No News Is Bad News
For Steve & Barry's

Moretroublesandb Things are not looking bright for Steve & Barry's. As their deadlines approach, it's looking less likely that the attention-getting chain will find a partner to keep it running, or even be able to sell the chain which reaps an estimated $1 Billion a year.
WWD reports that while there are still investors interested in retail opportunities, they are not willing to take a chance on dissed businesses like S&B. As a privately held company, Steve & Barry's is under no obligation to disclose anything about its current situation, and they have reportedly been talking to possible suitors, but nothing has been confirmed. Terms like liquidation are being tossed around by the press, which doesn't help matters. What this means for the high profile stable of licensed brands like Stephon Marbury's Starbury and Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten is uncertain, depending on whether the chain is actually sold, and the terms of the celebrities' contracts, which can be very strict.
Here's what we do know: Nobody should be waiting to see a Steve & Barry's open on Broadway & 4th Street anytime soon... if ever.
Why does it matter? For starters, if the chain fails, it will be one of the most stunning flameouts in recent retail memory, affecting not only the company's principals but also the many stars with whom they have gone into  business. On anothe level, a lot of people need inexpensive close, and you can do a lot worse than Steve & Barrys. It could be a great disappontment for a growing customer base that will be left high and dry.
Steve & Barry’s Squeeze: Without White Knight, Liquidation a Possibility (WWD)

Business Update:
Steve & Barry's On The Ropes

It's the same old story: Too much too soon.
Newly high profile retailer Steve & Barry's may be vanishing as quickly as it came to our attention.
Wasn't it only weeks ago that they announced the seemingly unstoppable chain would take over the former location of Tower Records at Broadway and West 4th Street? Now it seems unlikely that a store will appear there anytime soon, as Steve & Barrys has retained the services of Conway, Del Genio, Gries & Co., a restructuring firm specializing in turnarounds while Goldman Sachs Group scrambles to scrape together $30 million in emergency financing to cover a string of unpaid bills that are just coming to light.
Things are looking dire for the company that gained notice when Stephon Marbury chose them to launch a line of affordable branded clothing, and later went mega-huge nearly overnight with the publicity from Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten line. A string of other celebrity endorsed and designed collections followed including efforts from Venus Williams, Amanda Bynes, surfer Laird Hamilton and golfer Bubba Watson.
Steveandbarryswest4th The problem? Those low, low prices everyone loves so.
Despite growing their volume to nearly $1 billion, their profit margins are still so narrow that the chain was unable to properly finance its rapid expansion plans leaving local contractors, advertising bills and even some longtime vendors unpaid. There are rumors that the retailer may have to file bankruptcy as early as next week.
Will Steve & Barry's vanish from the public's consciousness as quickly as it appeared, leaving its stable of celebrities with egg on their collective face?
Stay tuned. this story is developing.
Steve & Barry's Hits Trouble: Hyped Clothing Retailer Hires Turnaround Help (Wall Street Journal)
Steve & Barry's (Official Site)

Endangered Sites:

Kate Spade Horning In
On Bleecker Street

Yeah, what a surprise...
It's no secret that hardly anyone can afford to renew a lease on Bleecker Street these days. The expulsion of its classic tenants continues like some sort of ruthless ethnic cleansing intent on bringing national brands to cluster on what is essentially a small, West Village neighborhood street.
The latest corporate interloper is the Liz Claiborne Inc. owned Kate Spade, a brand that not only has two other stores in Manhattan already, but like so many of the street's latest additions, is long past the moment when it had any semblance of hip newness or fashion clout. According to our friends at RACKED, the store's address will be at 400 Bleecker, which is currently shared by both the Eve Salon and the Biography Bookshop, but we don't yet know which store is getting the boot. Sadly, our guess goes with the bookshop, since, as a longtime Bleecker fixture, it would follow current form for them to be unceremoniously expelled, and, frankly, having been there for a long time, they would be most likely to face a drastic rent hike. It's also in the kind of corner shop space at West 11th Street that other retailers covet shamelessly. It would be doubly sad to lose yet another independent bookstore, an endangered species, but if forced to move, perhaps they will be able to take some of the newly emptied space on nearby Hudson Street.
We will have more news when we know exactly where Kate Spade will be setting up shop.
Storecasting First Word: Kate Spade Bags Bleecker St Space (RACKED)

Disturbing Runway Trends:
Milan Menswear Edition

Sometimes there's nothing more entertaining than watching fashion designers take leave of their senses. Of course, The Shophound has not gone to Milan for the Men's Collections, but we can see enough on our trusty computer to enjoy one of our favorite pastimes: picking out the ridiculous outfits that nobody will ever wear.
Above, please find a selection from Roberto Cavalli, who after a few subdued seasons, has returned to his usual flamboyance with a vengeance, and a trip through a Pat Benatar video.
Is it time for tight, fancy patterned pants again?
Will it ever be time for tight, fancy patterned pants?
Only if you are Pat Benatar.
Here's Prada. Last season (or this Fall) they gave us halter vests and little pleated tutus for men. This time, it's the equally dubious contribution of waist cropped tops and open jackets suspended from straps to create a deep V portrait neckline, offering glimpses of various sections of a hairless torso. One doesn't have to think too hard to see the perils of such a look on the even slightly less toned and more hirsute. Evidently, jackets will be largely worn without shirts next year. It's always important to remember that what Prada sends down the catwalk is generally barely represented in even its own stores by the time the actual selling season rolls around. If you are wondering who is actually going to wear these clothes, don't bother. most of them will never be produced.
It is clearly the season of the Torso, and here's Emporio Armani, also implying that shirts will be thoroughly superfluous next year. FerragamorunwayThankfully Mr. Armani has kept to his tradition of using models who though waxed within an inch of their lives are at least old enough to drink legally and clearly know their way around a gym. Get to work on those crunches, because a flabby midsection will never look right with those shiny culottes everyone is sure to be sporting next year.
It seems that nobody is immune to the temptation to use silly runway accessories.
Even the usually understated and conservative Salvatore Ferragamo felt compelled to finish off their looks with strands of beads or braided velvet.
Not girly looking at all.
Oh, and then there's the jumpsuit in the middle there.
Always good to see what we won't be wearing next year.

Predictions Gone Wrong:
Tailor Turned Out Of Chelsea Hotel

BalabanistailorA good tailor is hard to find, and apparently there will soon be one fewer in Manhattan.
Last year we did an informal survey of the remaining businesses in the Chesea Hotel, wondering which were most in danger, and which might survive.
We guessed that the tiny Balabanis Tailor shop might have been so small that it could escape persecution from a landlord clearly focused on maximizing his new building's earning potential.
Since then, we have seen little activity, but sadly, Living With Legends, the Hotel's own blog, tell us that the tailor shop will be shuttered after 21 years in the spot as Mr. Balabanis has chosen to retire to Greece rather than signing an unfavorable lease renewal.
It's worth noting that the space that once housed Capitol Fishing Tackle remains empty.
After 21 Years at the Chelsea Hotel, Say Good-bye to the Balabanis (Living With Legends)
Previously: Endangered Sites: Chelsea Hotel Edition

As A Designer, She's A Great Singer: Beyoncé's Mini-Hoochies

Dereonkids_2 We love Beyoncé. We really do. We think she's a fabulous multi-talented diva who's gorgeous and seems like she might actually be a halfway nice person. We always figured that the whole "House of Deréon" venture was sort of a gift for her stylist mother to keep her busy.
But seriously, what the hell kind of kids' clothes are these?
We all know that little kids love to dress up like grown-ups, and they like to pretend that they have a grown-up job.
It's just that there are some jobs perhaps they shouldn't be encouraged to emulate, like the ones that pay by the hour vs. the whole night.
A good rule of thumb: Nobody should wear high heels until she is at least able to read without moving her (hopefully lipstick-free) lips.
Same thing goes for false eyelashes.
Ads For Beyonce's Children's Line Are Promoting Itty-bitty Hoochie Mama (5 Blogs Before Lunch)

Florent Update: Site Officially On The Market

2008_02_florent_aFor the record, we are way more upset about this than we were about Jerry's.
Sadly, we have no encouraging news to report on this story. Our friends at Eater are keeping us updated on the fate of beloved Meatpacking District bistro/diner Florent. While owner Florent Morellet continues to battle his landlord in court over tax issues,  the Winick Group is officially listing the space for a jaw dropping $700,000 a year starting in May. That's a big jump from Florent's current $6K a month, but as Earter speculates, it's also way beyond what another casual restaurant could pay and operate profitably. It is likely to go to a high-end boutique, however, this is not necessarily the best spot for a designer shop. Other restaurant spaces a few doors down appear to remain empty, and it's just off the beaten path of 14th or Washington Streets. Of course, adding insult to injury, a designer boutique would more than likely do away with the entire vintage metal "R&L Restaurant" facade, an integral part of Florent's charm.
We're rooting for you Florent.
Keep fighting!
Florent Watch: Restaurant Officially Being Shopped for $700K/Yr (Eater)

Florent Update: Future Murkier for Much-Loved Restaurant

Bastille_3 The news on Meatpacking District institution Florent restaurant is not looking promising. The Observer and Eater have the latest updates. Apparently owner Florent Morellet and his landlord have been in a long running dispute over tax issues and are now in court. There is a little more to the story than just a lease expiration, though the tenacious restaurateur point out that the newer higher-rent-paying businesses in the area haven't necessarily been hugely successful:

“It’s funny because that block looks more and more like it did when I opened 23 years ago; it’s very gloomy,” he said, laughing. “Maybe the little doll that I have with all the little needles in it is paying off.”

Perhaps this is the secret to his success?

Will Meatpacking Pioneer Have to Pack It In? (The New York Observer)
Florent Watch: Morellet Goes to Court, Faces New $70K Rent (Eater)
Previously: Disturbing Real Estate News: Meatpacking District Pioneer Florent to be Ousted?

Fortunoff On The Rocks...And We Don't Mean Diamonds

Fortunoff57th Fortunoff is reportedly considering its options for the future which could include Chapter 11 reorganization. On the heels of opening a new Manhattan store, the company has apparently, stopped paying its bills. The retailer has been making efforts to polish its image lately, but the results have apparently missed their mark. Those familiar only with Manhattan's jewelry-focused branch wouldn't realize that their larger Long Island stores carry a much more varied merchandising assortment including home furnishings and housewares.
We were a little tough on Fortunoff's new West 57th Street store, but in hindsight, we can see a clearer picture of why so many corners were glaringly cut in that particular case. We saw Fortunoff as a valid, local business that needed some good guidance to update its image, not necessarily one that was totally irrelevant and ready to be euthanized. Hopefully they will weather the storm with some strong fiancial backing and direction. We don't think they are ready check out just yet.
Fortunoff Said Considering Financing Options (WWD)

Disturbing Real Estate News: Meatpacking District Pioneer Florent to be Ousted?

2008_01_florentFrom our friends at EATER comes the upsetting news that Florent, a beloved West Village institution and one of the first upscale (yet affordable) retaurants to brave the Meatpacking District is in serious danger of losing its lease to yet another exorbitant rent hike.
Florent opened in the mid-1980s when the neighborhood really was home mostly to meat packing plants and, of course, tranny hookers.
The all-night bistro lured adventurous diners and weary clubgoers alike, and has become a landmark of sorts in the neighborhood. Even as the area transforms, it can easily be argued that greedy landlords should thank tenacious owner Florent Morellet for bringing customers their way instead of punishing him for getting there first. We are quite sure that for years, the only reason many New Yorkers even knew the location of Gansevoort Street was because of Florent (or to find a tranny hooker, but that's another story of things vanished from the Meatpacking District). For his part, Morellet tells EATER that the doors have not closed just yet:

The timing of a closure is still unclear, even to Florent owner Florent Morellet, who we reached by phone today [Thursday 1/24]. He says, "I can't tell you [when we'll close]. Nobody will know until the fat lady sings, as we say. I'll fight with the last bone in my body."
"The rents are high in the neighborhood. Like I've said to a lot of people, I'm optimistic because I believe the world economy will collapse and so might the real estate prices in the neighborhood. Maybe people will get down to reality and realize that the sky's not the limit. We don't know. We'll know down the road.  It's not closing yet.  Not at all."

Various reports have the restaurant's lease ending at the end of March or May with the lease being shopped around for as much as $70,000 a month. OUCH!
Morellet, true to form, is fighting to stay.
Anyone organizing a "Save Florent" campaign can sign up The Shophound
SHOCK CLAIM: Florent Restaurant to Close This Year? and Florent Watch: Owner Confirmed, March 31st Earliest Closure Date (EATER)