Bluemercury Bought By Macy's

In the general scheme of things, it's a smallish deal that could mean big things in the cosmetics industry. Yesterday afternoon Macy's announced that it had purchased exclusive beauty boutique chain Bluemercury for $210 million. The Washington DC-based beauty retailer consists of 60 stores across 18 states including six in New York City with a seventh on the way in Chelsea. The chain's current founders and CEO's will remain in place as the chain is to be run as a separate, standalone entity from the Macy's and Bloomingdale's chains, but the immense corporate backing of its new parent will now fuel the company's rapid expansion.

Industry watchers have compared the up and coming Bluemercury to the still growing beauty behemoth Sephora, whose growth spurt happened after it was acquired by luxury giant LVMH. That's not a totally accurate comparison. Though there is some crossover, Sephora stores, as they are today, tend to center around upscale but widely distributed cosmetics brands and extensive fragrance offerings, while Bluemercury's feature high end treatment lines and more exclusive makeup lines, often with spas attached. A better comparison might be England's Space NK, whose U.S. stores are mostly leased shops within Bloomingdale's locations along with just a handful of freestanding units. In its current state, Bluemercury is not the Sephora-killer that many journalists are breathlessly heralding, but it may just be a threat to Space NK, whose U.S. business is heavily dependent on leasing space within a chain that has just become a sibling to its main competitor. How that will shake out remains to be seen over the next few years. Macy's doesn't really do small, so whether Bluemercury will be transformed into a major threat to Sephora or build up its own somewhat different, more luxurious niche is the question of the moment.

Macy's snaps up beauty brand Bluemercury (Crain's)


Hermès Is Out And Diptyque Is In At Grand Central Terminal

As promised, the Hermès Silk Bar has taken its leave of Grand Central Terminal's Lexington Passage. It didn't seem all that outlandish anymore that the luxury brand might stick around a littler longer, but it looks like the folks there are happy with the strategy of staging pop-up stores in various places art round town periodically rather than opening small permanent stores, so farewell, Hermès. You definitely classed up the joint. 
Francophiles shouldn't feel too bereft, however. The telltale black and white montage of labels in the window tells us that the next resident of the well exposed corner shop right near the Grand Central Market will be popular Parisian candle and fragrance maker Diptyque. No word on whether this is a permanent or pop-up location like its predecessor, but, typically, landlords like permanent tenants, and with its luxurious image but still more accessible price point, Diptyque fits in easily with neighbors like Tumi, MAC and Jo Malone. No opening date has been announced, but it's a good bet that it will open by Mother's Day at the latest if not earlier.

Commuter Luxury: There Is Now An Hermès Store In Grand Central Terminal


Fellow Barber & Shinola Team Up To Give Dad A Father's Day Makeover

Last month it was flowers for Mom, and, now, for Father's Day, Shinola's Tribeca flagship (pictured above) is teaming up with Fellow Barber, the men's mini-chain (originally known as F.S.C. Barber) that is dedicated to the revival of time-honored barbershop traditions including classic cuts and straight razor shaves. In fact there is a barber chair in the Tribeca store right now offering barber services, apothecary goods and more. The event will be running through Father's Day on June 15th, and the special twist here is that it will be available by appointment only, which is a departure from the usual first-come-first-served policy at Fellow Barber's West Village, Williamsburg and SoHo shops. We have been told that Sam Buffa, the company's founding barber whose chair time is extremely coveted by loyal customers, will be among those providing cuts, so this may be a rare opportunity for barber shop enthusiasts to experience his skills without a long wait. Book soon, however. There is only one chair in the store, and you may not be able to breeze in at the last minute for a quick cut and shave.
Click through for full details and appointment instructions.

Continue reading "SHORT BACK & SIDES PLEASE:

Fellow Barber & Shinola Team Up To Give Dad A Father's Day Makeover" »


Get A Free Manicure
At Marc Jacobs All Weekend

Bleecker Street will be a little bit more crowded this weekend as the Marc Jacobs Beauty store will be providing free manicures from Noon to 8 PM starting now until Sunday. See a selection of colors above, and pick the one that suits you best. If Esquire's SoHo Mega-Pop-Up is not your cup of tea, then perhaps this sort of giveaway may be more in your wheelhouse —or go to both! It's the 21st Century after all, and seeing as how Marc is the sort of designer who routinely wears kilts and famously attended the Met Ball in a transparent lace dress, we're pretty sure that a manicure will be offered to any and all comers. 

Free Manicures at Marc Jacobs Beauty through Sunday May 18,385 Bleecker Street at Perry Street, West Village (@MarcJacobsIntl via Racked)


MAC Will Help You Look Just Like Marge Simpson This Fall

Those crafty folks at MAC have always been daring when it comes to teaming up with celebrities. From RuPaul to Rihanna to Barbie, they have been unusually open minded about picking their spokespeople, but we're pretty sure they haven't yet joined forces with a beloved TV Mom —who is also a cartoon character.
That will change this Fall when the makeup company launches a collection dedicated to the iconic animated temptress known as Marge Simpson to celebrate her show's 25th Anniversary. No more details have been released besides the teaser image pictured above, which makes us wonder what kind of products will be available. Tinted moisturizer in that unique shade of yellow? Eyeliners designed to give your eyes that alluring spherical shape? A petrol-blue hair rinse? The mind reels at the possibilities. We'll have to wait until September to see what they come up with, which will give everyone all Summer to think about how we can be more Marge-like.

MAC Planning Collection Inspired by Marge Simpson (WWD)


Scent Of Brooklyn Edition

17zCRITICAL1-superJumboIn today's Thursday Styles, our Critical Shopper Alexandra Jacobs shops for fragrances in the upscale enclaves of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn fwhere the perfume counter at Macy's simply will not do. She finds herself at two fragrance purveyors, Parisian transplant Atelier Cologne and Twisted Lily, whose scents are exclusive and artisanal in that precious way that reeks of today's Brooklyn. Do they sell anything that smells nice? We have no idea. Frankly, perfume shopping makes The Shophound dizzy. Literally. We get lightheaded and nauseated after smelling too many smells, and it looks like Jacobs' patience for such things may not surpass our by much. "In my experience, you don’t discover perfumes in stores so much as covet them on acquaintances, then submit to disappointment as the stuff runs afoul of your own body chemistry," she writes, and winds up with mere bath salts from Twisted Lily.

Atelier Cologne 357 Atlantic Avenue
Twisted Lily 360 Atlantic Ave, both between Hoyt & Bond Streets, Boerum Hill


Birchbox Plans An Outpost In SoHo

In a move that raises the question of how big a web-only store can get without a traditional store, Birchbox, the online beauty and grooming sample service, is planning a permanent, freestanding retail home of its own on West Broadway in SoHo. The company has made an impressive, if unexpected, success of sending subscribers a box of ordinarily free sample products specially chosen to fit their personal profiles every month for a recurring $10 fee, serving as an example of how to create a strictly web driven company. Their subscriber base has doubled to 800,000 men and women, twice what it was last year. The drawback? Though many customers returned to Birchbox to order full-sized replacements of products they liked, other simply went to the drugstore or makeup counter, which was fine with the product suppliers, but limited the site's full sales potential. After testing the waters with a series of pop-up shops in New York City, the permanent Birchox store will offer 2,500 products in stock as well as a B.Y.O.B. (build your own Birchbox) section that will allow customers to choose their own products to fill a box for $15 each. There will be touchscreens with product information as well as abundant product testing, beauty classes and advice available for visitors. Whether or not this will lead to more stores for the company depends on how this first one evolves, but Birchbox now joins Warby Parker, Piperlime and Bonobos as web retailers who have found traditional stores to be too valuable of a sales channel to be ignored. 

Birchbox, Seller of Beauty Products, Steps Out From Web With a Store (NYTimes)


The Dyptique Sale Line Is Totally Insane

As predicted, the line to get into the Diptyque Sale is defies all sense and logic. Our friends at Racked report that paid place-holders started arriving before 5 AM for anxious shoppers who absolutely had to get inside before anyone else. By the 10 AM opening, nearly 200 people were waiting to get inside. Sure, we know that those sweet-smelling French candles are a popular prestige gift, but seriously, we would full price not to have to stand outside for hours for a discount that only hovers around 50%. Time is money, after all. We have to wonder how much some of those shoppers are saving once they pay someone to stand in line for them for 5 hours?
Oh well, The Shophound isn't even that fond of fragrances in general so we will just let the other candle-crackheads let us know how the sale went. Good luck, folks.

Snow Flurries Can't Stop a Crowd at the Diptyque Sample Sale (Racked NY)


Annick Goutal To Displace
Nothing On Bleecker Street

An exclusive French fragrance brand is coming to Bleecker Street, and, in a rare state of affairs, it isn't kicking out another store to do it. Annick Goutal, is opening a store in a 900 square-foot space at 397 Bleecker right next to Bond No.9 that hasn't housed a retail store since the early 20th Century. Up until now, it has been one of a few residential townhouse spaces that have broken up the string of shops on Bleecker. The skyrocketing value of retail real estate on that precious section of Bleecker Street has sparked a conversion of some of those ground floors with more likely to follow. About half of the townhouses there between 11th and Perry Streets have no retail space making a substantial shop-free stretch on the eastern side of the block —but perhaps not for long. You can compare the before (below) and after (above) views and see that the old-fashioned storefront for the shop is actually brand new construction, and it is likely that we will see more similar conversions in neighboring buildings as apartment leases come up for renewal.

AnnickGoutalInviteBack to the new store that is being finished, it is reported to be Annick Goutal's first in the United States. Until now the brand (now owned by Amore Pacific) has been available through luxury stores like Barneys and Bergdorf's (though we vaguely remember a Madison Avenue shop sometime in the 1990s). Copyright lawyers will remember the label for beating a lawsuit from Elizabeth Taylor over the "Passion" trademark in a conflict that ended up legally delineating the difference between the "luxury" retailers who sold Goutal and the mass market chains that would be selling Taylor's brand. Old copyright issuse aside, Annick Goutal will be joining Nars, Diptyque, M.A.C., Jo Malone, Marc Jacobs Cosmetics and the aforementioned Bond No.9 in creating an increasing presence for fragrance and beauty on this particular, ever-evolving West Village strip. The store is expected to open in the Spring and is promising special Grand Opening invitations for those who log on to the Annick Goutal website or scan the QR code on the store's front door (pictured at left)

Annick Goutal (Official Site)


Sales See A Spark Of Life Next Week
With Diptyque & Gant's Warehouse Sale

Image004It has been a quiet time in the Sample Sale Cycle around the city, with a few events here and there, but not the kind of concentrated activity we had been seeing previously. That's about to change starting today, and ramping up next week with a couple of tried and true crowd pleasers. PATRIK ERVELL's seasonal sale started today in SoHo with 90% savings on his Fall collections, and RALPH LAUREN's highly anticipated Home Collection sale also kicked off. Both will keep shoppers busy over the weekend, but it's Monday when local favorite GANT makes an unusual Winter appearance with its first Warehouse Sale. Those of us who have been accustomed to Gant's abundant (and cheap) sample sales were a bit disappointed last Fall when the regular sale was reduced in size and mostly limited to actual samples. It was a bit of a bummer for those non-sample sized shoppers, but our friends at Gant are making up for it starting next Monday with their first ever Warehouse Sale that moves it back to the big room  at 260 Fifth Avenue for a solid week. They are promising 70% off the most recent Fall collections from the regular collection, Gant Rugger and Gant by Michael Bastian collections including the MB leather jacket pictured here which is being reduced from $1250 to $375. It look like a great opportunity to stock up on Bastian's signature skinny cargo pants (also pictured) especially since next Fall will bring his final Gant collaboration collection.

Wait until Wednesday, and you will get a chance to wait in a famously long line to get into the DIPTYQUE Sale at 225 Fifth. There is an ever increasing number of New Yorkers who will go to all kinds of lengths for a discount on scented candles and other fragrance items from the exclusive brand, so plan carefully and leave a lot of waiting time in your schedule.

See details for all these sales and anything else that pops up in our SALE ROLL at left.