With little fanfare, Saks Fifth Avenue has shuttered its much ballyhooed Brookfield Place Women's store. Last Saturday, January 5th, was its last day of business, and shoppers were not exactly swarming.
Saks spokespeople are now calling the store a "test concept" that proved in its just over two-year lifespan that Saks shoppers prefer a full line department store environment like its immense Fifth Avenue flagship over a smaller, more curated boutique-like assortment. Other observers might note that store's location within the revamped luxury shopping complex was far from optimal, set off from the main clusters of shops through a long corridor that hid it from view. Meant to be a big-name anchor, it was completely invisible from Brookfield Place's signature grove of palm trees and the popular Hudson Eats and Le District food areas.
Others might note that the closure is a signal that the Financial District's potential as a luxury shopping hub may be more limited than real estate interests would have had us believe when the neighborhood was being re-developed after 9/11. Many skeptics questioned whether even New York City could support yet another concentration of luxury stores in addition to traditionally tony areas like Fifth Avenue in Midtown, Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side and SoHo. As designers seemed to flee the relatively new Meatpacking District/Bleecker Street enclave which once seemed like a promising destination, it was hard to imagine that customers of such means would now flock to the Financial District, a problem the location faced when it originally debuted in the late 1980s as the World Financial Center.
At that time, the anchor store was the first branch location of Barneys New York, a men's only store. With that in mind, it is not so surprising that while its women's store is closed, Saks is keeping its Brookfield Place Men's Store open for the foreseeable future. The Financial District has always been seen as more hospitable to men's retailers with its namesake local businesses known for an employee base packed with highly paid men who didn't mind expressing their success with luxurious wardrobes. While those business now include more women, they are still known as boys' clubs, and it's worth noting that while the Saks Men's store is staying open, SuitSupply, the breakout menswear retailer from Amsterdam, is tripling the size of its Brookfield Place branch in a section of the complex that also includes Paul Smith, J.Crew and a Club Monaco Mens Store.
So far, the other luxury retail tenants at Brookfield like Hermès, Bottega Veneta, Salvatore Ferragamo and Gucci, appear to be staying put, though most of them operate much smaller units than their Midtown flagships. It will be more interesting to see how they continue to fare as shoppers turn their attention to more exciting, newer shopping arrivals like the city's first Neiman Marcus store in the wholly manufactured Hudson Yards neighborhood set to open this Spring, or the city's first full line Nordstrom which will complete its mega-flagship's opening this Fall. One has to wonder exactly how many high end shopping destinations Manhattan can be expected to support?
Today, our friends at RACKED published their final post. In the future, its content will be absorbed by "The Goods" by Vox, the media property that acquired the websites created by the Curbed blog network a few years ago. Racked's demise tells us something about the state of fashion blogging at the moment. The Shophound was already around when Lockhart Steele and Ben Leventhal, two of our earliest, key supporters, developed Racked, and we were among its first contributors. At that time a small blog could make a big impact very quickly, and one with Lock and Ben behind it could make a bigger one even faster. It was, in some strange ways, counterintuitively gratifying to have our original blog concept validated by a competitor/colleague.
Times have changed.
While we admit that The Shophound has not been at its most fastidious in posting recently, it must also be noted that the blogging landscape has evolved. Especially when it comes to topics like shopping and fashion —our own wheelhouse— things seem to have migrated toward YouTube and Instagram, media platforms which, while certainly entertaining, don't really suit The Shophound the way they do other "Influencers". It's just not our bag.
And that's OK.
Things change. It's the nature of the universe.
While we have slowed down our blogging activity, we aren't quite ready to throw in the towel just yet. There are still things that compel us to get a keyboard under our fingertips like the impending arrival of Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus to Manhattan, or the or the seemingly inevitable departures of Lord & Taylor's grand flagship and the beleaguered Henri Bendel from the very same borough.
We're just here to say a fond farewell to Racked. It was great to share that big blogging moment with you way back when.
After what has been decades of re-positioning and revamping, the erstwhile paragon of New York chic, Henri Bendel, will be closing its doors by the end of January. All 25 locations of the retailer will be shuttered by parent company L Brands including the Fifth Avenue flagship.
Anyone familiar with the store's most recent incarnation may wonder why it was constantly referred to as "Legendary", but up until about 10 years ago, Bendel's was still among the leading fashion retailers in New York. Its most vital period occurred from the 1960s through the 1980s when it was run by Geraldine Stutz, a luxury merchant who was something of a legend herself, responsible for introducing many a young designer to her influential customers including names like Stephen Burrows, Sonia Rykiel and Barry Kieselstein -Cord among many others. Having an in-store shop or even a dedicated counter at the original store at 10 West 57th Street was considered a coup in the industry. Stutz eventually acquired the store herself, and then sold it to The Limited in the mid-80s. Upon her retirement, Bendel's was moved to it's current, larger flagship on Fifth Avenue in the restored Coty Building, uncovering a forgotten set of Lalique glass windows that prompted the city to designate the building a landmark. Attempts by its owner to expand into a luxury chain to rival Neiman Marcus or Saks failed, as management revolved through the single-store retailer with varying results and responses from the fashion community and shoppers. Finally, in 2009, the company dropped apparel altogether to focus on beauty and accessories, a signal that its owner, now called L Brands, was ready to take another crack at mining some revenue from the brand. By 2014, the company had eliminated all other brands form its inventory, and would now focus on cosmetics and its own brand of moderately priced accessories and handbags. It seemed a far cry from the the store's rich heritage, and, it now seems to have been another ill-advised direction for the brand. It will cease to operate at the beginning of next year, leaving a lavish flagship, waiting for a tenant worthy of and rich enough for the space.
If the legendary Christmas displays do appear in Lord & Taylor's historic Fifth Avenue flagship windows this year, they will be the store's last. After selling the actual building to the voracious real estate consumer WeWork, the department store's parent company Hudson's Bay Co. announced last week that the store would be vacating the premises by the end of this year. To clarify, the chain is not folding, but this location (pictured above) along with a few other underperforming ones will be shuttering to try to stem some of HBC's recent losses.
While it is easy to get nostalgic about the departure of another of New York City's great retailers, one would have to note that this has not been as beloved a shopping destination as it's various owners over the years would have hoped it could be. The original plan was for HBC to simply maximize the building's value by selling it and leasing it back, a scheme that over the years has been frequently implemented. The Goodman family still owns the building that houses Bergdorf's where Neiman Marcus has paid its rent for decades. A similar arrangement exists at Bloomingdale's, and the initial plan for Lord & Taylor was for the store to be downsized, and for WeWork to lease out upper floors. In fairness, the mammoth store could easily have lost a few floors and consolidated its offerings for a more concise presentation and shopping experience, but, in the end, even that plan apparently didn't seem viable. While many retailers have been challenged by changing customer habits, this particular branch of Lord & Taylor also suffered from the same problem it has had for decades: Location, location, location.
One could argue that if the store had been situated a few blocks south at 34th street, which remains a teeming shopping corridor, it might have been able to survive, even thrive. By the time you get to 38th and Fifth, however, the crowds dissipate dramatically. For many years, Lord & Taylor had a genteel fellow anchor in B.Altman at 34th and Fifth, but that store has been gone since the late 80s early 90s department store bloodbath that also took out Gimbels, Bonwit Teller, Stern's and A&S. For a long time, shopping on Fifth Avenue was primarily concentrated in the stretch between Saks Fifth Avenue at 49th Street and Bergdorf Goodman at 58th. Thanks to chain stores like Zara, H&M, Urban Outfitters and others, the past decade has seen a resurgence that extended south to the New York Public Library at 42nd Street, but not to the one block further that would have brought shoppers to Lord & Taylor. It didn't help that the store's longtime owner, The May Co., seemed to have had a conflicted attitude toward what was supposed to be the crown jewel in its fleet of regional retail nameplates which have since been converted into Macy's branches. While they attempted to maintain the store's prestige with a continuing department of high-end designer women's apparel that was mostly ignored by its customers, they didn't bother to keep the store's interiors updated, allowing it to become increasingly dilapidated and outmoded. May was actually forced to sell the store when it merged with Macy's, and subsequent owners including HBC made commendable efforts to modernize, including major renovations that finally brightened the store's ambiance. Renewed emphasis on younger skewing merchandise and novelty departments would not, unfortunately, be enough to save the location, and by year's end, Lord & Taylor customers will have to make their way to Paramus, or Yonkers, or maybe Scarsdale, Manhasset or Garden City —New Jersey or New York, take your pick.
Lord & Taylor's historic store is not the only troublesome property that HBC unloaded last week. It also sold the flash sale retailer Gilt Group to its main competitor Rue La La. The once pioneering website had already fallen far since its heyday of discounted luxury designer goods when HBC bought it a few years ago. The hope that making it a more prestigious adjunct to its Saks Off Fifth outlet division did not pan out as the increasing scarcity of the prized designer labels it once sold in abundance made it hard to attract those wealthy customers that once descended upon the site at noon for its daily release of new merchandise. It seems unlikely that Gilt will be able to do that for Rue La La, but its new parent claims that it will maintain the two brands as distinct entities. Best of luck to them.
While the imminent arrival of Nordstrom near Columbus Circle has retailers reevaluating the retail potential of the Upper West Side, Barneys New York has quietly shuttered its location at Broadway between 75th and 76th Streets. The store was originally born in 2004 as a co-ed Co-op location and then transformed into a more luxe Barneys New York branded boutique exclusively offering women's merchandise featuring more expensive designer-level apparel, footwear and handbags. The problem, however, even in the store's initial Co-op days, has always been the mantra of real estate agents everywhere: Location, location location.
You don't have to be a real estate savant to know that an upscale apparel shop on the Upper West Side would belong not on Broadway, a stone's throw from Fairway, Zabar's and Citarella, but two blocks east on Columbus Avenue amongst the Rag & Bone and Theory boutiques. While Brooks Brothers appears to have found some success near Lincoln Center and also on Broadway in the 80s, fashion on Broadway has tended to top out at chain stores like Banana Republic and Gap. Even the fabled, sprawling Upper West Side mini-chain Charivari of decades ago kept its casual unit on Broadway while its directional designer boutiques were on Columbus —and that was in the go-go 1980s.
The location was never a winner for Barneys in either of its incarnations. As a Co-op store, it was the smallest of the spin-off chain's Manhattan branches, and made for a cramped shopping experience, even if its premium denim and somewhat more affordable contemporary fare was well-suited to the general demographics of the area. Despite only a smattering of upscale apparel retail north of Columbus Circle, The Upper West Side provides a wealthy customer base that has been traditionally under-served when it comes to fashion. As Barneys revamped its direction in 2013, the transformation of its Upper West Side shop into a more minimalistic women's-only boutique with luxurious designer offerings felt much more out of place with its four-figure handbags and stock of Manolo Blahnik heels on Broadway flanked by Lululemon and other more prosaic food and service merchants —the right store in the right neighborhood on the wrong street. Additionally, the store was never really big enough to reflect the full expression of the Barneys New York brand, which is associated with large, department-store sized locations. It was like a tiny Barneys that wasn't really much of a Barneys.
As you can see in the photo above, the former micro-Barneys' shelves and racks are now bare. Commercial Observer tells us that it closed on February 18th, but that the lease runs through the end of 2023. One would hope that a replacement tenant can be installed soon, but given glut of overpriced retail space that stands empty for extended periods of time all over Manhattan, the potential for it to become another white elephant storefront is unfortunately high.
We have been hearing about American Apparel's woes for so long that it is almost a surprise that it took the once innovative chain this long to finally shut down, which it is the process of doing right now.
We have certainly spent plenty of time going on about American Apparel various antics over the years, most recent it has been about the removal of its controversial founder and former CEO Dov Charney whose removal in 2014 shined a light on the company's worst attributes behind the scenes including not only his highly questionable work behavior and the environment it created, but, more importantly, his mismanagement of the retail chain which had grown larger than he was able successfully steward. It was an ugly fight and —long and complicated story short— he lost. New, more experienced management arrived, but the damage was more than they were able to repair, and after AA's most recent bankruptcy last year, the company's intellectual property and some of its equipment was sold for a mere $88 million to the Canadian company Gildan Activewear which was not interested in continuing to operate the chain of retail stores that in more optimistic days threatened to overrun New York City. While many American Apparel stores have already been closed through ongoing reorganization efforts, the rest will be gone in a few months. More upsettingly, Charney's pride and joy, his Los Angeles factory at which much of the company's products were made has been shut down. Workers spent Monday this week in lines at the facility to pick up their final paychecks. Monday's layoffs came to about 2,400 workers. No severance and likely more layoffs to come.
American Apparel joins a group of retailers who have seen a sad New Year including the final shutdown of the once dominant women's apparel chain The Limited and the announcement of major store closures from iconic American chains Sears and Macy's. Each of these companies have long been suffering from their own systemic problems, so it may be premature to announce a crisis for the retail industry in general, but the loss of 100 Macy's units alone is going to be a jolt to retail landlords who now have to either redevelop the spaces or attract a shrinking pool of large stores to try and fill all those square feet —not to mention finding new tenants for the newly or soon-to-be empty Limited and American Apparel spaces that dot shopping areas across the country.
Yes, we know the picture says Last 4 Days, but it was taken yesterday at the Scoop NYC in Brookfield Place which was looking more than a little depleted at the time. That leaves Today, Tomorrow and Sunday to say goodbye to a once beloved chain of contemporary boutiques the chain's most recently opened location. While nostalgia is in order, we have all had weeks to come to terms with Scoop's demise. The thing to do right now is what shopper do best, and that is to pick over its carcass like vultures looking for the best bargain. And it'll be tough, because there's not much left. Yesterday, the chain lowered final discounts to 50% to 70% off the lowest marked prices (which, as far as we could tell were only full prices), and a visit to the FiDi and Meatpacking locations showed some pretty picked over offerings, though, depending on your size, you might find a gem or two. Anyway, it's worth a stop by if you are in the neighborhood perhaps for a cheap t-shirt or maybe a couple of souvenir mannequins.
It turns out that the Brookfield Place store is the only one closing this weekend. The last two stores on Washington Street in the Meatpacking District and on Third Avenue on the Upper East Side are still slated to remain open for another month through the second week in July. Presumably, consolidations from other already closed stores in the chain will be funneled to them, so it's worth checking back, and it looks like there will be time for at least another round of markdowns before the chain's final swan song.
Today's Thursday Styles has a look back at the rise and fall of the Scoop NYC boutique chain that is currently in the process of liquidating, and the most significant bit of information it reveals is that the chain will finally shutter its stores on the second week of July. That gives it about eight more weeks to get rid of its inventory which should mean escalating discounts through the sale period. It's not exactly the best time to be liquidating, since Scoop will be competing with the regular seasonal markdowns in all of the other stores that have the same merchandise, and it will have to go a bit deeper than the 20% off it has mostly been offering for the past couple of weeks in order to compete with regular old sales elsewhere.
Otherwise, the story told in the article by former insiders is much as we have heard. The once hot chain lost a bit of its mojo when co-founder Stefani Greenfield departed and the up and coming labels it helped to discover became less exclusive and opened their own boutiques —generally in competing locations— and became mainstays in the burgeoning contemporary departments of major retailers like Saks and Neiman Marcus. Instead of replacing those maturing labels with newer, hotter ones, the store chugged along as a comfortable if less essential stop the millennial shopping tour until skyrocketing rents and ill-advised leases did it in Now there are eight weeks left to how much Scoop can slash its prices enough to make us all come back to clear its racks and shelves.
Liquidations are an inherently bittersweet stage of a store closure, but we will try to keep shoppers updated on just how much of a discount is being offered.
The Last Days of Scoop By Marisa Meltzer (NYTimes)
THE FAREWELL SALES:
Scoop Shifts Into Liquidation Mode While Carson Street Remains Serene At Half Price
It's going to be a sad couple months with some great bargains as New York says goodbye to a cornerstone of contemporary retailing along with a short-lived but much admired men's boutique.
Scoop NYC confirmed early Monday that all of its stores would be closing over the next several weeks and commenced a modest 10% off storewide promotion suggesting that it would be going the slow route toward clearing merchandise, but as regular, non-liquidating stores are set to release spring markdowns in a few weeks, it seems like an acceleration is in order. Today, The Shophound was notified that storewide discounts have risen to 20% off with certain categories like boots and off-season accessories discounted 30% to 40% off the lowest ticket prices. We didn't see anything that had been previously reduced, so it would appear that most everything offered is still marked at full price, but the ugly liquidation posters are up in the windows, and when we stopped by the Third Avenue Scoop on the Upper East Side (pictured above and below) merchandising was being reorganized on the racks by category; dresses over here, pants over there, etc. At this point, the discounts are not extraordinary, but it may be worth it to venture forth to save a little on certain non-seasonal items that rarely get discounted like certain shoe and sneaker styles and other accessories. Further reductions are sure to be on the way , but regular Scoop fans should know that the most recent sale notice was sent to Shophound email as a press notification and specifically not to the personal email which is on Scoopnyc.com's regular mailing list. This may be because Scoop's e-commerce website has been closed entirely aside from a landing page that will direct you to the nearest store. The G.O.B. sale is now exclusively brick-and-mortar, so don't wait for any big discounts online, but, since it is not a court-ordered bankruptcy liquidation, the store is still accepting any remaining gift certificates.
The other big goodbye this season is to the short lived but much loved Carson Street, (pictured below) which notified its customers that its entire stock is now a tough to resist 50% off. We stopped by on Monday afternoon to check it out in person and found the store locked and dark at what seemed to be a reasonable shopping time. We were a bit perplexed as to how its clearance would be handled. Online only? We made our way there again this afternoon, and found it open as normal. You would never have known that there was a closing sale going on. The store seemed as tranquil as always, and full of lots of designers that aren't widely distributed, or discounted, and certainly won't found at half price at this point in the season. On the racks as usual were labels like Lemaire, J.W. Anderson, Jil Sander, Greg Lauren, Tim Coppens, Tomas Maier, Umit Benan and Ami to name just a few. Anyone who is a fan of more directional menswear should make it their business to get down to Carson Street's Greene Street store posthaste, although, if you can't make it down to SoHo, its e-commerce site is still up and running and featuring the current discount.
So that's the clearance report for the moment. We will do our best to keep you as up to date as possible on these bittersweet sale situations.
Much admired men's store Carson Street announced that it would close its doors at the end of June after just over three years in business.
Originally opened on Crosby Street as Carson Street Clothiers (pictured at right), the store recently made a major move to a larger but somewhat more out-of-the-way space last Fall coinciding with a new abbreviated name and distinct change in direction from a modern, updated classic point of view to a more progressive style. Perhaps it was too much change too fast. Trouble seemed to be brewing earlier this week when cofounder Brian Trunzo announced his exit from the company to pursue his own projects. The store's 2013 debut was highly anticipated by industry watchers as an audacious project from menswear fans but retailing outsiders Trunzo and Matt Breen. The shop's construction was chronicled on Esquire.com, and was greeted with praise when its doors finally opened featuring a well edited assortment of the most favored menswear designers of the moment displayed in a welcoming setting featuring a cozy lounge and friendly salespeople. The location was smartly chosen as Crosby Street became home to more and more complementary stores like Saturdays NYC and Miansai. The arrival of Seattle's Totokaelo last fall seemed to solidify the street as a prime destination for shopping, but Carson Street was already planning to relocate to a block of Greene Street that was further off the beaten path of shoppers.
A new, separate wholesale collection called Deveaux was launched earlier this year at New York Fashion Week Men's for this fall, which may have been one complication too many too many for the still growing company. That business will continue even as the store closes, and is expected to be found at Totokaelo, United Arrows and Spruce according to WWD.
The Shophound will miss browsing through Carson Street's racks, and its always sad to see a promising shop depart before its time, but the predictable silver lining remains what will have to be an excellent G.O.B. sale over the next couple of months.