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Harry's Shoes Stakes Its Claim On The West Side

It's not just the big department stores who are engaged in a race to exponentially expand their shoe departments. Local stalwart Harry's Shoes recently completed tripling its size in an economy where most independent stores are simply trying to keep their businesses from shrinking. The 81-year-old retailer was given a rare opportunity to grow its floor space without moving to a new location when next-door neighbor Talbot's, which as a company is facing its own challenges, shrank the size of its Upper West Side store, leaving an empty space just waiting for Harry's to annex.

Regular customers will be relieved to know that Harry's has not taken the opportunity to turn itself into a sleek, designer shoe salon. It's still the neighborhood store where our regular salesperson will know your name The new Harry's feels pretty much like the old Harry's, just a bit less cluttered and better lit. Two long couches sit opposite each other at the center of the store, giving the place a more genteel atmosphere, but as always, the focus is on the shoes which still fill the tables and shelves to capacity. While the store is known for practical, comfortable brands like Ecco, Merrell and Mephisto, it is not entirely devoid of fashionable lines. You won't find anyone fighting over the last Louboutin, but Stuart Weitzman, Donald J. Pliner and Fratelli Rossetti get some prime space now, and the store is known for importing lines like Arche from Europe that offer comfort with a bit more style. Still, it is a store that caters to people who need to be able to walk in their shoes, and the merchandise reflects that. The men's side benefits from renewed fashion interest in more traditional men's styles, so brands line the American made Allen Edmonds shine in particular, but the store also offers a dose of quirk with Florsheim by Duckie Broown, Red Wing and Wolverine mixed in among the Tevas and Hush Puppies. Harry's has pulled exactly what anyone could hope fro from a major renovation and expansion like this. It's exactly the store you have come to know and probably love, just better.

Harry's Shoes 2299 Broadway at 83rd Street, Upper West Side
Local Triumph: Longtime Indie Retailer Harry's Shoes Expands Threefold On The West Side


UU Uniqlo Undercover
Gets Pushed To The Sideline

Somewhere between the release of a flashy and fanciful advertising campaign for the Fall seasons and its arrival on the sales floor, UNIQLO's enthusiasm for the final season of its UU Uniqlo Undercover collaboration line evaporated. It's already on sale (see below). It isn't terribly surprising that that the burgeoning chain wouldn't want to go overboard on promotion once it was announced that the collaboration with designer Jun Takahashi would not continue past this season, but even on its launch day, the label was relegated to the atrium side aisles of the Fifth Avenue flagship's mezzanine.
In retail, that's what we call Siberia.
This is in stark contrast to the initial collections which were given prime real estate on the store's main, top floor complete with their own specially designed carpets and display furniture. Now the Fall deliveries, which have barely been on the floor for three weeks, are on sale. While it may just be a temporary price promotion, it looks like UU has not been able to muster up the same kind of excitement as the chain's previous +J label designed by Jil Sander. Even that line was a bit overstocked in the end, mostly due to the opening of an additional two flagship stores last Fall. If you still have a hankering for a last bit of masstige Jil Sander, there is still quite a bit of that year-old collection on clearance at the Fifth Avenue store, and even it has a better location in the store than UU.

It's too bad that the line doesn't seem to have caught on better. It has some great pieces at excellent prices, especially in men's and women's outerwear. And it's launch seems to have encouraged the chain to bring children's clothes back to its U.S. stores. It is now children's apparel that has mostly taken over the mezzanine level of the Fifth Avenue store that was originally designated for the chain's designer collaborations. Uniqlo executives promise that they are working on a new ongoing designer collaboration project, though it is hard to think of a designer who might be available in the way Jil Sander uniquely was. That line probably only ended because, unbeknownst to us at the time, Sander was planning to return to the luxury label bearing her own name. Hopefully, Uniqlo will find s new design partner with her appeal, and they are about to get a better sampling of their American customers' tastes. Next month, the first West Coast flagship store will open after much buildup and fanfare in San Francisco, but next week, the retailer will take a second shot at the New Jersey suburbs with a store opening at Garden State Plaza in Paramus meant to be a template for smaller, suburban stores that will take the brand's expansion to a new level. Having spent many years serving only New York City in America, we will soon see how Uniqlo responds to its customers' demands in other parts of the country.


Sweltering Skepticism Edition

20CRITIC3-popupIt's a little hard to tell what this week's Critical Shopper, Alexandra Jacobs, thinks of the new Proenza Schouler boutique on Madison Avenue. In what has sadly become an increasingly sporadic feature of te Thursday Styles, our shopper uses the opening of her column to take a few unsolicited shots at some other designers who prefer working solo,

In a world of fashion design densely populated by difficult, messy individuals, one can well understand the temptation to team up and clean up, à la Dolce & Gabbana or Viktor & Rolf. You and your partner may not agree on every inch of rickrack, but he’ll probably stop you from alcohol-fueled anti-Semitic rants and affairs with a tanned pornographic-film star half your age.

Ouch. What a way to kick John Galliano when he's not just down but hitting bottom, and frankly, we can't tell if the second jab is for Calvin Klein or Marc Jacobs. It could apply to either, but, hey, no judgement over here.

It's not entirely clear how much our shopper appreciates Proenza Schouler. She compares the brand's popular P.S.1 bag to "something a midlevel male account manager might use to lug his Dell laptop on a commuter flight to Buffalo", but is then charmed by a $3,850 jacket which, it is pretty clear she has no intention of buying. These days it is hard to tell if comparing her flawlessly attentive salesperson to Zooey Deschanel is a compliment. Also, there's an extended Star Trek comparison, so the mixed media metaphors are really flying today. Ultimately, her thoughts are turned to President Obama and health care issues, which would lead us to suggest that if her shopping choices are going to be overly influenced by such political issues, then the Proenza Schouler boutique, and Madison Avenue in general is probably a little too far from her natural shopping turf.

Critical Shopper: On Planet Proenza By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
Proenza Schouler 822 Madison Avenue, Betwen 68th & 69th Streets, Upper East Side


Here's A Look At Hedi Slimane's New Saint Laurent Retail Concept

Ysl-shanghaiWe still don't have an ETA for the new Yves Saint Laurent boutique set to open on Mercer Street in SoHo, but, today, WWD has a look at the first store for the brand designed by its new creative director, Hedi Slimane. Opening on Tuesday in Shanghai, China, the store design (at right) will feature black and white marble, raw concrete and 1930s-inspired display furniture with gold, silver, mirror and glass elements in the decor. From the pictures, it looks suitably Slimane-esque. Expect the critics and fans of the designer's still mostly yet to be unveiled brand overhaul to start commenting on Facebook emphatically any second now. YSL president and chief executive officer Paul Deneve told WWD that this store concept has been "completed, designed and perfected, and is ready for rollout". Presumably, the scheme will be replicated in upcoming stores as well as retrofitted into existing YSL doors, so this is basically what we can expect the Mercer Street store to look like eventually, and probably the 57th Street flagship as well. The article mentions a unit in Berlin as the next store to open in November, and a Paris flagship set for February, but no mention is made of the SoHo store that has been under construction for many months, and sports the newly redesigned Saint Laurent ready-to-wear logo on its plywood covering.

Deneve also reveled a few more details about Slimane's 360˚ makeover for the brand, which has been carefully kept under wraps until the Spring 2013 women's runway show on October 1st.

• For starters, because of new production standards, Slimane's first collections will not arrive into stores until after January 1st, so those expecting late October deliveries for the as-yet-unseen resort lines will have to wait a bit longer.

• Though the designer has revamped the shoe and accessory lines, favorite items like the Cabas Chyc bag and Tribute shoes will continue to be produced and updated for each season.

• Price points have been broadened make the line more accessible to younger customers at the opening level (though in French luxury brands, "accessible" is a relative term) while very special items may command higher prices.

Deneve confirmed that the revamp of the brand was intended to push both the business and the status of the label back to the level of the other two great names of Paris fashion, Chanel and Christian Dior. Naturally, when asked about the possibility of the house relaunching a Haute Couture collection like its rivals, Deneve relied cryptically, “It could be a natural step, but no timetable has been defined,” so translating that from Fashionspeak, consider it a confirmation that at some point in the next few years, Yves Saint Laurent will become a full couture house once again. Make of all this what you will, and start counting down the 10 days until we can finally get a look at the clothes Slimane has designed that will be the lynchpin for this whole enterprise.

Hedi Slimane's YSL Concept to Be Unveiled in Shanghai (WWD)


Renovations Just Might Turn
Macy's Herald Square Into A Store Where You Will Want To Shop

The way things are going, it seems possible that in the future, what we know as department stores will have evolved into giant shoe and cosmetics departments with a sideline in clothes. Every major store in our retail-packed city has recently unveiled vastly expanded shoe areas with the grand behemoth, Macy's Herald Square, having done so this month as the first reveal of its immense renovation that will be taking place over the next couple of years. We, like many New Yorkers, have never been such a huge fan of this particular store. It is huge, obviously, but despite being one of the city's biggest tourist attractions, it has not been kept up to date or even maintained in a way that makes it unappealing to many New Yorkers, who have the luxury of choice and aren't necessarily lured by the store's aggressive promotions. If this new shoe floor, and a recently unveiled fine jewelry department are any indication, however, that's all going to change as the enormous facility finally enters the 21st Century.

Let's be realistic, Macy's will always be packed with tourists, but its newly redesigned sections seem to make more room for everyone while lifting the dreary, fluorescent-lit gloom that hangs over most of the store. The new shoe floor is vast as expected, and very much Macy's. There are no Louboutins here, or Manolo Blahniks, or Brian Atwoods or any other costly brand that Saks, Bergdorf's and Barneys proudly promote, but there are still yet-to-debut sections that will open into the second level of leased shops for both Louis Vuitton, a longtime Macy's fixture expanding its space, and Gucci, a newcomer to the Macy's mix. Who is going to buy their $1,000 shoes? We don't really know. Vuitton's Macy's location is believed to be one of its most lucrative, but it remains to be seen if the hordes who invest in the luxury brand's opening price point items will go for its more expensive shoes. Gucci is entering the fray to take advantage of those tourists and status shoppers as well, but as both departments will be vendor run (as all Vuitton shop-in-shops are, and many of Gucci's are being converted to), they won't be participating in the sales and promotions that Macy's runs. The overwhelming majority of the department's offerings seem to be priced at around $200 or below, with lines like Cole-Haan, which has its own shop, Donald J. Pliner and L.A.M.B. serving as the high end, clustered toward the Broadway side of the floor next to a "Herald Square Café" run by Starbucks and newly exposed windows. Walking through the department, we discovered all sorts of MacysShoeRacksthings. Did you know that the E! Channel has its own line of sparkly shoes? Madonna's Truth or Dare footwear collection looked better than we were expecting, but that may just be in comparison to the sea of chunky sandals and hooflike platform pumps at Macy's. There is a huge Michael Kors section in the center of the floor, but it mainly stocks his KORS and Michael labels with no sign of his premium brand.

The selection is so vast that it seems clear that with a good sense of style a person could still find some good looking shoes at a reasonable price there, but without that sense, they could also go horribly wrong —but perhaps that's the story of shopping at Macy's in general. One spacious section opens up into another and the floor's designers have not entirely neglected the store's tradition of sales and markdowns, and to that end several sections are set off on either side of the floor that seem devoted exclusively to clearance and promotions. Lined with racks, they seem to be permanent sale rooms made to move the merch while keeping the full priced tables free of chaos. We can imagine the kind of frenzy these rooms might whip up on a busy day, but they have been designed to contain it, hopefully.

The big difference here is not only the opened up space which immediately makes the department more comfortable, but also the lighting. In fact, it may be lighting that makes all the difference for shoppers once this entire renovation is finished. Most of the unflattering overhead lighting has been de-emphasized in favor of more directional illumination that draws the eye to the product and also vastly improves the ambiance of the floor. It really creates an immediately apparent feeling of being in a different store which should go a long way to winning over the jaded New Yorkers whose feeling about Macy's Herald Square is somewhere along the lines of "anywhere but there".

MacysJewelryThe difference between old and new is particularly striking in the just-finished fine jewelry department on the main floor. Moved into the arcade that separates the Broadway and Seventh Avenue buildings that once was a fragrance department, the new space has been gutted and fitted with white marble floors, mosaic faced cases and modern crystal chandeliers for a more opulent feeling. We aren't sure if exposed girder columns really work here, but they give the space an odd eclecticism. Again, lighting here is key in transforming the space, and the difference especially noticeable when strolling a few steps over to the unrenovated main floor men's department which feels even more dreary in comparison.

The most dramatic reveal will happen with the unveiling of the main floor of the Broadway side of the store that holds cosmetics and accessories that Macy's exec call "The Great Hall". That will be a long time coming, but bits of it are now visible, and they have already sparked a controversy. Some preservationists have decried stripping of the structural columns of their familiar marble cladding and Art Deco capitals. What they didn't realize however, was that those design elements were not original at all, but were actually added during a 1970s remodel. Compare the new and the old in the picture below. Which do you think looks better? The transition between old and new is so remarkable that it we are looking forward much more than we thought we would for the entire overhaul to be completed. If they have done this well with the few bits that are finished, we can't help imagining how much better the store will look when it is fully refreshed, and we won't be surprised to see a lot of New Yorkers who have written off Macy's Herald Square turn out to give it a fresh chance.


Bottega Veneta, Prabal Gurung, Theyskens' Theory, Kris Van Assche, Missoni, Marc Jacobs, Emilio Pucci, Catherine Malandrino, Jil Sander

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!

Elie Tahari, Kendra Scott, Alex + Alex, M Missoni, Sea Cashmere, Corso Como, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Helen Kaminski, NAS x Andy Warhol, Stuart Weitzman, Issa London, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Chloé Sunglasses, Elizabeth and James, Marc Jacobs Collection Accessories, Walter, L.A.M.B., James Jeans, Kooba, Ava & Aiden, Façonnable, Isabel Lu, Portolano, House of Harlow —join HERE
Calvin Klein Collection, Valentino, Zuriick, Happy Socks, Shades of Grey, Jack Victor, Grenson, Adidas SLVR, Gant Sunglasses, Kris Van Assche, Rogue, Link-Up, Ksubi, Emporio Armani, McManus Bags, Native Shoes, Abito, Tucker Blair —join HERE
Gloster Outdoor, Reclaimed Cleveland, Cloud Nine Bedding, Calphalon, Archipelago, Missoni Home & Bath, Grand Patrician Bedding, Nurseryworks, Bazoongi Play Tents, Little Gilt Apparel & Bedding, Anatex Toys, Safavieh Kids, Antik Batik, Joe's Jeans —join HERE
Vintage Rolex, Catherine Malandrino, Hickey Freeman, Christopher Fischer, C'N'C CoSTUME  NATIONAL, Swarovski, Smith Optics, Pavillon Ledoyen Paris, Tweezerman, Emilio Pucci, Marmot, Gorjana, Omaha Steaks, Hudson Jeans, Gurhan, Theyskens' Theory, Etro/Tod's —join HERE
Paige Novick, TAG Heuer, Kenenth Jay Lane, Moncler, ABS Allen B. Schwartz, Prada, Farah Vintage, Fendi, Gucci, Autumn Cashmere, Bottega Veneta, Chan Luu, Geren Ford, James Jeans —join HERE
Joseph Abboud, London Fog, R.J. Graziano, Belle Fare, Donna Karan for Lenox, Tahari ASL, Jax, Matisse, Marika —join HERE
A.G. Adriano Goldschmied, Sperry Top-Sider, Magasconi, Native Shoes, Pour La Victoire, John Varvatos, True Religion, Wlofgang Puck, Nicole Miller, Onna Eerlich, Toy Watch, Laundry, BCBGeneration, Donald J Pliner, Segolene Paris, Mario Badescu, Mr. Potato Head, Calvin Klein, Façonnable —join HERE
Belle by Sigerson Morrison, Kelsi Dagger, Prabal Gurung, Jil Sander, Yigal Azrouël, Bruno Magli, Kimberly Ovitz, Marni, Pink Tartan, Bass, SWear, 2(x)IST, CREEP by Hiroshi Awai, Creative Recrreation, J Fold —join HERE
Twin Luxe, Korloff, Acorn, Julia Knight, Glycine Watches, Victorinox, A&R Cashmere —join HERE


Gant Goes Galapagos For Spring
By Michael Bastian

Cory - SoulThe Shophound didn't make it into the GANT by MICHAEL BASTIAN show this season, which was disappointing. Maybe they needed the room for a couple of Jonas Brothers. We don't know, but the folks at Gant have tried to make up for it by sending us every possible media material and image from the show from backstage pictures to lookbook shots, product shots and even GIFs. Well who doesn't love GIFs? (Click on Cory at right to see him move). We have shared some of this material with you here, and it looks like another winner for the once limited collaboration line that is now on its sixth season and counting. We can tell that there is tons of stuff here that we're going to pine for until Spring. This time the inspiration was the Galapagos Islands which makes for a sporty, exotic twist on a brand that until now has been mostly associated with preppy classics.
Well, sending us a bunch of picture of Cory Bond might not totally make up for cutting us from the list, but it'll help a little, we guess. Click below to see the lookbook and some more images from the show courtesy of Gant.

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Perry Ellis & Duckie Brown
Make A New Beginning

After the first show this week for their new PERRY ELLIS by DUCKIE BROWN collaboration, designers Steven Cox and Daniel Silver wanted to make it very clear that this was not a relaunch of the Perry Ellis Signature line, but a new brand and a new collection. Still, the designers managed to create an uncanny melding of their own distinctive style and many of the late Perry Ellis's signatures in a way that has real commercial potential to re-establish the designer's brand at the premium level where it was born. The khaki based palette, graph checks and textured fabrics could have been lifted from a vintage Ellis collection, while the sporty silhouettes were pure Duckie. Though the design duo reined in some of their most avant-garde inclinations, they still topped the models with a quirky hat from Albertus Swanepoel, but instead of the colorful, irreverent shoes they are know for, the models were shod simple derby oxfords in natural colored leather. This was one of the shows The Shophound was most looking forward to this week, and we weren't disappointed. We don't know who is carrying the collection yet, but we are looking forward to seeing it in person next season. The fine folks at Perry Ellis sent us a bunch of their own photos from the show which look much better than anything we were able to shoot, so have a look for yourself at some highlights.


Evening Hours With
Reem Acra & J. Mendel
One Last Look At Ryan Lochte

Perhaps one of the most endearingly odd sights of Fashion Week was seeing the crowd outside the tents on Lincoln Center Plaza collectively turn their transfixed gaze to the balcony of Avery Fisher Hall as Zac Posen presented an outdoor runway show on what turned out to be a lovely Summer evening (pictured at left). They could barely see the tops of the models' heads, and probably couldn't tell that Naomi Campell was making a rare runway appearance up there or that a French magazine editor had just caused a scandal and a lawsuit by slapping a PR executive across the face over her seating assignment, but they were more rapt than some front-row celebrities we have had occasion to witness, and many clapped and cheered at the end. It was a charming reminder that Fashion Week still holds a fascination for the folks who generally don't get inside the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents just a few steps away, and that even fleeting glimpses of pretty models in glamorous gowns sashaying down a runway at sunset to evocative music can be a satisfying experience.

Luckily, The Shophound saw more than fleeting glimpses of models in gowns this week, and we don't mind admitting that The Shophound always loves a good show from those designers who specialize in sparkly eveningwear. Unfortunately, because Fashion Week remains so overbooked, we had to skip two of our favorites, Moonique Lhuillier and Naeem Khan, but we did get to catch REEM ACRA and J. MENDEL, which we have had to pass up on occasion in seasons past.

ReemAcraSS2013Designers like Reem Acra aren't usually offer much in the way of surprise, but that doesn't mean we can't be entranced by her show anyway. The fantasy gowns that ended her show may have been her most dramatic pieces, but we are looking forward to seeing which red carpet carries a star in the dresses she showed with nude illusion panels down the sides. It was a sexier than usual look for Acra, and not meant for anyone who has anything less than the firmest of hips and thighs.

JMendelSS2013Among the things a J.Mendel can be counted on for are a cast of the bet available models and impeccable, couture level details. Though the company had been known as a furrier for years, it has been evening gowns on celebrities that have given it the profile it enjoys now. Still, even for spring, touches of fur are worked into the collection, sometimes so subtly that you might not immediately recognize it. Front row V.I.P.s included Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, whose new platinum bob looks sleek and flattering on her in person, adorable Australian singer Sia, and up-and–coming actress Abigail Spencer, who may be best recognized from he stint as Miss Farrell, an indiscreet teacher on Mad Men, but whom The Shophound will always remember from her appearance as an unhinged handbag designer known as 'Blahblah' on one of the funniest episodes of How I Met Your Mother (Episode 03.05, it's worth seeking out).

RyanLochteConnorDwyerAtMillyAfter J. Mendel, we almost skipped MILLY, because we have been cutting out a lot of the contemporary designer from our Fashion Week schedule. To be honest, usually their shows just aren't that interesting, but we were right there at the tents with a ticket, so what's one more show? We are glad we went for two reasons: One was that designer Michelle Smith put on a crisp, athleticwear inspired show that did surprise us by being sexier than anything we were expecting from Milly, and, the other was that we got one more chance to catch Olympian Ryan Lochte in person. He has been working Fashion Week like a seasoned pro, and this time, he brought along fellow gold medalist Conor Dwyer (who appears to have bumped Real Housewife Ramona Singer to the second row and drawn attention away from Tinsley Mortimer which is a favor to us all). Of course, the chance that this experience could turn Lochte into a total douchebag is pretty high, but from what we could see, he was perfectly happy to say hello and take pictures with anyone and everyone who asked. Though he doesn't come across as a brilliant conversationalist, his good natured demeanor makes up for a lot. So does his flawless skin.