« April 2012 | Main | June 2012 »


It's An Early Halloween As Kiehl's Puts Mr. Bones In The Spotlight

One of the peculiar charms of Kiehl’s Since 1851 stores is Mr. Bones, the teaching skeleton/brand mascot that dated back to the company's early pharmacy days when he was used to illustrate ailments to customers. Now the beauty and treatment brand is celebrating him by partnering with 13 celebrities to create their own versions of Mr. Bones (pictured above) that will be on display at area Kiehl's stores for six weeks starting this weekend. In exchange for their participation Kiehl's has donated $200,000 to organizations benefiting Children, the Environment, and HIV/AIDS causes worldwide of their choosing. At the end pf this year, each Mr. Bones will be auctioned off to further benefit these charities. Included in the list of skeleton decorators are Alicia Keys, Jeffrey Costello & Robert Tagliapietra of Costello Tagliapietra, David Chang with Steve Keene, Desi Santiago, Frank Kozik, Kenny Scharf, Nathan Sawaya, Olek (Agata Oleksiak), Padma Lakshmi, Tats Cru, Timothy White, Terry Richardson and Zach Galifianakis.

To promote the project, Kiehl's is launching a host of events in stores and through online various online platforms to ensure that everyone gets a chance to win win one of 206 prizes —one for every bone in the skeleton.

In Kiehl's stores, visitors who participate in a complimentary skin care consultation or 20-minute facial,  or make a purchase will get a chance to draw a specially marked Kiehl’s packette sample out of a box and win a prize ranging from Kiehl’s gift cards ($25 to $500) and full-size Kiehl’s products, T-shirts, and a dermatologist visit with Kiehl’s consulting dermatologist Dr. Adam Geyer.

On Twitter, visitors to participating Kiehl's stores who Tweet their check in or photo of Mr. Bones and include #MrBones and #KiehlsGives, can win prizes that include a $500 Kiehl’s gift card.

Visitors to Kiehl’s Facebook page will be able to create their own Mr. Bones, save it to the Kiehl’s gallery, and enter to win more prizes including a $1,000 Kiehl’s gift card.

The seven area stores that will be showcasing Mr. Bones include the original Kiehl's pharmacy on Third Avenue in the East Village as well as locations on Columbus Avenue, Lexington Avenue, West 14th Street in the Meatpacking District, Roosevelt Field Mall, Garden State Plaza and The Mall at Short Hills, so get out and shop, and find a fancy skeleton for a good cause.

Kiehl’s Since 1851 (Official Site and on Facebook)


J.Press Meets Ovadia & Sons
For A New Sportswear Label

Ovadia-sonsIn an arrangement that sounds vaguely familiar, the venerable mens retailer J.Press has tapped 29-year-old twin designers Shimon and Ariel Ovadia of the two year old luxury mens label Ovadia & Sons (pictured at right) to design a new collection that will be sold exclusively in its U.S. store starting next Spring.

If this is making you think of Thom Browne's Black Fleece collection at Brooks Brothers, you wouldn't be the only one. J.Press is obviously, and smartly following the larger retailer's template for injecting some fashion excitement into its brand with designers known for their own youthful spin on classic style. Both stores are steeped in tradition, and though J.Press, now owned by Japan based Onward Kashiyama, does not have the reach of its competitor, its customers are said to be even more fiercely devoted to its particular variety of classic menswear.

The new, as yet unnamed label will not contain the Ovadia name, and will focus more on casual sportswear meant to compete with the likes of J.Crew and Ralph Lauren's Rugby for a younger customer. “That’s why it was so exciting to my brother and I,” Ariel Ovadia tells WWD, “Even though 70 percent of our collection is sportswear, we don’t really get into things like Henleys and T-shirts.”

This is not J.Crew's first atempt to broaden its scope in recent years. Although it recently employed another burgeoning American designer with a cult following, Mark McNairy, as its overall creative director, his tenure was reportedly marked by creative struggles, and he has gone on to greater success by focusing on his own brand and taking over design duties at the Woolrich Woolen Mills label. Two years ago, J.Press offered a capsule collection at Urban Outfitters featuring lower price points which lasted for one season.

This time, however, it looks like the retailer entering the venture with a stronger strategy to attract younger customers. This collection will add a more casual side not only to its own traditional assortments, but should also complement its designers' more luxurious but still classically minded brand. For now, the offerings are being kept under wraps, possibly until a name for the new label is being formulated. While it will be available only at J.Press Stores in New York City, New Haven, CT, Cambridge, MD, and Washington DC, the new brand is being devised as a "freestanding" brand that clearly has potential for wider distribution at other stores in the future. If all goes as planned, it could point towards an intriguing future for relatively quiet but widely respected American retailer.

Ovadia & Sons Creates Collection for J. Press (WWD)
J.Press (Official Site)
Ovadia & Sons (Official Site)
What Is The Meaning Of J.Press For Urban Outfitters? (12/14/2010)


Clomping On Cobblestones Edition

31zCRITICAL2-popupThis Week's Thursday Styles sends Critical Shopper Alexandra Jacobs to the new Nicholas Kirkwood boutique in the Meatpacking District. Kirkwood has done as much as anyone to cultivate the taste for the kind of astonishingly elaborate and vertiginous platform shoes at four figure prices that are even giving Manolo Blahnik pause. Women (at least some women) seem bewitched by such styles, but Jacobs seems less enchanted, repeatedly referring to the customers who are trying them on, as well as the store's employees as "clomping" rather than walking. She quickly finds the irony having a store that turns women into highly decorated Clydesdales nestled among the cobblestone streets that can sometimes make a brisk walk in flats into a challenge for the ankles. Practicality in general seems to be a low priority for the brand.

Thus far at least, the service at Nicholas Kirkwood is as crisply minimal as the setting. It helps to choose the shoes you’d like to sample all at once, as the few salespeople have to clomp down to the basement to retrieve them (“We need a dumbwaiter,” one complained).

Even the limited stock policy (one of each size per style) seems suspect,

This seems like a cultivated air of rarity anyway, since many of the same styles are sold a few blocks north at Jeffrey, not to mention Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.

Sounds appealing? Not really, but then the existence of the desire for such torturous footwear defies logic to being with, so it all makes a perverse sort of sense.

Critical Shopper: Want Comfy and Cheap? Try Foot Locker, Not Nicholas Kirkwood By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
Nicholas Kirkwood 807 Washington Street between Gansevoort and Horatio Streets, Meatpacking District


Neiman Marcus Brings Its CUSP Chain Under The Big Roof

A few years ago The Shophound visited the first Cusp store in Tysons Corner, Virginia to see if Neiman Marcus could take on the then burgeoning Barneys Co-op with its own self-generated contemporary chain. That was six years ago, and after five more locations were unveiled, expanding the concept to the Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles areas, the jury was still out on whether or not Neiman Marcus would roll the chain out aggressively or abandon it. There was always a sense that the retailer would eventually have to "go big or go home" with Cusp, and now we know that the concept will stay alive and expand nationally —but only within Neiman Marcus stores.
For now.

What seemed like it was being groomed as a Co-op Killer is now following the pattern of its rival chain in reverse as all of Neiman Marcus' women's contemporary departments will be revamped and renamed Cusp by the end of the year. New fixturing, decor and, in some stores, expansion of the departments to an average size of 8,000 square feet will be eimplemented to create a contrast with Neiman Marcus' cometitors in the category like Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and, most importantly, Saks Fifth Avenue. The strategy will also provide a different environment for the customer within the stores themselves that will be more relaxed and inviting to a younger customer who might be put off by the department store's typically opulent ambiance. “We really want this world to feel more like a boutique than what you might find in a large department store. It’s a much more hands-on approach to product presentation in the mixing of categories and classifications,” Jim Gold, president of specialty retail for the Neiman Marcus Group tells WWD. While no hard plans for freestanding Cusp boutiques are on the board at the moment, Gold suggests that once the concept has been fully established within Neiman Marcus stores, the company will have a better idea how to proceed with expanding it as a separate chain.

So will New York, a city that, even in the worst of times, seems to have an insatiable appetite for every sort of contemporary boutique no matter how much the same merchandise is replicated from door to door, get a Cusp of its own, eventually? We probably won't find out for a while, though it might be the only way that Neiman's could commercially enter the city without directly competing with its singular but highly significant sister store, Bergdorf Goodman. WWD speculates that the strengthening of cusp, along with the recent appointment of Josh Schulman as Bergdorf Goodman's president may be part of a strategy to burnish the Neiman Marcus Group in advance of a rumored public stock offering. That remains to be seen, but New Yorkers who want to check out Cusp for themselves will soon get a chance to at the Neiman Marcus stores that circle the city without actually entering it.

Neiman Marcus to Relaunch Cusp by David Moin (WWD)
Cusp (Official Site)

Neiman Marcus' Cusp Builds a Loft in the Mall (08/14/2006)


EXPRESS Switches Times Square Sites

ExpressWSJThose if us who weren't born yesterday will remember when a trendy offshoot of The Limited eventually called EXPRESS became one of the hottest chain stores of the 1980s and 90s. By the turn of this century, however, Express, along with the namesake chain of its parent company began to falter as stores like Zara and H&M offered stiff competition and Limited Brands turned its focus to the still vital Victoria's Secret,  Bath & Body Works and the umpteenth attempt to turn the sad shell of a store that continues to call itself Henri Bendel into some kind of profitable chain. The two chains were sold off in 2007, and a slow but deliberate revamp has been under way since then. Express has announced plans to raise its profile with the kind of major flagships that its competitors have increase their recognition among customers. For a few months now, a deal to take over the former ESPN Zone restaurant space at 3 Times Square has been expected to be announced for a new Express flagship. It's a prestige space with 42nd Street exposure, but in a surprise move the chain has revealed that it will be taking over a different restaurant space, a somewhat less glamorous T.G.I.Fridays in 1552 Broadway at 46th Street (pictured above right). Why the switch? Observers suggest that because rents in the Times Square neighborhood are so high, often clearing $1,800 per square foot, subtle differences in location can make a crucial difference in the success or failure of a store. 46th street is closer to what is known as the "bow tie" where Broadway and Seventh Avenue cross. Putting it simply, "Everybody comes to Times Square to see what's going on in the bow tie. Not everybody walks all the way down to 42nd street," Cushman & Wakefield retail broker C. Bradley Mendelson tells The Wall Street Journal. At a rent that could top $20 million a year, even a slight location miscalculation could make a difference in the fortunes of the entire chain, and Express C.E.O. Michael Weiss is expecting the new flagship strategy to relaunch the brand to the teeming throngs of tourists, slack-jawed and otherwise, who crowd through Times Square on a daily basis. Look for a splashy Express opening sometime soon.

Express to Times Square (Wall Street Journal)


MARNI, Trina Turk, Rick Owens, Audemars Piguet, New Balance, Converse, Brioni, Catherine Malandrino, YSL, Miu Miu, Giorgio Armani

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!

Kathryn Amberleigh, MARNI, Tibi/Adam, Corey Lynn Calter, Via Spiga, Carlos Falchi, Caudalie, Swarovski, Kooba, Moncollet, Gunmetal, Imitation, Banana Republic x Trina Turk, MARC by Marc Jacobs, Cynthia Steffe, Boy by Band of Outsiders/Rick Owens, Delman —join HERE
Martin Greenfield, Antonio Maurizi, Vintage Watches, Trafalgar, Jan Leslie, Alexander Olch, J.W. Hulme, Audemars Piguet, Joseph Abboud, Pantherella, New Balance, Rumba Time, eShave, Psycho Bunny, Pierrepont Hicks, Mateo Bijoux, Tsovet Watches, Converse, Eastland Soe Co., Vilebrequin, Tucker Blair Belts, Matuse —join HERE
Brioni, Furla, Yoana Baraschi, Liora Manne, Kork-Ease, Calvin Klein, Catherine Malandrino, Anatex Toys, Lilla P, Cuddledown, 7 For All Mankind, Cynthia Rowley, Anne Cole Swim, Elaine Tirner, Carmen Marc Valvo —join HERE
Yves Saint Laurent, ABS, Charles David, Car Shoe, Puma, Miu Miu, Ash, Gucci, Christian Dior, Paul Smith Ben Minkoff, Vince Camuto, Hickey Freeman, Fendi, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Hugo Boss —join HERE
CARMEN Carmen Marc Valvo, Missoni, Hurley Girls, René Rofé, Seychelles, Yoon, Claeson, David Khan, Giorgio Armani, Hickey Freeman, Nicole Miller, Waechtersbach, Yuka, English Laundry, Nambé —join HERE
Couleur Nature Table Linens, Koverton, Siena Silver Frames, Rizzoli Boks, Nandini Bedding, Noir, Barbara Cosgrove Lamps & Accents, William Stafford Photographs, Beach Towels, Tony Duquette, Picnic at Ascot —join HERE
Ella Moss/Splendid Swim, Betsey Johnson, Florsheim, Chaiken & Capone, Orla Kiely, Loveappella Scarves, New Balance, Modern Amusement, Max Studio, Incase, TART, Amrita Singh, Bjorn Borg, Cosabella —join HERE
General Idea Shoes, B:Scott, Pinkyotto, Dr. Hauschka, FACTORY by Erik Hart, Nanette Lepore, D&G by Dolce & Gabbana, Olivia Harris by Joy Gryson, Ash Shoes, Trina Turk Rugs, Barclay Butera Art, Aquascutum, Kevia Jewelry, Andrew Marc Collection Handbags, French Sole, Lunares, John Varvatos Shoes, Ritmo Mundo, Catherine Angiel, Melissa & Doug, Rogaska —join HERE
Levi's Vintage Clothing, Nike Eyewear, Edox Watches, Linde Werdelin Watches —join HERE
nuLoom, Selamat Designs, Vers Audio, Braun, Yedi Houseware, Shrine Rack, Schmidt Brothers Cutlery, Areaware, Waring Pro, Anderson Design Group, Sprayground, Issey Miyake Watches —join HERE


Is Elsa Peretti Fixing
To Split With Tiffany?

ElsaperettiToday's WWD is floating a rumor that Elsa Peretti, a mainstay of Tiffany & Co.'s stable of designers, is considering leaving the famous jeweler which has manufactured and sold her work exclusively since 1974. This information comes after SEC filings revealed that Tiffany has offered to purchase the designer's intellectual property outright for an undisclosed sum. Peretti reportedly responded by suggesting that she was considering "retiring" their longtime licensing agreement and severing her relationship with the retailer.

If Peretti left exited the jeweler, Tiffany would left with Paloma Picasso, Jean Schlumberger who died in 1987 and Frank Gehry who is primarily an architect in its portfolio of proprietary branded jewelry. The last high profile split from Tiffany was Angela Cummings' departure in 1984. She launched her own fine jewelry company with in in-store shop at Bergdorf Goodman, but closed her business in 2003.

If Peretti did split with Tiffany, the separation would be a year and a half process during which rights to manufacture and sell the designs would transfer back to the designer in stages. At that point she would have the option to make her own arrangements for selling products under her own name. Should she choose to do so, there is likely no shortage of retailers who would be ready to offer Peretti's sleek, minimal and timeless designs under their own roofs. Her work ranges from relatively inexpensive silver jewelry to pieces in precious metals and gemstones as well as accessories and home furnishings, suggesting a broad market for an independent Elsa Peretti brand. The question implied by WWD's article is whether or not the 72 year old designer is ready to end what has always seemed like a mutually beneficial 36-year relationship with Tiffany in favor of striking out on her own. The classic, iconic qualities of many of her most famous designs (Diamonds by the Yard, Alphabet, the signature Open Heart, the Bone Cuff, etc.) indicate that her archive of designs will continue to have a commercial appeal long after she might choose to retire, and there would also be opportunities to expand her brand into other design categories like furniture or other home furnishings not carried by Tiffany. Is this her plan, or if it is simply a negotiating tactic to adjust her current agreement with Tiffany? The result could be a huge opportunity not only for Peretti but for any number of retailers who might be eager to be in the Peretti business.

Tiffany, Elsa Peretti Licensing Deal May End (WWD)


TARGET Adds Gay Pride Tees
To Online Mix

TARGETPRIDEWhat does it mean when a huge, mass-market retailer like Target adds ten Gay Pride t-shirts to its online offerings? In a year when same-sex marriage continues to be a lightning rod-issue in Presidential and state politics, it says something about progress and attitudes. In fact, voters in target's home state of Minnesota will vote this fall on a state contitutional amendment prohibiting same-se marriage. Are the new product offerings a result of Target's troubles with gay activists a couple of years ago when the retailer was discovered to have donated $150,000 to the MN Forward PAC  supporting Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who was known to hold some anti-gay views? Boycotts were threatened. A music deal with Lady Gaga was torpedoed, and the company's generally exemplary reputation for supporting its gay employees with fair and equal benefits was tarnished by the bad publicity.

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder tells Minneapolis' Star Tribune that the decision to offer the shirts came not from that embarrassing episode, but was generated by the company's 1,200 employee strong LGBTA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allies) Business Council. "Over the past year, we heard from our team members and guests that they'd like to see an assortment of Pride merchandise available at Target."

The shirts which became available this week, sell for $12.99 each, and the entire purchase price will be donated to the Boston-based Family Equality Council which is dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents and their families. The assortment includes 10 different styles including one by singer Gwen Stefani, who also sells an exclusive line for children called Harajuku Juniors at the chain. As far as we can tell, the shirts are available only online, not at Target stores, so...baby steps.

Line of Target T-shirts to support gay pride (Star-Tribune via Towleroad)


Get Ready For Lots Of Dots From
Louis Vuitton & Artist Yayoi Kusama

It's been a couple of years since the last time Louis Vuitton created a frenzy for its artist collaboration collections, but all that will change in mid-July when the huge but still coveted brand will release a line designed with Japanese artist Yaoi Kusama, a longtime favorite of Vuitton designer Marc Jacobs. LV-kasumaThe collection, to be sold in 461 Vuitton stores, will be released to coincide with a retrospective exhibition of the artist's work slated to open at The Whitney Museum of American Art on July 12. Apparel and shoes as well as handbags and accessories will be included, featuring dotted patterns reflecting the artist's signature motifs, and will be accompanied by a tremendous marketing push that includes an iPhone app (featuring a picture of the artist, above) that will transform photos with Kusama's patterns and motifs. Major window displays will also appear at LV stores that pointedly will feature no actual merchandise. In addition, elaborate installations are planned are planned at select department and specialty stores that have Louis Vuitton leased departments. In New York City, that could mean at Macy's Herald Square Flagship, Saks Fifth Avenue or Bloomingdale's at 59th Street —or maybe at all three as they feature especially large LV departments.

It's safe to assume that the collection, to be produced in limited quantities, will create the kind of demand that had customers lining up at Vuitton for bags designed with Takashi Murakami and Stephen Sprouse, but this Summer's lines will be but a precursor for a second Kusama collection to hit stores in October. Get ready for the lind of hype blitz that Vuitton has perfected over the years, and watch as the counterfeiters scramble to replicate the most popular items.

Louis Vuitton to Unveil Kusama Collaboration (WWD)


Circle Of Friends Edition

24CRITICAL6-popupCritical Shopper Jon Caramanica seems to have gotten all emotional after his visit to SoHo's eclectic boutique/gallery/coffee bar/general hangout American Two-Shot. In this week's Thursday Styles, he begins by declaring the city to be made up not of neighborhoods or demographic segments, but of groups of friends whose interactions shape its history. So clearly he's in kind of a different mood this week.

It is the unique, relaxed ambiance of American Two-Shot that has put him in this frame of mind. The store is apparently less a business endeavor, than a depository for a the results of friends' hobbies. There is repurposed vintage wear (using vintage in the loosest way that really just means "used"), and whimsical, handmade items that sound like they may not seem as witty and clever once removed from the confines of the store.

To shop the store properly, you have to treat it more like a clubhouse, with layers you can’t see at first glance. That’s because, as much as this is a retail environment, it’s the expression of the will of a group of intimates, who speak one another’s language, and for which immersion is required.

We actually started wondering how this place would ever survive in a bustling retail hub like SoHo with its aggressively priced rents. It sounds more like something you might find on a side street in a Brooklyn neighborhood transitioning from blight to hipster, and then he lets on that the women's offerings include actual fashion collections from young designers like Porter Grey and Timo Weiland. So it's a real store after all, but one that may make you want to chuck it all to make hand-screened t-shirts and run a two-seat coffee bar.

Critical Shopper: Gaining Entry to That Stomping Ground By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
American Two-Shot 135 Grand Street at Crosby Street, SoHo