Calvin Klein Jeans, Joseph Abboud, Linen Love, Rock & Republic, Shae, DKNY Jeans, Eliza J  —join HERE
Neoferro Mirrors & Furniture, Siena Frames, Corbell & Co. Silver, Elle Decor Trunk Archive, Nazmiyal Rugs, Carole Gratale, Charles Fradin Home, Peninsula Home, Pamela Kline, Canterbury, Steven Shell, Country Kitchen Tabletop, Taschen —join HERE
Rock & Republic, Charles by Charles David, T-Tech by Tumi, Olive & Oak, Magenta, Kenneth Cole, Rebecca Minkoff, Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, Joseph Abboud, Eva Mejl Collection, Nourison, Laura Geller TAG, Current/Elliott, Invicta, Lucky Brand, The Sak, Maggie Ward, Weatherproof —join HERE


Apple SoHo
Makes A Temporary Move

After hearing months ago that Apple would be temporarily be moving their SoHo store to 72 Greene Street, we were wondering when exactly they were planning to do this. Well, this past week, the company's longtime Prince Street store finally closed for a major renovation and expansion. AppleSoHoSignFor however long that takes, customers will be directed a couple of blocks away to the temporary store. Having seen it, we now understand what took so long, because what Apple considers "temporary", looks for all the world like a perfectly permanent installation. Of course, for most markets, a roomy two-level Apple store would more than adequate, but for busy SoHo, we anticipate that it will be crowded most of the time, especially at Christmas. In fact, it was pretty bustling on a rainy Thursday afternoon. It has pretty much all the same features as the store it is subbing for except for the amphitheater —and we didn't immediately if there were restrooms (one of the Prince Street store's most popular features). There is indeed a genius bar, and all the other usual services, but given the inevitable crowd crush that comes with a recent iPhone launch combined with the upcoming Holiday shopping season, we might suggest that regular Apple SoHo customers might do well to venture up to 14th Street and Ninth Avenue for an easier shopping experience.


Carhartt Goes Upscale In SoHo

Everybody knows Carhartt. They are the unofficial designer of construction workers everywhere. The stuff wears like iron, some of it is even flameproof, and best of all it's cheap —which therefore makes it equally popular among young hipsters in that ironic/rugged Americana sort of way. Those who are used to picking up their canvas chinos and chore coats at Dave's Army & Navy, however, will be in for a surprise when they get a load of the new Carhartt store on Crosby Street that opened yesterday. There they will find slim-cut khakis, soft flannel shirts and jackets that have been trimmed down dramatically from the brand's traditional refrigerator-shaped fit along with prices that are double and triple what they are used to seeing.

This new store is the stateside debut of Carhartt's Work In Progress line. For a few years now, Carhartt has been selling a European-designed premium collection overseas that leverages the brand's appealing, durable reputation for a line meant for people not as likely to be waking up early to lay bricks or pour a concrete floor. Let's say it's a latent, but not unwelcome version of the Red Wing Boot/Wolverine 1000 Mile/Pendelton/Woolrich effect. It's the authentic workwear look people now want at a the luxurious quality level acceptable to the sort of person who knows what an authentic workwear look is. While prices are substantially higher than the traditional Carhartt line, they tend to fall in the men's contemporary range with jeans and shirts checking out at around $100-$125 for example, so it's not a total luxury takeover of the brand. There are gloves, belts and other accessories that also balance the label's rugged image with the level of refinement in suited to the premium line.

The new shop has a simple, brick wall/wooden shelf look that befits the brand's no-nonsense roots, jazzed up with a neon script Carhartt sign glowing on the wall. We would love to say that the staff at the new Carhartt shop were thrilled to see a customer come through their doors on their rainy first day open, but they seemed to be too busy congratulating each other to pay much attention to The Shophound poking around. What can we say? Considering that the shop is on a particularly sleepy stretch of Crosby Street, we are guessing that necessity will force them to better engage their customers, especially after having to repeatedly explain who they are to the inevitable misguided construction workers who find themselves there.

Carhartt Work In Progress Now open at 119 Crosby Street between Houston & Prince Streets, SoHo


Muji Introduces Your iGlove

It feels like we have been ignoring our other favorite Japanese retail chain lately, so let us correct that by presenting a new item that perfectly fulfills Muji's mission of providing practical, useful products. This Saturday, the company will launch the Touchscreen Glove for men and women which will allow wearers to operate their iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and any other touchscreen devices in cold weather without removing their hand-coverings. The gloves have connective material interwoven through the thumb and forefinger tips in eight different colors, so now you will be able to check Facebook or Twitter while you are waiting for a bus or train during what is sure to be another brutal winter. Just think, now you can have toasty fingers as you walk and text all over the city while the sidewalks are covered in snow and ice. Imagine the entertaining wipeouts they will facilitate. OK, so use with caution...

Muji's Touchscreen Glove will be available in stores this Saturday October 29th and are available online right now.


FIT Peeks Into
Daphne Guinness's Unique World

Daphne-rene-habermacherWe haven't been paying enough attention to The Museum at FIT lately, and we have no really good reason why. We know we missed a few good exhibitions, but we feel like we made up for it yesterday when we stopped by to see its latest display simply titled Daphne Guinness.

It's one of the rare (but not unprecedented) fashion exhibitions based not on a particular designer or period, but on the personal style of one individual, and its worth a visit just for the sheer, mind-boggling spectacle of her wardrobe, or even just to gawk at her crazy balance-defying shoes. It's hard to imagine imagine to what occasion a person would wear one Alexander McQueen embroidered bodysuit, but the features two of them, and we suspect that she probably has a bunch more at home. Guinness is no mere shopper, and the show makes a strong case for her not only as a stylish person, but as a collector and patroness of fashion as a design pursuit. Co-curated by the woman herself and Valerie Steele along with Fred Dennis, the show focuses heavily on designers like McQueen and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, but rarely features an outfit composed by a single label. Instead they freely mix a Lacroix Jacket with a Valentino gown or possibly one designed by Guinness herself and so on, just as Guinness does herself. The exhibition's design by Ken Nintzel maintains a clean backdrop for the sensory overload of all the elaborate garments, dividing FIT's cavernous exhibition space into six districts of the subject's style. In fact, it's almost surprising to see a pair of Azzedine Alaïa gowns looking sleek and minimal amongst all the baroque embellishment.

It's tough to compare anything to the recent Alexander McQueen blockbuster at the Costume Institute, but this show about Guinness easily serves as a worthy counterpart, or perhaps a coda. Where the Met delved into the extraordinarily fertile imagination of a prodigious designer, this show turns the focus to one of the few women on the planet who will actually wear those outlandish runway pieces and incorporate them into her real life, however rarefied it may be —and the shoes prove that her life is nothing if not rarefied.  Few individuals have the resources to compile such a collection of couture, but it is entertaining to say the least, to take a moment and marvel at one who does.

Daphne Guinness at The Museum at FIT through January 7th, 1012, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, Chelsea


Inevitable UNIQLO Edition

27JPCRITIC-popupWe actually thought that the Critical Shopper was a bit slow on the draw regarding UNIQLO's new Fifth Avenue global flagship store. It has been open for a whole week and a half, after all, but in this week's Thursday Styles, Alexandra Jacobs braves the crowds to put her two cents in. She seems to be of two minds concerning not just the store, but Uniqlo in general. On the one hand, she finds the store's forward-thinking, future-minded point fo view refreshing in an age that incessantly recycles the aesthetics of previous decades. On the other, as many have at Uniqlo, she runs into trouble in the fitting room.

A white Heattech shirt...made me look like a bratwurst. The much-anticipated tingle never materialized, but I did see a split at the elbow-skin, a discovery corresponding with some early adopters’ criticisms that Uniqlo’s fabrics do not stand up to repeated wear.

She is equally displeased with the store's skinny jeans (a style whose widespread popularity she gives what had up until now been a single store in SoHo perhaps too much credit for) and what should be an easier-to-wear pair of boot cut denims.

So she has learned what the seasoned Uniqlo shopper has long since discovered: How to discern the well-priced pieces worth investing in (down jackets, +J, flannel shirts, underwear, anything basic) from the stuff to leave on the shelf (anything that feels cheap). She'll be back.

Critical Shopper: Uniqlo Lands on Fifth Avenue By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
UNIQLO 666 Fifth Avenue at 53rd Street, Midtown


Blush Bows Out
But Hangs In On Bleecker Street

Weekend visitors to Bleecker Street found one of the last remnants of the street's past as a neighborhood shopping street in the throes of closure. Blush, a women's boutique commonly described as "funky" is shutting down at 333 Bleecker Street between Christopher and West 10th Streets, but claims to be moving just across the street. What's remarkable is that while most of the independent boutiques that have been evacuated from their precious homes on Bleecker have never been heard from again, this one is relocating, apparently, on the same street. The fact that Blush has lasted as long as it has may be a result of a well-timed lease. In reading online reviews of the store, however, we discovered customers consistently describing the staff as "pushy". Surprisingly, this was not always a criticism (though it wasn't much of a compliment). Perhaps an aggressive sales staff is what an independent store needs to survive in such a valuable location.

Is Blush the kind of tenacious little store that will survive the street's transformation from neighborhood shopping to luxury? Time will tell, but its having found an alternate space on Bleecker speaks well for its survival. We're not exactly sure which space it is moving into, but the bigger question now is what big name (and it's sure to be a big name) will be moving into the prominent storefront at 333 Bleecker?


Calvin Klein Collection, Spanx, Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang, Max Mara, Vera Wang, Burberry, Theory, Gant, Raf Simons, Donna Karan, Ferragamo

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!

Line, T-Bags, Noir Jewelry, Calvin Klein Collection, Spanx, Casual Theme, First Blush, James Jeans, Obakki, Stella & Jamie, Marc Jacobs Handbags, Helmut Lang, Elie Tahari Outerwear, Max Mara, Tart, McQ/See by Chloé, Sorel,Vera Wang, Kenneth Jay Lane —join HERE
Final Sales, Burberry Prorsum/Martin Greenfield, Converse, Gilded Age, Ingersoll Watches, Ted Baker Blowout, Dolce & Gabbana, Corneliani, Tommy Hilfiger Suiting, Theory, Keds, Gant by Michael Bastian/Gant Rugger, Bosca, RAF by Raf Simons, Cockpit, Mjolk —join HERE
Eva Solo, Schott Zwiesel, Emile Henry, R&Y Augousti, Saatchi Art, Stark, Donna Karan Home, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Missoni, Royal Ascot Bath Towels & The Shelley Kyle Collection, Barclay Butera & Villa Home Pillows, Hotel Bedding, Uglydolls, Barbie, Cocoon Couture —join HERE
Stitch's, Linea Pelle, Salvatore Ferragamo/Breil/Ted Baker Watches, Linea Pelle, Loro Piana, Charles David, Company C, Sue Wong, Vera Wang Home, Rebecca & Drew Manufacturing, Casadei, Amsale, Hype, Briggs & Riley, Ike Behar —join HERE
A&R Cashmere, Cynthia Rowley, Frette, Gustto, MICHAEL Michael Kors, William Rast, BCBGeneration, Burberry, D&G Junior, Gucci, Jones New York, Kenneth Cole, Marika, Nine West, Spiegelau/Nachtmann —join HERE
Elson & Co. Rug, PÜR Cashmere, Dransfielod & Ross, Rizzoli, Maria Yee Furniture, Suzanne Rheinstein Bed & Bath, Massoud, nuLOOM, Skyros Tabletop, Olive & King, Square Feathers, Bazaar Bayar, Harvest Goods, Casafina, Archipelago —join HERE
Geneic Denim, BCBGMaxAzria, Matisse, LnA, Lucky Brand, Carla Mancini, Ouidad, A.B.S., Portolano, Calvin Klein Collection, Bruno Magli, UnionBay, Gypsy 05, Big Star Denim, NYLA, Affliction —join HERE


C.Wonder Launches
Glitzy Preppy Style In SoHo

First of all let's just say that C. Wonder, the heavily hyped concept store that officially opens tomorrow, should make a ton of money. After all, how can you fail with expensive-looking merchandise in an expensive-looking setting at inexpensive prices? Well, people have, but anyway...

CWonder-4Though the store's big debut was pushed forward to this Saturday, the big green doors on Spring Street have actually been open at least since Thursday, when The Shophound stopped by. Though it's tucked away on a medium-profile SoHo street, you won't miss the bright entryway, that will presumably become something of a signature for the nascent chain. The coming months will bring more C. Wonder locations in Paramus NJ, White Plains and Garden City, NY. Hope you like bright kelly green, because the inside of the store is a cacophony of color normally associated with a particular style more typically associated with labels like Lilly Pulitzer, Talbots and Brooks Brothers than funky downtown Manhattan. We are guessing that the reason why SoHo was chosen as a launching pad for C. Wonder is a purely result of its high tourist quotient, because this store concept looks like it was made specifically with the Upper East Side, Palm Beach and Greenwich in mind. The store is full of classic items like rubber wellies, driving shoes, belts with interchangeable initial buckles and gold-buttoned cardigans all in bright, clear primary colors. More than anything the store reminds us of Tory Burch, which is not surprising since it has been conceived by her ex-husband Chris Burch. To say that he has done a wholesale lifting of his ex-wife's look for his new venture might be a slight exaggeration, but elements of her success have been "borrowed" from her, like the amped-up preppy look with a dash of glitz, the reliance on the kind of geometric prints and patterns often found on sofas in Darien, or the elaborate initial-based emblem that makes its appearance whenever possible on the store's merchandise. The big, stylized "C" is slapped in a familiar way on handbags, wallets, woven into a snaffle decoration on a pair of loafers, etc.

CWonder-3On the plus side, the prices are way below what one would expect from Tory, with most items retailing for well under $100. The store has been compared to Anthropologie, and like that unstoppable chain, apparel is not necessarily the central focus. C. Wonder has a large section devoted to home furnishings and accessories which range from the obvious, like brightly patterned tableware and knicknacks, to the random, like signature iPhone headphones, mini-cupcake and waffle making appliances (below), slow-cookers and even metal water bottles and cycling helmets, all with that "C" logo (right).

CWonder-5Today's WWD features a questionably flattering profile of Chris Burch which paints him as something of a manic retail P.T. Barnum with a million ideas up his sleeve, a MILLION! —and they're all great! GREAT! New Yorkers can look forward to a pop-up shop for Monika Chiang coming in the next month in the space that formerly housed Victorinox on Prince Street in advance of a permanent location nearby on Wooster Street. The more expensive contemporary lifestyle brand is reportedly designed by Burch's girlfriend, and, funny coincidence, it features a prominent logo fashioned from the designer's initials. There's also Electric Love Army in the pipeline, an apparel line created in collaboration with abrasive PR executive and tenacious reality show figure Kelly Cutrone. Then there's No. 9 Christopher, “the most elegant furniture you’ll ever see,” and Poppin, an online store for colorful office supplies.

The article suggests that though Burch remains on the board of his ex-wife's company, he is moving away from it, and, wandering through C. Wonder, we couldn't help thinking that in co-opting her aesthetic at low prices, he might be kissing her off in a backhanded way. Perhaps we are projecting too much on his intentions, but the spectre of her wildly successful look seems to hover over this particular venture.

CWonder-2Possibly to distract customers form any similarities, C. Wonder will be offering all kings of activities this weekend to celebrate its launch including special appearances by TV stars Kelly Rutherford from "Gossip Girl" and Elisabeth Rohm from "Law & Order". There will be a prize wheel to be spun every 20 minutes with free swag for the winner, and the first 400 women to make a purchase will have the opportunity to send surprise flowers to "a wonderful woman in their life". On top of all that, C. Wonder "mail carriers" will be roaming SoHo with 20,000 postcards that can be redeemed in the store for various dollar amounts. There will be sweepstakes and bloggers and any number of other activities to ensure that everyone in SoHo is aware of the new store. Customers who have already discovered it appear to be eating it up.

C. Wonder 72 Spring Street between Crosby and Lafayette Streets, SoHo
Christopher Burch Plots Slew of Ventures By Sharon Edelson (WWD)
C. Wonder Brings Heavy Hype To Former Kate's Space