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Alternative Ditches The Beach For SoHo

A couple of years ago, as The Shophound was strolling Abbot Kinney in Venice, California, we mused that it would be impossible for Alternative to replicate the ever so specific beach shack vibe of it's hometown flagship store in a place like New York City, and this  month we discovered that they, smartly, didn't bother to attempt such a feat. The new Alternative boutique on Lafayette Street in a space that once hosted Diesel's skater-focused 55DSL brand, instead takes on its own residential, site specific ambiance. This time it's a SoHo loft, but not the white-walled, single rack minimalist version that has become something of a retail cliché south of Houston Street. This is more like the kind of loft someone might live in, dotted with houseplants and featuring exposed brick walls, dark wood floors and even a skylight for just a hint of California airiness. On the racks are the t-shirts and impossibly soft knitted sportswear that has made the brand so popular including in organic cotton line and a collaboration with socially conscious brand Apolis. Of course, Alternative has its own socially conscious mission, sourcing most if its product from sustainable textile resources in Peru, but they don't hit you over the head with it, instead letting the cozy sportswear speak for itself.  Do you need another t-shirt? Probably not, but you might have a hard time convincing yourself of that while you are in the store.

Alternative 281 Lafayette St between Prince & Houston Streets, SoHo


& Other Stories Finds A Broadway Address For Its First U.S. Store

Though it announced the American arrival of COS first, it looks like H&M is giving its other burgeoning chain & Other Stories the premium location when it opens this Fall. The chain will be taking 10,915 square feet at 575 Broadway (pictured above with a logo we added ourselves), the historic building at the corner of Prince Street that also houses Prada. If we are not mistaken, it was also the site of Club Monaco's, temporary women's store last year. The space is on two levels, and stretches all the way to the back of the building, which could potentially allow for a second entrance at 142 Mercer Street like the one Prada has.

While the upcoming COS store at 129 Spring Street will be in a highly desirable location, it is the high profile frontage on Broadway that appears to put & Other Stories on a faster track for growth. The store will find itself one one of the city's most heavily trafficked streets, nestled amongst other big names that will give it maximum exposure not only among New Yorkers, but also the tourists who will be instrumental in bringing reports of the new chain back to other potential markets both in the U.S. and abroad. It is a strategy that has worked well for other imported chains like Sephora, Mango and Desigual, and even the mothership H&M itself. This is not to say that COS is already the stepchild getting short shrift. The chains are differentiated by a focus only on trendier, women's merchandise at & Other Stories and a more sophisticated, minimalist-inspired style at COS which offers products for Men, Women and Children and is currently the only one of the two chains to offer e-commerce in the U.S. The only question now is whether the store is far enough along in construction to to make its Fall opening date? COS was meant to open this Spring, and has officially been pushed back a season, though that could just be a result of the poltergeists and other ghosts said to haunt the location. As far as we know, there is no such supernatural activity at 575 Broadway, but if the site has just been identified, it might take some magical superpowers to have it ready for business in a few short months.

That's a new photo of the site pictured above. We added the logo to the image, so it's possible that & Other Stories has been working on the store for a while under the anonymous cover of plywood

H&M sister label & Other Stories selects Soho flagship location (The Real Deal)


DVF & Opening Ceremony
Anchor The Week In Sales

DVFlookThis may not be the busiest sale week, but there are just enough big names to make some room on the city's most serious shoppers' calendars. Today's big event comes from DIANE von FURSTENBERG (pictured at right) who is returning to 260 Fifth Avenue after a extended hiatus from the Sample Sale frenzy. Expect crowds who have been cultivating some pent-up demand since the last DVF sale a year ago. You can also expect a lot of merchandise, and since the sale will run straight through Sunday, patient shoppers might be able to take advantage of some potential further discounts closer to the weekend if you are patient. Here are a few more events worth making time for:

SHIPLEY & HALMOS has become an increasingly anticipated menswear sale over the past few seasons thanks to good prices if not always the deepest inventory. This week's installment should not disappoint. Look for the brand's Greene Street showroom on Thursday the 29th through Saturday the 31st.

Stay in SoHo on Thursday to check out the OVADIA & SONS sale in their showroom on Broadway. This 2-day sale offers both samples and regular stock, including the twin designers' full assortment of sportswear, tailored clothing accessories and particularly elegant shoes.

On Friday the 30th, the week ends with another of the season's most popular sales, OPENING CEREMONY. This time shoppers will find the 3-day sale on Mercer Street. Expect deep discounts on both the store's signature label and other designer brands from previous seasons. The selection can be on the random side, but bargains abound, often on the final day when prices are usually slashed further.

Keep an eye out for CHRISTOPHER FISCHER, CRUCIANI and EVA FRANCO sales as well. Details can be found at left on our SALE ROLL, and if last week is any indication, there will be more than a few late breaking additions. Next week, get ready for another big RALPH LAUREN luxury labels sale as well as ERNEST ALEXANDER's mens' accessories and the always popular NANETTE LEPORE.


J.Crew To Offer First Women's Collection From Public School

JCrewPublicSchoolMenswear label Public School has won both the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award as well as last year's CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear, and is a nominee for this years main CFDA Award for Menswear Designer of the Year, so you could safely call the label's designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne (pictured at left) the men's fashion darlings of the moment. Taking the opportunity to expand their business, they debuted a women's collection on their Fall 2014 runway earlier this year, but it is J.Crew who will get the honor of selling the label's first women's designs in just a few weeks. As they have in the past few years with CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winners, the chain is once again presenting capsule collections from not only Public School, but runners up women's designer Juan Carlos Obando and jewelry designer Marc Alary, but gentlemen who have been looking forward to picking up a sweet Public School/J.Crew collaboration next month will be disappointed to learn that the chain has ordered only a women's line from the designers, and will be getting the jump on other retailers who thought they would be the first to offer the label's women's wares. Great for J.Crew, but not so great for those gentlemen.

The offerings from all three designers are all available for pre-order right now from JCrew.com.


Vionnet, Robert Clergerie, Field Scout, Paul Stuart, Saint Laurent, Elie Tahari, Milly, Kate Spade, Jack Spade, Loro Piana, Rachel Roy

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!

Cartherine Malandrino, Pour La Victoire, Lulu Frost, ToyWatch, Magaschoni, Vionnet, James Jeans, Kevia Jewelry, Nanette Lepore, Robert Clergerie, Helmut Lang, Original Penguin, Hardy Amies, McCarren & Sons Footwear & Accessories, Paul Stuart, Field Scout, Movado, Black Fleece, PRPS, Harry's of London, GBX Footwear —join HERE
Badgley Mischka, Saint Laurent, Schylling Toys, Yumi Kim, Archipelago, Miz Mooz, BLue Nile, Joyfolie, Waterford Bed & Bath, Cuddledown, Marc Cain, Tolani, Dolce Vita/DV, Tahari, Juicy Couture Swimwear, A. Testoni, Jura-Capresso —join HERE
Gucci Accessories, Hickey Freeman, Lanvin, Treesje Handbags, Ray-Ban, Saint Laurent Handbags & Shoes, Loro Piana, Lekuin Designs, Longchamp, Madison Harding, Salvatore Ferragamo, Burberry, Hickey Freeman, Alexis Bittar, Nicole Miller —join HERE
Rachel Roy, Kate Spade, Pour La Victoire, Lacoste, AG Jeans, Tart, Charles David, CXL by Christian Lacroix, Elie Tahari, Mario Badescu, New Balance, Sue Wong, Amrita Singh, Briggs & Riley, Florsheim, Tateossian, Dsquared2 Swim, Jack Spade, 7 For All Mankind, Cole Haan, Diesel —join HERE
Mason's, Max Holliday, Robert Barakett, Isabella Fiore, Carlos Falchi, Ash, Melissa & Doug Toys, Hello Kitty, PUMA, Cuisinart, Ike Behar, Calvin Klein, Joseph Abboud, Missoni Ties, Rhythm Swimwear, Rogue State, Cooper Jones, Sebago, Tusk Handbags & Accessories, Corso Como, Versus by Versace Watches, LaPINA, Jules Smith Jewelry, BB Dakota, Ben Sherman for Boys, Espalma, Cubavera, Rotenier Cufflinks, Santoni —join HERE
Michael Kors Sunglasses, Alan Payne Men's Shoes, Lancaster Watches, Icon Shoes, Handbags & Accessories, Milly, Camp Chief, Rogue, Kaiser, Ferrari Store, Yumi Kim, Façonnable, Mauboussin, Loloi Rugs —join HERE


Abercrombie & Fitch To Become
A Lot Less Like A Gay Bar

One of the reasons you are even reading this blog is because one of our early posts likened the Abercrombie & Fitch store on Fifth Avenue to a gay nightclcub. 
That one went viral and played for a while, and several years later, it still seems like an accurate assessment of the boilerplate Abercrombie aesthetic (if we do say so ourself). That's all going to change, finally. Bloomberg is reporting that since the chain's sales, and those of its sibling Hollister, have been dropping faster than American Idol's ratings, management has finally decided to turn down the blasting music, brighten the lights, open up the shutters on the windows and start experimenting with revolutionary ideas like window displays, larger size ranges and, for the first time since the chain was transformed in the 1990s, selling clothes in the color black. Even the noxious perfumes that are atomized throughout the stores are expected to be substantially reduced —though, sadly, not eliminated altogether.
Baby steps.

Why all the adjustment now? The chains' sales have dipped before, but there was no rush to respond to customer pressures in the past from Abercrombie. It turns out that the impending changes in the stores reflects a hard won victory in the boardroom for activist investors who were finally fed up with Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries' autocratic management style. Essentially, since he took control of the company, he has personally dictated nearly every detail of the stores' operations and merchandising. His likes captured the target market's attention at the beginning, but like any group of consumers, they eventually moved to other, newer, shinier things. Jeffries resisted any major changes in strategy, and shrugged off complaints that became high-profile public issues ranging from sizing to diversity in hiring, much to the concern of stockholders who saw their once unstoppable stock holdings decrease in value in the face of competition from the H&Ms and Forever 21s of the world. Finally, the board stripped Jeffries of his chairmanship and has forced him to name presidents for both chains as well as a new CEO for the company that is not himself. Jeffries was almost pushed out altogether until he negotiated a truce last month with the main activist investor, Engaged Capital LLC, resulting in his demotion and the naming of four independent members to the company's board.

What all of these boardroom battles have resulted in is what is expected to be a noticeably different atmosphere in Abercrombie and Hollister stores over the coming months. Do you like those beefcake pictures on the walls? Take a long look, because they are headed for the dumpster. Shoppers can expect to see smaller logos, a larger size range and generally freshened up product offerings in the coming seasons —and they will actually be able to see them since brighter lighting is a major part of the store makeover plan. All of these changes at Abercrombie and Hollister are long overdue, but we have to admit that we will miss the idea of having an analog of a gay discothèque in every mall in America. The question that remains is: Now that the stores' tired attributes are being jettisoned, will they be replaced with anything exciting enough that will bring those free-spending teens back through their doors?

Abercrombie Tones Down Nightclub Vibe to Win Back Teens By Lindsey Rupp (Bloomberg via The Cut)
What, No Drink Tickets?: Abercrombie & Fitch (5.12.2006)


Altuzarra Meets Target This September

AltuzarraTargetIt's been a few weeks without a designer collaboration announcement, but just as things are slowing down for the Memorial Day Weekend, Target has announced its next big team-up: Joseph Altuzarra (pictured at left).
Don't make plans for September 14th if you are a fan of the young designer. That's when his 50-piece collection will hit Target's stores and website, and, in what appears to be an ongoing international arrangement, Net-A-Porter. As usual, details and previews will be carefully doled out over the Summer leading up to what is likely to be a glittery launch timed to coincide with Fashion Week. The first tidbit is a sketch of a swiss dot dress (pictured below) of which the designer says, "I designed this beautiful, elegant full length dress as part of the Altuzarra for Target collection to add a sense of glamour to the collection. I envision women wearing this dress to special occasions and feeling confident, sexy and sophisticated." Prices will range from $17.99 to $89.99 for apparel and lingerie, and $29.99 to $79.99 for shoes and accessories.
After the sketch, check out a sexy teaser video for the collection

Target and Altuzarra Announce Fall Collaboration (Target Pressroom)
This Sketch from Altuzarra for Target is Everything (A Bullseye View/Target Blog)


Ersatz Safari Chain Edition

22zCRITICAL4-superJumboIn this week's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Alexandra Jacobs goes to not just any Banana Republic, but the tourist packed flagship in Rockefeller Center. After a cursory history lesson tracing the chain's history from quirky, independent surplus reproduction shop to Gap-owned mega-chain, our shopper admits that she hasn't visited any Banana Republic store in a decade, and proceeds to show how little she has missed in the intervening years. Most pointedly, she is rightly alarmed by the preponderance in the store of short white shorts — at best a tricky fashion choice for most women even at the height of Summer,

...white sateen Bermuda shorts, white dry-clean-only eyelet shorts, white sailor shorts, white shorts cheekily embroidered with tiny crabs, like some late-1970s venereal disease ... wait, no, those were palm trees."

Not tempted by a deeply discounted leftover from L'Wren Scott's Holiday collaboration with the chain, Jacobs chooses to wait for newly appointed creative director Marissa Webb to have some some, hopefully rejuvenating, effect on the chain's offerings, or at least until the upcoming Roland Mouret collaboration hits stores. We get the sense that, aside from the tourists keeping the registers ringing at Rockefeller Center, she is not alone.

Critical Shopper: Is There a Coup Underway? By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
Banana Republic 626 Fifth Avenue at 50th Street, and at malls everywhere


Apple In, VBH Out On Madison Avenue

940-madison-avenueAfter covering most of the city's other main shopping neighborhoods, it looks like Apple has finally found the right spot to service the Upper East Side's computer customers. The V.B.H. boutique at 940 Madison Avenue at 74th street is about to become Manhattan's sixth Apple Store, and one of its most elegant. No official announcements have come from the company, but as with the Grand Central Terminal store, construction permit applications from Apple's favored architecture firm have confirmed the past few month's rumors. While the exterior is not expected to change —it is protected by being in the middle of the Upper East Side historic district— the gallery-like, Peter Marino designed interior of V.B.H. is expected to be demolished. The building began its life as home to the U.S. Mortgage & Trust Co. and more recently, housed home furnishings brand Mackenzie-Childs before becoming V.B.H. about a decade or so ago. Part of the building is also occupied by jeweler David Webb. There's no word yet on whether or not it will stay put, or have to find yet another new location of Apple takes over the entire building.

This leaves us with the question of exactly what is to be come of the soon to be vacating V.B.H.? Started by Valentino alum Bruce Hoeksema, it was positioned as an uber-exclusive luxury brand featuring lavish precious jewelry and exotic handbags and accessories presented in a discreet but opulent environment across the street from the Whitney Museum. Bergdorf's and Neiman Marcus were wholesale clients, but the brand's recent clearance sale at Soiffer Haskin featured an alarming abundance of handbags, and the brand's website appears to be defunct. Will V.B.H.'s exit from Madison Avenue be its final exit, or is it simply shedding some increasingly expensive overhead? Time will tell, but in the meantime, Upper East Siders can look forward to a more convenient location for the nearest Genius Bar.

Apple Store to open on the Upper East Side (NYDN)


Super Sale Tuesday with
Michael Bastian, James Perse, Tibi
Maison Kitsuné, Hudson Jeans & More

The Shophound thought that the sample sale scene looked a little quiet this week, perhaps owing to the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend, but then, yesterday, a whole ton of sales were announced at the last minute, so there's still plenty of shopping action to keep you spending happily (Aren't you broke yet? No? OK, carry on).
By now, the PIAZZA SEMPIONE sale on West 57th Street will have been packing them in for a couple of days, but there should still be enough sophisticated Italian sportswear to keep them going until tomorrw, its last day. More highlights for this week include...

Since he took full control of this label a couple of years ago, MICHAEL BASTIAN has not held a sample sale of his own that we know of, until today. For the next couple of days, Bastian's West Chelsea showroom will be offering merchandise from current and previous seasons. We have no precedents for this one, so what will be offered and at what discount are something of a mystery. Plenty of the city's most stylish men have been waiting a looong time for this one, but they will be familiar with the location since it's in the same building Thom Browne calls home and where we used to find Simon Spurr. Expect a crowd. Bastian's signature label is substantially more expensive than his Gant collection, so prepare to spend. Ends on Wednesday the 21st.

Ladies with a taste for bold, graphic dresses and sportswear will be headed to SoHo today for designer Amy Smilovic's TIBI sale at 57 Greene Street. The event promises runway samples and one-of-a-kind prototypes along with regular stock and accessories from current and past seasons. Through Thursday May 22.

Also today, JAMES PERSE will offer an excellent opportunity to stock up on his famous tees and casual wear for men and women for the Summer at 260 Fifth Avenue with reductions starting at 50% to 75% off. We got a preview yesterday, and fans of Perse's lounge-y L.A. style should be pleased. There was a ton of merchandise including racks and racks of his famous tees, this time arranged by style and color rather than size (as pictured above). The majority of the merchandise was for women, but there was still plenty there for men. See preview photos above and below including price lists.

If that's not enough to choose from, HUDSON JEANS will also be offering discounts of up to 70% off on women's and men's denim just a few steps away at 225 Fifth Avenue. Ends Sunday the 25th.

Another last minute addition, WANT AGENCY will be offering savings on its popular brands through Friday on the Bowery including WANT LES ESSENTIALS de la VIE bags and accessories, NUDIE JEANS, MAISON KITSUNÉ, SWIMS and ARC'TERYX VEILANCE. Be warned that apparel offerings are usually sample sized only at this sale, but if you can fit them, there's always great pieces to be had.

And that's just what's opening on Tuesday.
Wait until Wednesday the 21st for luxury designer womenswear on the demure and elegant side from LELA ROSE and with a glittery, red carpet point of view from NAEEM KHAN, who will also be offering jewelry from RANJANA KHAN as well as some MANOLO BLAHNIK runway shoes in model's sizes (the one category where they are typically larger than average).

Keep an eye on our SALE ROLL at left for details and updated information and what is sure to be another ton of last minute additions to the schedule.
Next week, DIANE VON FURSTENBERG and OPENING CEREMONY should keep everyone busy for a bit.