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Milwaukee Sitcom Edition

KirnaZabeteNYT-CCIn this week's Thursday Styles, our Critical Shopper Alexandra Jacobs declares Sarah Easley and Beth Buccini of the newly relocated Kirna Zabête to be the Laverne & Shirley of fashion. How the two impossibly savvy retailers will feel about being compared to a pair of madcap 1950s brewery workers will really depend on how they feel about Milk & Pepsi, Boo Boo Kitty, Lenny & Squiggy and Carmine Ragusa, but judging from the circuslike interior of their store's new location, they seem to have a healthy sense of humor. Of course, our shopper may have forgotten that at a certain point, Shirley took off and left Laverne to contend with a rotating cast of sidekicks until the show finally got put out of its misery —a fate nobody wishes on Easley and Buccini who should stick together forever. Their store is quirky, but it's no Milwaukee basement apartment, and our shopper finds that there are pitfalls even for the most ambitious fashion shopper in such a temple of high style,

"Aspirational" pricing aside, the only problem here is that pretty much everything stocked is, as they say in the trade, a statement piece. But in the tourist-mobbed mass market of SoHo, this cacophony of individuality is sweet music indeed.

Of course, if your mind is stuck on "Laverne & Shirley" it may be too much of a leap to get into Céline & Givenchy.

Critical Shopper: Hasenpfeffer Incorporated By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
Kirna Zabête 477 Broome Street between Greene & Wooster Streets, SoHo


ODIN and Albertus Swanepoel Come Together For A Summer Hat Project

OdinSwanepoelimage002Summer is a tricky time for stores in New York. It's to early (and too damn hot) to really sell new Fall goods, and what's left from Spring is usually picked over and marked down. So what's a retailer to do to create excitement? One of our favorite stores, ODIN New York has teamed up with New York's premier milliner Albertus Swanepoel for a special Summer installation. Swanepoel tapped a host of other American designers including Richard Chai, Band of Outsiders, Irene Neuwirth, Suno, Gregory Parkinson, Cushnie & Ochs, George Esquivel and Duckie Brown to create custom designed mannequin heads for which he created unique hats which will be on display in ODIN's SoHo store for the next month or so. Swanepoel's limited edition styles will be available for purchase while they last. A few of them are pictured below, but we suggest getting over to ODIN to see the whole installation in person.

ODIN New York x Albertus Swanepoel, 199 Lafayette Street between Kenmare & Broome Streets, SoHo


Aloha Rag Says... Aloha

AlohaRagClosedWe couldn't resist the headline, sorry, but it looks like Hawaiian-based luxury boutique Aloha Rag has quietly shuttered its doors over the weekend. A note on the door hints that a replacement is in the works, but for now it seems like its address at 505 Greenwich Street may have been the main stumbling block to its success. Sometimes "off the beaten path" winds up being "ignored". While the Hudson Square area remains a destination for restaurants and luxury condos, it is probably too far away from SoHo's retail vortex to benefit from the nearby neighborhood's tremendous foot traffic. Our friends at Racked have discovered that a new store is planned for The Bowery "ASAP", with the street's abruptly cancelled Anthropologie store being a prime possibility. Until that happens, Stores from outside New York can be reminded that if they want to enter the city's retail scene, they should choose their locations extremely carefully.

Aloha Rag Closes on Greenwich, Might Move To Bowery (Racked)


Lord & Taylor's Parent
Buys Saks Fifth Avenue

SaksFifthAvenueAfter a period of time on the block marked by wild speculation (like a merger with Neiman Marcus?) Canada's Hudson's Bay Co. has emerged as the winning bidder for Saks Incorporated, the company that includes Saks Fifth Avenue, and outlet chain Saks Off 5th. The total transaction is valued at about $2.9 billion, and adds Saks to a portfolio at HBC that includes the Canadian chains Hudson's Bay and Home Outfitters as well as New York's Lord & Taylor

HBC beat out several suitors for Saks including icluding private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which was behind the questionable notion of merging Saks and Neiman Marcus which has also been put up for a possible sale, and the Qatar Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund of the Emirate's royal family, whose major retail holdings include London-based Harrod's and Paris-based Printemps.

What does this mean for Fifth Avenue neighbors Saks and Lord & Taylor? The chains are expected to be run as separate entities serving different market segments. The merger will create opportunities for Saks Inc. stores and Saks.com to enter Canada and compete with luxury stores over the northern border like Holt Renfrew, for example, as well as a projected cost savings for HBC of $97.3 million over the next three years. No management changes are expected in the immediate future at Saks, and customers shouldn't immediately notice any difference in the store's operations. Saks CEO Steven I. Sadove announced, “We are excited about what this opportunity and being part of a much larger enterprise can mean for the future of the Saks Fifth Avenue brand,” while HBC Richard A. Baker commented,“This exciting portfolio of three iconic brands creates one of North America’s premier fashion retailers.”Now we can turn our attention to wondering who will wind up owning Neiman Marcus?

Saks Sells Itself to Hudson’s Bay, Owner of Lord & Taylor By Michael J. De La Merced (Dealbook/NYTimes)


Manolo Blahnik, Sandro, Akris, Salvatore Ferragamo, Vilebrequin, Casadei, Paul Smith, Fendi, Zadig & Voltaire, Rachel Zoe, Balenciaga

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!

Akris, Dana Davis, Elie Tahari, Isabel Lu, Sandro, Akribos XXIV, Sam Edelman, Av Max/Gerard Yosca, Vilebrequin, Santos by Carlos Santos, Puma Calvin Klein Collection, Giorgio Armani/Emporio Armani Optical, KidKraft, Baby CZ, Rockabye. MOR Home Scents —join HERE
Manolo Blahnik, Casadei, ASH, Athalon Luggage, CASS Shapewear, Wonderworld Toys, 7 For All Mankind, Kay Unger, TOYWATCH, Matisse, Honeydew Intimates, Barse, Stuart Weitzman, Mauviel, Lilly Pulitzer, Jack Rogers, Safavieh, Honora —join HERE
R.J. Gaziano, Omniware, Balenciaga Sunglasses, Sue Wong, Judith Ripka, Caroline Chu Beauty, Giorgio Armani, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fendi, Wyatt, Brioni, Bogosse, Harrison, Café Bleu, Kenneth Cole, Cohesive, Paul Smith —join HERE
True Religion, Aryn K, Enzo Angiolini, Vince Camuto, Pura Vida, Reef, Stretta, American Crew, Three Dots, Urban Decay, Rachel Zoe, Emerson Thorpe, Parke & Ronen, Junk Food, Saucony, Kosta Boda, Cuisinart, Wolverine Art by Marvel —join HERE
Vivienne Westwood Shoes, James Long, J. Campbell Los Angeles, Donald J Pliner. IZOD, Max Holliday Underwear, Florsheim Socks, Saachi Jewelry, Vintage Shoe Company, Charlene K Jewelry, JB by Julie Brown Dresses, Zuo Lighting, Boska Holland, Granville Rugs, Bed Stu, Original Penguin, Cushe, Muse Dresses, Leigh & Luca Scarves, Kelsi Dagger, RED Valentino Handbags, Stephen Oliver Jewelry, Melissa Shoes, Zadig & Voltaire Honora —join HERE
585 Platinum Jewelry, Calvin Klein Collection, Jacques Lemans Watches, Anolon/Circulon, Daum, ETON, Levi's —join HERE


Miley Cyrus Gets Naked For Marc Jacobs

Fs-miley-shirtIt's not often (or ever, really) that we cover the comings and goings of 20-year-old media magnet Miley Cyrus, but in her efforts to incinerate her squeaky-clean teen superstar image, she has decided to be the next famous body to bare it all for designer Marc Jacobs' charity T-shirt line benefitting the NYU Cancer Institute and NYU Langone Medical Center. Yes, it's naked Miley, and we're expecting a media firestorm to ignite, any minute, now. If you are speedy, you might be able to snag one of these shirts for yourself when they go on sale today at Marc Jacobs stores in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Boston and Savannah, Ga. Don't expect them to last too long on the shelves.

We weren't even aware that Jacobs had continued making this series of shirts, which he started several years ago and has included as subjects supermodels, store staff members, musicians and even the designer himself. It turns out that whenever there is a celebrity in need of attention, Marc is there to oblige. Bless his heart.

Miley Cyrus Bares Some Flesh for Charity T-shirt Campaign (WWD)


U.K. Chain Sweaty Betty
Joins The Women's Activewear Race

With a name like Sweaty Betty, it's clear that England's latest retail chain export intends to be taken seriously when it opens its first U.S. store  at 77 Mercers Street in SoHo next month. The brand was started 15 years ago when founder Tamara Hill Norton found herself frustrated at having to buy sports bras in athletic stores staffed by males who had little understanding of the product. Now the chain is coming to America to take on the phenomenally popular Lululemon and other female-centric activewear stores such as Gap's Athleta as well as attempting to lure women out of the male dominated sports superstore chains and into a more specialized shopping environment. Much like its presumed competitors, Sweaty Betty focuses on workout and yoga gear with generous nods toward running, swimming, cycling, tennis and even skiing, offering its own branded apparel as well as accessories and various other equipment. By October, a second Sweaty Betty will be operating in Greenwich, Conecticut, with more to come. To maintain the store's standards, the company is offering opportunities to staff members of its stores at home to come to the U.S. and run the new locations, and hopefully make it the next coveted women's athleticwear label here. If you can't wait, keep an eye out for the chain's advance teams, which have been holding trunk shows in the Hamptons over the summer and giving away yoga mats, apparel and catalogues. Of course, if you are not that athletic yourself, you can just sit back and watch as the overseas upstart challenges the hometown favorites for dominance in the market for Yoga pants.

Sweaty Betty to Open First U.S. Store (WWD)


Desperately Seeking Shades Edition

NYTcriticalIn this morning's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica blindsided us with the bewildering news that he hates sunglasses. Shocking, but we all have gaps in our expertise somewhere. Apparently, he has only ever bought one pair in his life —which were clearly purchased on a whim and are too flashy to actually wear.

They looked great on the Internet. On my face, they were small and narrow; they look much better in my shirt pocket, or dangling between the second and third button. (Disclosure: I also have a pair of BluBlockers, provenance unknown.)

BluBlockers. Our mind reels. It's like hearing that a Vogue editor has only two pairs of shoes. We could go on and on about how awesome sunglasses are as an accessory, especially in a city like New York —and especially for a journalist. We don't even take ours off on the subway as they allow us to look around and stare at will without anyone else knowing exactly where our gaze is focused. They are indispensable, if only to literally protect one's delicate eyeballs from random flying bits of soot and debris that will inevitably come one's way on a daily basis in a city like ours.

This would have been a perfect opportunity for Caramanica to shop with a friend who is more well versed in eyewear, but he goes it alone to several sunglass specialists. Some, like esoteric vintage sellers Bond 07 by Selima or Silver Lining are entertaining to browse but generally unsuitable for amateurs, and luxe outlets like SoHo's Ilori can be too high style focused for someone who really needs to start with the basics. Speaking of basics, prescription savior Warby Parker also falls surprisingly short on offering a range of sun styles. After hitting nine different stores, he settles on some classic aviators by Randolph Engineering, an excellent, all purpose choice, from East Village vintage store Fabulous Fanny's. We are guessing that he got lucky amongst all the flamboyant antique frames there, but he still has lots of catching up to do. We would suggest he get himself to Oliver Peoples posthaste and not leave until he has at least two more pairs.

Critical Shopper: The Sun Is Beside the Point When Shopping for Sunglasses By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)


2014 Previews From Capsule
featuring Eastland, Yuketen, Gant
& Teva?

The Shophound took our seasonal jaunt through the Capsule trade show yesterday, and though basketball City's unfortunate lack of sufficient climate control kept us from taking a more detailed look at every single booth, there were a few things that leaped out at us as we passed by —mostly shoes, as usual.

One of the first booths we visited was Eastland, where their premium Made In Maine collection continues to offer clever variations on their classic handsewn moccasin styles. New for next Spring is more from a continuing collaboration with popular street style photoblogger Mister Mort who has created a striking mash-up of particularly vibrant Horween leathers. They sit nicely next to Eastland's collaboration with Mark McNairy which features the designer's signature camo-combinations. Over at Yuketen, where we can count CapsuleSS14-Yuketenon designer Yuki Matsuda's unexpeted combinations and daring patterned leathers, we noticed a shelf of simple, classic Italian snaffle loafers in offbeat colors (at right) which suggests that next year's loafer will have the kind of bit across the vamp that Gucci made popular, but with a twist. Eastland has a 2-tone version with a rubber boat shoe sole that'll also be worth saving up for.

Also making an impression were Florsheim by Duckie Brown's metallic silver cap-toes details on several styles and the unlikely return of the Teva sandal.
Yes, the much maligned TEVA.
The folks at Teva will tell you they never went away, but they are about to undergo a re-appraisal as it is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary with a relaunch its original iconic styles in bright new colors that look fresh. You'll be seeing more of them, and you may be surprised how much you like them.

Elsewhere in non-footwear, we saw all of Gant's collections including Michael Bastian's line, the Gant Rugger line and the main Gant collection which is now under the creative direction of Rugger designer Christopher Bastin and will now be available at other stores besides the brand's own boutiques. Bastin has subtly updated and modernized the classic collection and eliminated some of the prominent logos while adding investment pieces like a leather bomber jacket that would make Indiana Jones proud.


Barneys Officially Drops CO-OP Brand
But Still Looking For Downtown Site

BarneysUWS-XXX-AAs we (and pretty much everyone else) expected, Barneys will be removing the Co-op nameplate from the rest of its freestanding stores. While they will all eventually be remodeled to reflect the new aesthetic found in the recently redone former Co-ops on the Upper East Side and in The Grove in Los Angeles, not all of them will be converted to women's-only stores. The Atlantic Avenue store in Brooklyn, for example will retain it's menswear, and the rest of the remaining Co-ops will have their merchandising strategies individually evaluated to reflect their particular neighborhoods. Originally launched 27 years ago in Barneys' Seventh Avenue Chelsea store, the Co-op concept was created as a lower priced, entry level option for younger customers. The newly converted Barneys New York stores will now offer a mix of contemporary brands and more expensive designer labels that  would not have previously been available. “This enables us to flow everything together under the same brand identity and marketing system,” Barneys CEO Mark Lee told WWD.

In addition, Lee confirmed that the chain is still looking for a downtown store, possibly in the 40,000 square foot range. Potential sites in both the World Trade Center and at Brookfield Place retail developments have already been nixed as the chain is looking for space with a street level presence, which suggests that areas like SoHo, the Meatpacking District or possibly TriBeCa are more likely choices. After streamlining the chain by closing several underperforming Co-op and Flagship locations over the past couple of years, Barneys has no other plans for new stores beyond the Downtown Manhattan location.

Barneys New York Unites Stores Under One Banner (WWD)
Barneys On The Upper West Side Is Now Completely Un-CO-OPed