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Boerum Hill Blues Edition

18CRITICAL2-blog427We aren't sure if Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica's look at the WP Store in Boerum HIll in today's Thursday Styles is an expression of his disappointment in the store itself or the neighborhood that surrounds it. That particular Smith Street corridor is where the current wave of gentrification rolling through Brooklyn  originally took root, and yet, our shopper is dismayed that the area, as reflected in the store, is now safe and boring. The WP Store is the creation of Italian Manufacturer WP Lavori in Corso, which licenses and markets upscale sportswear from old-timey labels like Woolrich, Baracuta and Palladium boots and distributes Spiewak, Barbour and Blundstone. By forming retail outlets featuring all of the brands under its umbrella —this is the first WP Store in America— our shopper says the company has created a disjointed store whose whole is less than the sum of its bland parts. "...there’s not much need for adventure here, and there’s not much on offer," he writes "WP Lavori is a store operated by a conglomerate."
Our shopper finds more interesting fare from the non-company owned labels like Engineered Garments and Barena. Apparently the more interesting Mark McNairy designed Woolrich Woolen Mills line, which would seem to be up Caramanica's quirky alley,  has been restricted to the Woolrich Store in SoHo that WP Lavori also runs. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the WP Store has taken over the space once occupied by the much admired Smith & Butler without changing the first piece of decor. The previous tenant was an upscale store that helped make Smith Street safe for less inspiring neighbors like yet another branch of Intermix, but also spoke to the idiosyncratic Brooklyn style that our shopper seems to be searching for. But this is today's Brooklyn. The moment it seems like something interesting is happening, nebulous commercial interests converge and that adventurous spirit moves on, but don't be discouraged. There's still about two thirds of the borough left that has been totally untouched by any kind of coolness, so plenty more ground is waiting to be explored and conquered.

Critical Shopper: A Store in Brooklyn Reminds Men to Take Risks By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
WP Store 225 Smith Street at Butler Street, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn


Gotta Go To
...Some Other Mo's

Midtown fixture Modell's on 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue is getting close to selling its last jersey. The 25-year old fixture's lease is up in February, and it has to vacate its home at 51 East 42nd Street before the rather elegant building gets demolished to make way for the still controversial 65-story, block-long 1 Vanderbilt skyscraper that continues to irk much of the neighborhood because of its immense size. The outsized building's main selling point to zoning boards and the public is that it comes with tens of millions of dollars worth of transit improvements for the Grand Central area —the same improvements that are forcing Posman Books out of its home on Grand Central Terminal's concourse. Modell's will shut for good on December 31st, and though there are nine other branches of the sports retailer in Manhattan, the company is still looking for replacement space near the Terminal where it has had a presence for over 50 years. 

Modell's loses longtime home by Grand Central (Crain's)


American Apparel Has Really Fired Dov Charney For Good This Time

DovCharneyRemember last June when the board of American Apparel fired its founder and CEO Dov Charney?
And then he got some backers and bought up even more stock than he already owned, and somehow got to stay on as a consultant? And then, after all the scandalous disclosures of information about Charney, things seemed to settle down.
Well, Happy Chanukah, Dov! You're fired for good now.

According to WWD, and various reports popping up in the media yesterday evening, Charney has been officially fired for cause, and, to emphasize that fact, a new CEO has been hired to replace him permanently. Paula Schneider, who has held executive positions at major companies like Warnaco, BCBG Max Azria and Laundry by Shelli Segal will be taking over the CEO position on January 5th. WWD's report hints that a deal to allow Charney to have some sort of official, ongoing role within American Apparel may have been under discussion as recently as a few weeks ago, but it apparently went sour leading the company's board to revert back to their original plan which was to get rid of him entirely.

Is it all over for Dov? Probably, but even fired, he is still American Apparel's largest shareholder, and his generally combative nature regarding this issue suggests that he can be expected to be something of a thorn in the board's side at the very least for some time to come. Stay tuned to see how this continues to play out.

Dov Charney's Firing Could Spur Lawsuits (WWD)
SCANDAL ROUND-UP: American Apparel Gains Stability Via Hedge Fund -Charney's Future In Question
See all American Apparel coverage HERE


Last Minute Contemporary Surge With Nonoo, Tanya Taylor, Sachin & Babi
Luxe from Marchesa & More

If last week's Sample Sale offerings leaned toward menswear, this week is the ladies' comeback with plenty of contemporary designer merch available as the showrooms compete with fall sales and Holiday promotions at the city's big retailers. Here's a rundown of the highlights:

It's not all contemporary sportswear as shoe legend WALTER STEIGER officially opens its sample sale to the public for the first time this week. The 2 pairs for $50 specials are probably gone by now, but shoppers still have through Wednesday the 17th to shop the brand's fabled sculptured footwear at deep discounts.

One of the big sales this week is the tri-brand sale featuring JOIE, EQUIPMENT and CURRENT ELLIOTT jeans at 260 Fifth Avenue starting today through Saturday the 20th. This one always proves to be popular, covering the spectrum of the contemporary category from basic tops and jeans to fashion sportswear.

Down the street at 225 Fifth, racy lingerie resource KIKI de MONTPARNASSE is offering deep discounts on intimate apparel and the label's famous "accessories" which are generally not for the faint of heart. Obviously, don't bring the kids.

If you have been watching The Fashion Fund on Ovation, then you will be familiar with up and coming designer and finalist TANYA TAYLOR, whose upbeat and colorful samples and stock from current and past seasons go on sale today and tomorrow in SoHo.

MISHA NONOO, a finalist from last year's crop, is also clearing out excess stock and samples through Friday the 19th. Her sophisticated collection can be found at Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf Goodman &amp Neiman Marcus, and you will find it at the sale at 80% Off.

On the edgier, upper end of the contemporary category, SACHIN & BABI is launching a two-day sale starting today in the Garment District. The sale will also include luxury home furnishings from ANKASA, so you can kill two birds with one stone at this one.

Looking for something a little bit more luxurious and dramatic? Red carpet regular MARCHESA  is offering 65% to 75% off its sumptuous ready to wear for two days at the Starrett-Lehigh building in Chelsea staring on Wednesday the 17th. Don't be put off if you don't have an awards show to go to. The more accessible Marchesa Notte collection will also be included for those who will only be walking on normal colored carpets.

Also on Wednesday, Chelsea Market will be hosting yet another THEORY Sample Sale. We honestly can't keep track of this label's sales, but they are usually worthwhile, wardrobe building events. This one is billed as women's only. Check it out through Sunday the 21st.

For more glamorous eveningwear, get there early for REEM ACRA's two-day sale starting on Thursday the 18th in the Garment District. Her Bridal collection will also be included, so be prepared to fight off a few Bridezillas if you are planning to go.

Finally, for guys who didn't get a chance to shop last week, French sportswear label CREMIEUX is holding a three-day sale in SoHo starting on Thursday. This event is expected to feature up to 70% off the brand's more exclusive, premium label that is found in Europe and in its Mercer Street boutique rather than the moderate line sold in Dillard's department stores.

That's not all, of course. There are also sales from ARMAND DIRADOURIAN, BOCHIC, TER et BANTINE, BYRON LARS BEAUTYMARK, DANNIJO and more happening this week. See our SALE ROLL sidebar at left for details and the inevitable last-minute late breaking sales.


Dolce & Gabbana, The Kooples, Brunello Cucinelli, Giorgio Armani, John Hardy, Giuseppe Zanotti, Bottega Veneta, Jimmy Choo, Alice+Olivia

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!

Dolce & Gabbana, Hunter Bell, Kelsi Dagger, Rebecca Taylor, Salvatore Ferragamo, Prada, Lori Kassin/Karma Jewels, Vince, Tamara Mellon, Bella Luxx, Burkman Bros, Ivory + Mason, Oliver Sweeney, The Kooples, Clapham Socks, Tateossian, Ben Sherman, Frédérique Constant, Just Cavalli, Andrew Fezza, Yves Saint Laurent Homme, Boss Home by Hugo Boss, Ogallala Down Bedding, Sferra, Jaipur Rugs —join HERE
Giorgio Armani, Lole Yoga, Cullen, Ben Sherman, Lela Rose, Golden Edibles, iGourmet, Mauviel, John Hardy, Hickey Freman, Gucci Watches, Current Elliott, Marc New York, Three Dots, Vera Wang Bedding, TailorByrd, Bric's Luggage, Le Mystere, Cuisinart, EPIC Shirtmakers, Sperry Top-Sider Joe's Jeans, Shun, NUW by Shani, Bleu Ribbon Kitchen —join HERE
Prada, Giuseppe Zanotti, Reidel Glassware, Brunello Cucinelli, Bottega Veneta, Salvatore Ferragamo, Burberry, Creed, Sisley Beauty, JImmy Choo, Rachel Zoe, Ray-Ban, Puma Watches, Tom Ford Eyewear —join HERE
Alice + Olivia, Alessandro dell'Acqua, Colette Malouf, Bric's, FATE, Pour La Victoire, Børn, Vince Camuto Collection, Spurr NY, Schott NYC, Blackstone, 7 for All Mankind, Ben Sherman, Nat Nast, Gourmet Sneakers, Porsche Design —join HERE
LeSportsac, Puma French Connection, Vince Camuto, Kooba, Via Spiga, ASH, TailorByrd, Ben Sherman, Timberland, Kenneth Cole —join HERE


Frida Giannini Is Leaving Gucci


Well, from the outside, at least, this is somewhat unexpected news.
Gucci creative director Frida Giannini is leaving the celebrated Italian brand after she shows the label's Fall 2015 collections. She will be accompanied in her departure by Gucci's CEO Patrizio di Marco who is also her partner in life and with whom she shares a daughter.

Giannini can be credited with stabilizing the Gucci brand after the departure of Tom Ford who was in great part responsible for revitalizing the formerly moribund label and catapulting it into fadhion's forefront during the 1990s. Originally tapped as the label's creative director for accessories, she was part of a triumvirate of designers along with Alesssandra Facchinetti for women's apparel and John Ray for men's who were meant to design for the brand. The scheme appeared to be created to send a message to Ford, who had become a superstar himself through his re-imagining of Gucci, that the brand was bigger than any single creative director working for it.
Well, the plan didn't work, and after a few collections of fragmented brand image, Giannini eventually assumed design control of all Gucci product lines and began to implement her direction including new store designs, forging her own relationships with celebrities and starring in The Director,  a documentary about her life and work that came out last year.

So now that she is well settled in and things seem to be running smoothly, why are she and di Marco up and leaving or being asked to move on? Fashion is cyclical, and while business is challenging in the burgeoning Chinese market at the moment, it is also up in key markets like the U.S. —still the world's largest luxury market. Gucci is certainly not experieincing the kind of decline that would cause the team to be fired, but flat performance may seem almost as bad to Gucci's less forgiving corporate owners, especially when smaller less fully expanded brands like Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint Laurent are growing at a faster rate. Giannini and di Marco are not talking about future plans, and probably won't until well after the Fall collections are shown, but their leaving as a team sends speculation that their futures may lie in their own venture. Despite possible dissatisfaction in them from an unforgiving employer, Gianini is now of a stature that would qualify her to start her own label if she so chooses.

The question they leave, aside from who will replace Giannini (diMarco's successor, Marco Bizzarri, chief executive of parent company Kering's luxury couture and leather goods division, has already been named), is can a designer still maintain a long term tenure with a luxury brand that he or she does not own or share a name with? Is Karl Lagerfeld, who has had a decades-long stint at Chanel and an even longer, concurrent one at Fendi, now the anomaly rather than the role model? Fashion's revolving door of designers seems to be spinning at an ever more rapid pace as seemingly solid partnerships like Nicolas Ghesquiere's at Balenciaga seem to dissolve ever more frequently with little advance notice. Is any designer secure at any brand if they don't own it themselves? The expected names of up-and-coming young designers are already being bandied about. Joseph Altuzarra is mentioned in WWD's coverage and already enjoys some backing from Kering. Another name speculators turn to is Riccardo Tisci, who has successfully revamped Givenchy and has been influential in both men's and women's fashion design as well as garnered a strong celebrity and retail following. He is about to unveil a new showplace for the brand on Madison Avenue as his profile has steadily been rising in recent years. Now that he has achieved critical and commercial success at Givenchy is he now ready to jump ship? Will Kering and Givenchy parent LVMH battle over Tisci's contract, re-igniting a longtime Pinault vs. Arnault rivalry between the two luxury conglomerates? Maybe Kering has its eyes focused on someone else entirely. It's worth noting that Gianini was an unknown designer when she assumed her big job only about ten years ago. Perhaps Gucci will find an in-house successor and avoid the kind of job jumping industry ripple effects that just happened when Peter Copping left Nina Ricci for Oscar de la Renta. After all, Gucci's track record seems to be in creating design stars rather than importing them from other brands. There's bound to be more coming from this story, so stay tuned.

Frida Giannini, Patrizio di Marco Leaving Gucci (WWD)


The Pop-Up Flea Returns Today
(Now For Women, Too!)

PopUpFleaLogoAfter a worldwide sojourn taking it from Tokyo to Detroit to London, a favorite New York shopping event, the Pop-Up Flea, returns home this afternoon. This season, the event has grown enough to take over the easily accessible Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea with what looks to be more vendors than ever including, for the first time, some which will offer items for women such as Clare V., Steven Alan and Nova fragrances. Now lady shopping companions will have something for themselves, and guys can take the opportunity to pick up some more Holiday gifts to support the pretense that they are not just shopping for themselves. As usual, there will be lots of vintage items as well as newly manufactured merchandise that meets the particular quality standards of promoters Randy Goldberg and Michael Williams. Regular Fleagoers will recognize popular vendors like Isaora, Red Wing, Tanner Goods and Lotuff as well as some intriguing new additions. The market opens today at 3 and runs through 6 Pm on Sunday, so get you best flannel shirt out and your most carefully weathered artisanal denim jeans and make time for some tasty shopping.
Have a look at the full vendor list and a preview video after the jump

The Pop-up Flea Today through December 14 at the Metropolitan Pavilion 125 West 18th Street between Sixth & Seventh Avenues, Chelsea

Continue reading "YOUR WEEKEND PLANS:

The Pop-Up Flea Returns Today
(Now For Women, Too!)
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SoHo Re-Appraisal Edition

11CRITCAL4-articleLargeIn today's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Alexandra Jacobs returns to the beat with a visit to jeweler David Yurman's new boutique on Prince Street in SoHo —his second in Manhattan— that shows what a difference a new location can make.
For Jacobs, as is likely true with many potential customers, Yurman had been dismissed as a yuppie jewelry designer churning out his signature gemstone studded silver and gold cable bracelets for the uptown set. It is pretty easy to make this assumption as those cable collection classics still get prime display case space in Yurman's counters at Saks and Bloomingdale's, but the designer's latest store showcases a different, more adventurous side of his work. There is an expanded display of the company's men's line, designed by the designer's heir apparent, his son Evan, but it is Yurman's work with less conventional materials that turns our shoppers' head,

While I could well imagine the meditating male machers of Manhattan 2014, stockpiling young Yurman’s chewy leather bangles and titanium tags in between their readings of D.T. Suzuki, Eckhart Tolle and The New York Post horoscope pages, I was inevitably more interested in loot for the gals, like the turquoise torsade necklace ($5,400), very Mermaid Parade, that lurked in staging areas with names straight from Jim Henson in fantasy mode: Labyrinth, Willow, etc.

So was just a simple contextual change all it took to revitalize David Yurman's fashion image? It's probably more complicated than that, but it seemed to be enough to change our shopper's perception, and certainly enough to get us to check out the new store.

Critical Shopper : At David Yurman’s Store, Science Lessons From a Jeweler By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
David Yurman 114 Prince Street,between Green & Wooster Streets, SoHo


Abercrombie's Infamous CEO Retires

Michael-jeffries-WWDIt has been a long time coming, but Mark Jeffries, the embattled CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch has finally bowed out after several years of scandals, embarrassing press coverage and, most importantly, poor business performance. He was announced to be retired this morning according to WWD. The company will be run by a newly created "Office of the Chairman" to be led by newly promoted executive chairman Arthur Martinez and a group of other managers. An executive search firm has been engaged to find a permanent CEO.
While Jeffries can be credited with transforming Abercrombie & Fitch from a dusty classic sportswear retailer to one of the country's hottest retailers for teens and young adults with racy advertising and youthful product design, the backlash set in hard after numerous insensitive comments to the press and reports of unprofessional behavior behind the scenes including giving his partner responsibilities and influence over business decisions without his actually being an employee. Strong business had often allowed Jeffries to deflect criticism, but the company's recent poor performance coupled with renewed criticism of Jeffries' business practices proved to be too much for him to bear.

While Abercrombie's sexy image was what catapulted it to success in the 1990s, its resolute refusal to update and evolve its signature imagery has allowed it to long since fall into self-parody with its shirtless greeters, dark, over-scented stores and male pinup shopping bags. what was once exciting to shoppers has become stale as its third quarter sales fell 12% and comparable sales online and in-store fell 10%, continuing a downward trajectory. Jeffries' public statement regarding his retirement goes as follows:

"It has been an honor to lead this extraordinarily talented group of people.  I am extremely proud of your accomplishments.  I believe now is the right time for new leadership to take the Company forward in the next phase of its development."

Without him at the helm, maintaining his own creative direction and choices, look for some radical change at the chain as it works to shore up its business and re-invent itself for a new generation of shoppers.

Michael Jeffries Out at A&F (WWD)


Apple Finally Picks A Brooklyn Site

After years of breathless rumors about an Apple Store coming to various sites in Brooklyn, The New York Post is reporting that the company has signed a lease at 247 Bedford Avenue at the corner of North 3rd Street for a 20,000 square foot store that will be its seventh in the city overall (not including the presumed Madison Avenue store currently under construction). The company has reportedly been eyeing the space for a year, and as in most of its New York City stores, it will be inhabiting a carefully rehabbed vintage building (a 1930 brick loft structure, in this case) rather than erecting its own modern glass structure according to the 2012 rendering pictured above which was created when the address was being touted as a possible J.Crew location. As is typical for most Apple Stores, nobody involved is confirming anything, and probably won't until a few weeks before the doors are set to open, but the telltale construction (like what is currently taking place on Madison Avenue) will likely be be a dead giveaway.

This confirms years and years of rumors that Apple would be coming to Willamsburg, but as is also typical for the fairly conservative retailer, it waited until the area's shopping was developed enough with stores like Urban Outfitters and J.Crew to support its business before jumping into the mix. There's no word on any projected opening dates, but expect the store to come with the obligatory gloating that Brooklyn has achieved a new height of importance fused with complaints that rampant gentrification and commercialization has ruined Williamsburg.

Apple goes iHipster with new Williamsburg store (NYPost)