Have We Reached Peak Athleisure With Lululemon Lab?

Nobody loves a catchy trend name more than the fashion industry, and nobody loves a portmanteau word more than the internet, which makes Athleisure an instantly annoying concept. Having said that, there's no denying that Lululemon, the yoga-focused athletic wear brand that has spurred crazes and backlashes at a headspinning rate, is partially responsible for the popularity of wearing yoga-pants as everyday-wear. It stands to reason, then, that the logical next step for the label would be to simply expand into sportswear made with no particular performance purpose, so now we have the brand new Lululemon Lab boutique that opened last week on Bond Street on NoHo.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the store is the near banishment of company's actual name, as if it is somehow manifesting its own corporate shame over recent controversies by suppressing its very name in favor of its circular insignia that is subtly imprinted only on the inside of garments. Even the sign outside shows only the symbol and the word "lab".
Inside, there is not a yoga pant to be found. Instead, high tech athletic fabrics are fashioned into minimalistic sportswear pieces that are meant to look more at home out on the town. To the brand's credit, the sophisticated materials look good in their Rick Owens-lite incarnations offering bonded seams and laser cutting that wouldn't make anyone look like they just dashed out of the gym.
This is Lululemon Lab's first U.S. store —it has one other in Vancouver— and it is smartly nestled amongst some of the most notable condos in NoHo just a few doors away from Billy Reid. Though the merchandise is sportswear, several of the women we saw shopping there yesterday afternoon were obviously on their way to/from yoga class drawn in by the logo on the sign not knowing that the store was a new brand concept. Athletic companies branching into sportswear is nothing new.  Adidas has its SLVR and Y-3 collections, and Moncler has transformed its image with its designer Gamme Rouge and Gamme Bleu collections, but time will tell us whether or not Lululemon has enough clout to join their ranks and dress its customers for the rest of the day.

Lululemon Lab 50 Bond Street between The Bowery & Lafayette Street, NoHo



Reservations For In-Store Apple Watch Purchasing Start Today

ApplewatchbagConcluding one of the most excruciatingly protracted product rollouts we have ever witnessed, Apple has finally opened up its reservation system for making Apple Watch purchases in its U.S. stores. Created to avoid the outsized queues of shoppers clamoring to buy the coveted timepiece on a first-come-first-served basis, the system now allows customers to choose a model on the Apple website and then choose a store based upon availability along with a designated time to stop buy in pick it up in a specially designed paper bag. While the watch has been available to be shipped directly through Apple for a few weeks now, buyers would have generally had to make the purchase before seeing the item in person and would also have been precluded from paying in cash if they so desired. Customers will now be able to walk out of a store with them starting today. Shoppers will be required to bring I.D. and will be able to try on the model before making a final decision and purchasing in the store.
The new system should mollify the amazingly cranky neighbors of the newest Apple Store at 74th Street and Madison Avenue who are still fearful that the store will disrupt their peaceful neighborhood with long hours and even longer lines of customers on the sidewalks there for product launches. The real test will come in September when the next iteration of the iPhone will presumably become available, but by then we are betting that the furor over the new store should have died down.

Apple opens up US Watch retail reservations, shoppers get unique bags (AppleInsider)


Karl Lagerfeld To Relaunch His Signature Collection In The U.S.

A Karl Lagerfeld women's look from Spring 2015

It is one of the great ironies of fashion that Karl Lagerfeld, possibly the most celebrated living designer of the modern era, has never been able to gain traction when designing under his own name in what is still the world's most important apparel market: The United States. Wildly successful designing tenures at Chanel, Fendi and twice at Chloé, have made Lagerfeld a bona fide pop-culture figure, and yet his own brand has always fizzled when introduced to American customers, but that isn't going to stop the 81-year old designer from giving his personal brand one more shot in the U.S. even when his contemporaries are contemplating retirement, if they haven't hung it up already.
This time around, the launch will be directed by the mass-market maestros at G-III Apparel Group Ltd. which has had huge success with moderate to better licensed brands from Calvin Klein, Jessica Simpson, Tommy Hilfiger, and many, many more brands that rake in cash at department stores across America. Spring 2016 will see the introduction of a new Karl Lagerfeld Paris line of Women's Apparel, Handbags and Men's Outerwear to be positioned in the oxymoronically titled "affordable luxury" category which we assume means that it will be pitted against Calvin Klein, Michael by Michael Kors and Lauren by Ralph Lauren in better department stores. A New York flagship is also being promised for next year as well.
While segments of Lagerfeld's signature line have been available through Net-a-Porter, it has been mostly absent from the U.S. since an ill-fated introduction several years ago that included a temporary store on Bleecker Street. This time, G-III is promising collections specifically designed for the U.S. market with the goal of creating another power brand, something the company has deep experience in. Relaunched in Europe in 2011, the brand has had more success overseas, and given its partners, this might finally be the opportunity to make Karl Lagerfeld a lucrative brand in his own right in the U.S.

Karl, G-III Sign Deal to Expand Lagerfeld Line in U.S. (WWD)


Lilly Pulitzer For Target Sold Out By Mid-Afternoon On The First Day

Bella Thorne, Emmy Rossum, Kate Bosworth & Ellie Kemper at the Lilly Pulitzer for Target Celebrity launch party.

Some of us New Yorkers were wondering if Doyenne of Palm Beach Prep Chic Lilly Pulitzer's collaboration line with Target would hold the appeal of the ones that more glamorous designers had participated in. After all, here in the Northeast there has always been a following for Pulitzer's style, but how would it play in the flyover states where Target makes its money?
Well, neither we nor anyone else needed to wonder.
WWD was quick to update before the end of yesterday's launch day that the collection had almost completely  sold out online and in stores after being available for less than 12 hours. Some stores sold out within minutes after hosting long early morning lines that hadn't been seen since the Missoni collaboration launch in 2011. This time, however, the store's e-commerce website did not crash, but was carefully monitored and managed to maintain functionality —even if it meant shutting it down for 15-minute periods for some kind of cyber-housecleaning to keep it humming.
Sadly, for those Lilly fans who were not quick enough to respond to the launch's first moments, there will be no replenishing of merchandise online or in stores. The best one can hope for is the occasional spot-check for goods that have been returned. There's always eBay, where the collaboration line appeared almost immediately marked up  to premium prices, much to the chagrin of Target executives. As a Target spokesperson told WWD, “For us and the Lilly Pulitzer team, it’s disheartening because we want to give people a chance to experience something special and affordable.” Apparently there is no way to correctly estimate how much of these collaborations to produce so there is enough to linger in stores for at least a few days.

Lilly Pulitzer for Target Collection Almost Sells Out (WWD)


Want To Buy An Apple Watch
At The Apple Store?
Wait Until June, Maybe July

AppleWatchEditionBasically, there is no product launch this season that can compare with the Apple Watch.
It has captured the imagination of the gadget-buying public like nothing else, and it though it will start shipping next week for an April 24th delivery to lucky early bird pre-orderers, we won't see it in stores for at least a couple of months. Anyone who thinks that they can line up outside the city's various Apple Stores to get first dibs will be sorely disappointed come next Friday, and if you see someone trying, you are now officially allowed to taunt them and throw things at them.
Well, maybe not throw things, but feel free to tell them not to waste their time.
No less credible a source than Angela Ahrendts, Apple's head of retail, sent a memo to employees this past week informing them that there would be no stock available for walk-in customers on the 24th, and there probably wouldn't be any until June, possibly July —which is why the company has been previewing the new line in stores before it becomes available to purchase in person. She writes in the memo, reprinted by The Telegraph,

"It's important to remember that Apple Watch is not just a new product but an entirely new category for us," she wrote. "There's never been anything quite like it. To deliver the kind of service our customers have come to expect — and that we expect from ourselves — we designed a completely new approach. That's why, for the first time, we are previewing a new product in our stores before it has started shipping."

Supplies are reportedly so tight that pre-ordering after an in-store examination may be the only way to buy the watch from an official outlet for months to come, perhaps until it is time to launch the inevitable Apple Watch 2 .One result of this will likely be discouraging the alleged straw purchasers who clogged lines outside stores last Fall when the iPhone 6 launched. It is widely believed that these customers, willing to wait in extensive lines repeatedly, were diverting their purchases to international gray markets where the phone was not yet available. Ahrendts, however does not make mention of this in her memo, rather stressing that a unique new product needs to be rolled out in a slow and controlled manner. There is also no suggestion that this will become the new standard procedure for other launches, so when the presumed new iPhone (6S? 6C?) is released this fall, we can reasonably expect to see a return to the familiar sight of lines of customers sweeping down the sidewalks.

Apple Watch won't be available in Apple's retail stores until June at the earliest (AppleInsider)


Luxury Apple Watch Edition To Be Sold In Only 53 Stores Worldwide

The long awaited Apple Watch hits stores today, but just to look at.
If you are thinking of having a closer look at the luxury Apple Watch Edition, don't think you can just wander into any Apple Store and stroll up to a table to get your paws on it. All viewing for the luxury model is by appointment only, which can be set up here. While there were rumors that Apple was in discussion with prominent luxury retailers to launch the watch, it looks like the gleaming gold version will not be available at Colette in Paris where an exclusive preview party was held during Paris Fashion Week in October or at any other third party store except for Selfridges in London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Isetan in Tokyo which all have permanent leased Apple retail stores under their roofs. The Edition model will be restricted to only 53 select Apple stores worldwide for the launch. According to AppleInsider, only 21 of those locations are in the U.S. including the Fifth Avenue flagship, SoHo and Broadway and 67th Street on the Upper West Side. Most of the other locations are concentrated on the East and West coasts with the exceptions of two Chicago Area stores and one each in Dallas and Houston. Internationally, the Edition model will be sold only in Canada, Australia, the U.K., France, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan at no more than three points of sale in each country. In all of continental Europe, only five stores will have it, which is a tiny breadth of distribution compared to other luxury watch brands. The only other country with more than three points of sale for the Edition will be Mainland China which will have it in 12 of its 19 Apple stores in addition to all three Hong Kong stores.
More than any other product launch in the past, Apple is encouraging hungry customers to pre-order all models of the Apple Watch online. There will be no stock available for walk-in customers when the watches officially hit the market on April 24th, so don't look for lines around the corner forming in the days before the 24th. This should be a disappointment to the legions of alleged gray-market cash purchasers we saw last Fall when the iPhone 6 was released, who may be part of the reason behind this policy. As of this morning, pre-order supplies for the launch day were swept up within minutes of becoming available online. Ship times for back orders are already at four to six weeks and are expected to go higher before the end of the day. If you haven't already secured one, then you should prepare to be very patient.

Apple Watch Edition initially limited to 53 retail outlets worldwide (AppleInsider)


Rag & Bone Beats The Fashion Week Crush With Lil Buck & Baryshnikov

Did you get a nice haul out of today's Rag & Bone sale?
Well, you should. There's plenty of good stuff from last Fall, and when you get home, you can preview the label's line for next Fall a week ahead of Fashion Week and in the comfort of your own home (or just watch the video above).

Rag & Bone designers David Neville and Marcus Wainwright have been chafing at the limitations of showing their men's collection on the runway for several seasons now, and like a growing number of New York menswear designers, they are leaving New York Fashion Week to their women's collection. "I look at shows online and it's kind of boring to be honest, to see this repetitive stream of models walking down a runway," Wainwright tells GQ, "We've done that before, we don't need to do that again. We need to evolve as a brand, and how we show needs to evolve." Rather than just offering an informal showing of their men's line out of the official schedule —which they did last night— they have also let the public in on the presentation, not just with a live-streamed runway shuffle, but with a mesmerizing video starring dancing wunderkind Lil Buck and and the most celebrated living ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov. Since he officially retired from ballet some 20 years ago or so Baryshnikov has continued to explore all kinds of other dance, and at at an astonishing 67 years old, he's still at it. Putting Buck and Baryshnikov together is the kind of thing that thrills dance fans, and it makes for a clever and often funny video.

As for the collection, it carries lots of the familiar Rag & Bone hallmarks, but with a healthy dose of technical performance-wear inspiration and more directional plays on layering and volume. "I think this all feels very different for us, but still very Rag & Bone," Says Wainwright, "I think the idea of people being able to be active is very important." As Fashion Weeks continue to get bloated with runway shows, it's good to see designers finding alternatives that are a departure without feeling like a step down from the old fashioned catwalk.

Rag & Bone's Marcus Wainwright on Ninjas, Movement, and Tears (The GQ Eye)


Apple Watch Set To Arrive In April

The most anticipated tech item of the year finally has a vague release date —just in time for ...Father's Day?
Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly revealed in a conference call on Tuesday that the  (Apple) Watch, first officially announced last September, will be ready for release this April, which is just under the wire for what was originally projected as an "early 2015" launch. Though a Holiday Season 2014 was always considered unrealistic, many industry analysts had expected a slightly earlier launch for the already heavily hyped item. Cook also indicated that there is no shortage of developers working furiously on software for the device.
Now what remains to be revealed is not when, but how the watch will be launched. Naturally, one expects that it will be available through Apple's own stores and website, but we may see the watch launched as more of a luxury item than a tech device. Shortly after it was first announced, Apple held a special preview at the Paris boutique Colette for fashion industry insiders during the unveiling of the Spring 2015 collections, which suggests that we may be more likely to see the watch's initial launch in stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's than at licensed resellers like Best Buy. Then there's the 18 karat gold Apple Watch Edition (pictured above) whose price, estimated to be in the several thousand dollar range, has yet to be announced, which is expected to be restricted to a highly limited distribution strategy including exclusive jewelers who may have never an Apple product before at all. While this may be new territory for even an upscale tech company like Apple, there is a depth of luxury experience in the company's Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Sales Angela Ahrendts, who came to the job from a position as CEO of Burberry. These details are probably going to be revealed in the next couple of months, but don't be surprised to see Neiman Marcus, Saks and even Nordstrom or Barneys vying over who who might get an exclusive on the item's launch.
And if anyone else is planning a major product launch this Spring, expect to be majorly eclipsed.

Apple Watch on track to ship in April, CEO Tim Cook says (AppleInsider)


Denim x Alexander Wang Is Coming Tomorrow

Alexander-wang-denim04Never a dull moment in Wang-world.
Today he is pulling a Beyoncé.
Alexander Wang, who just released a blockbuster collaboration line with H&M is not resting for the Holiday Season. He is reportedly launching an entire new line called Denim x Alexander Wang that is expected to be in stores tomorrow with exactly zero advance publicity except for a cryptic, possibly NSFW Instagram image that the designer posted earlier today (and which you can see after the jump). We know little more than that it is coming with a major ad campaign shot by Steven Klein. By this time tomorrow, the fashion and retailing industries will be talking of nothing else, so stay tuned for details.

UPDATE 12/3/14:
The complete info is now online at the WWD link below. The denim collection —three styles in three washes making 9 different variations— will be available exclusively at the Alexander Wang SoHo boutique and through his website on Monday, December 8th. Expect a sellout within hours. WWD reports that the line "launches" today, which probably means that the Steven Klein ad campaign teased on Instagram is officially released. It features model Anna Ewers sort of wearing the jeans, in pretty solidly NSFW images meant to evoke Calvin Klein Jeans ads in their most controversial, early 90s days. “It’s not provocative just in terms of sexy, but provocative to provoke conversation,” Wang tells WWD. “I’m not dictating what that message is exactly. The interesting part is to see how people interpret it, and what they have to say about it. Of course, there are going to be people who disagree with it.” Have a look at them and form your own opinion after the jump.

Alexander Wang Does Denim (WWD)

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Shipley & Halmos Blow The Dust Off
Of Haspel For Next Spring

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It was over a year ago when we heard that Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos of Shipley & Halmos would be behind a relaunch of the famous men's suit brand Haspel. Since then, we haven't really heard much about it, until Friday, when The Shophound made our way down to Parlor in SoHo to finally see what the duo had done with label most known for boxy wash-and-wear business suits in seersucker and poplin. If you recall, Friday was miserably muggy, so it was already a pleasure to walk into the Fashion Week lounge that Esquire magazine had set up in the members only club for a few days and immediately be offered a choice of cold beverages. Can we have that at all fashion shows now please? And the bar snacks, too, while you are at it. Basically, clothes be damned, we could have happily set up shop with a cocktail in the posh little club and listened to the jazz combo for the afternoon, but as we made our way to the back, we did finally find the models, and saw that Shipley & Halmos have adopted a less is more approach to reviving the Haspel label. At this point in the menswear timeline, the concept of reviving an American heritage brand like Haspel might be more likely met with groans after a glut of such relaunches and the cresting of the preppy/traditional craze. You can add that to the list of challenges the designers faced when trying to figure out how to inject life into a brand known for rumply cotton summer suits. It turned out, however, the pair found perfect way to relaunch a line of lightly constructed suiting. Instead of pitching the line to beleaguered businessmen in need of some way to dress appropriately for work in the dog days of Summer, Haspel has been remade for a modern guy looking to dress up a more casual look. It's a simple switch of perspective that makes all the difference. The signature seersucker is still there, but now it is softened and presented in lighter, solid tones for those averse to the barbershop quartet look. There were no stuffy neckties, just easy, casual sportswear pieces to round out the tight, ten-look presentation, and of course, the models were shod in what is possibly the canniest relaunch of 2014, the Adidas Stan Smith sneaker. For nostalgia's sake, Haspel also offered a gift bag that hearkened back to the pre-2008 glory of such things which included a sturdy (read: butch) canvas tote from Blue Claw Co. filled with some recent Esquire publications, Mitch by Paul Mitchell men's Reformer texturizer for our hair and four pairs of underpants from co-sponsor Jockey. It is, in fact, the first time we have recieved boxer briefs in a gift bag which is amusing, but ultimately useful, although we are not sure that we will ever make use of the Jockey key ring attached to tiny orange briefs —not a complaint, just an observation. Have a look at the whole presentation in the gallery above.

Heritage Brand Revival: Haspel Label To Return Next Spring With Help From Shipley & Halmos