The doors are finally open at Nordstrom's first New York City store. It has been a long wait for the company to finally enter the city, and though it has already opened a series of off-price Nordstrom Rack stores here, this is the first iteration of the retailer's full-price concept to reach NYC, even if it is really an adjunct unit to the grand flagship store still under construction across Broadway. That store is now projected to open in time for the Fall 2019 season.
Of course, this is no ordinary Nordstrom branch. Not only is it the company's first all-menswear store, but it is also the rare unit that has been constructed within an existing building creating some unusual architectural challenges that we will get to later. First, let's get to the important bit: What's in the store? Those New Yorkers who don't get to suburban malls very often may not be familiar with Nordstrom's merchandising strategy. For Manhattanites, it can probably be best compared to Bloomingdale's (minus the furniture, kitchen and home furnishings departments) in the sense that it's merchandise can range, depending on the location, from Misses and Young Men's categories up to the most exclusive international luxury labels. On the whole, it is one of the most important mens retailers in the country, and most of its vendors can reliably count it as its biggest retail client by far, so a separate men's store makes sense for the chain. It also allows the retailer to open in the city about 18 months ahead of the rest of its splashy main flagship. Nordstrom has traditionally had something of a middle-of-the road fashion image as far as menswear goes, but it has has gone about updating that over the past decade. For this store, the first designer racks you see entering through the doors on Broadway between 57th and 58th streets belong to Gosha Rubchinsky, Loewe and Comme des Garçons Homme Plus. That makes a hard won statement. Nordstrom merchants have made an effort to play down the most popular (and lucrative) brands it carries in favor of labels with more limited distribution or the kind of cult appeal that will excite jaded New York shoppers. So there are Moscot sunglasses mixed in amongst the more ubiquitous Tom Ford and Gucci frames. While Tommy Bahama has been excused from this particular store, high volume producers Theory and Hugo Boss are still there, but pushed toward the back.
Downstairs, there is a coffee bar, a blander casual sportswear section and the centerpiece of any Nordstrom store: the shoe department. Here is where the store's more egalitarian ethos comes into focus most clearly. It takes up a large section of the block-long floor and features an assortment that ranges from Timberland to Christian Louboutin. There are lavish Gucci sneakers only a few steps away from more prosaic Nikes and Adidas and everything in between arrayed just a few steps further. Up on the second floor, high fashion designer collections share quarters with Tailored clothing. Collections like Dior Homme, Givenchy, Valentino and Calvin Klein 205W39NYC are in the spotlight with distinct mini-shops proving the store's luxury bona fides as more classic upscale sportswear takes shoppers into the suit department. Rather than the extensive banks of suit racks that you may still see in some more traditional Nordstrom locations, the emphasis here is more on fashion as well with patterned shirts and surprisingly few ties on display. In the back corner we found a full bar for those brave enough to drink and shop with a private shopping are tucked behind it.
As expected the store was operating with a full, beaming sales staff. You can't reasonably be annoyed that every associate goes out of their way to greet you when it is opening day, but , to their credit, they were neither cloying nor overbearing, just generally friendly and available if you needed them. Also seen was a full complement of Nordstrom executives looking alternately proud and anxious, along with the inevitable scouts from other retailers curious to see what the new entrant is bringing to the game. We spotted Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus Men's Fashion Director Bruce Pask snooping around the shoe department, and you can confidently assume that by now, his counterparts at Saks, Bloomingdale's and Barneys have all been through the place with a fine toothed comb.
As far as the store itself goes, its unorthodox footprint presents it with an unusual challenge, a split main floor, due to the main entrance of the office building above at 300 Columbus Circle. This separate section is accessible from both the upper and lower floors, but not from the rest of the main floor, not unlike the predicament Bergdorf Goodman found itself in when its mens store opened in 1990 while it waited five years for one small store on Fifth Avenue to run out its lease. Nordstrom, however is unlikely to recapture that space like Bergdorf's eventually did, and its side store is currently devoted to jeans, fragrance and grooming and a specialty electronics department. It's the concession they made to get to New York. It seems like everyone has to make one on some level —however real or figurative. We aren't worried that it will hold them back too much. The store was certainly busy with curious shoppers who looked like they were also eagerly buying. Nordstrom has opened the first major men's store in the city since Bergdorf's spun off its men's department into the former FAO Schwarz space 28 years ago. That tells you what a challenging market it is to enter. One thinks one the withering defeat that the much admired Louis, Boston suffered when its ambitious New York store ended its brief tenure in the late 1980s. That unfortunate rejection by locals has scared off some retailers from other cities for decades. Nordstrom has been trying to open a flagship in New York for even longer than that. While they aren't completely done yet, They have made a strong start. Thanks to suburban branches in the New York and New Jersey suburbs, they are not an unknown interloper to proud NYC shoppers, but a well liked mainstay they have been anticipating. So far, it looks like Nordstrom will not disappoint.
It seems that there is no stopping the proliferation of big box stores throughout the city, and yet another permutation of the Bed Bath & Beyond mega-chain has arrived on the Upper West Side. What was once a Food Emporium on Broadway and 90th Street has just re-opened its doors as Face Values & Beyond, a combination of the Harmon Face Values cosmetics and beauty supply chain on the street level with a condensed version of the mother ship downstairs where the deli counter used to be. So far, no sign of Buy Buy Baby or Cost Plus World Market has materialized, but the new store shows how the conglomerated chains are being creatively tweaked and combined to fit various locations as they become available. One would not have thought that the space, empty for many months, would have been considered for a full Bed Bath & Beyond, and so it wasn't, but the Face Values concept should be a hit in the neighborhood, especially with the recent loss of a couple of nearby Ricky's. The lower level, it turns out was just enough space to fill with a "best of" version of the main chain including housewares, bed & bath and just a bit of the basics that the company is known for, situated equidistant from full line stores at Lincoln Square or 125th Street. The best thing here, as at all of the company's outlets, is the coupon game. It may be the 20% Off coupons that fuel this retail behemoth's continued expansion, but as convenient as it now is, one should never go there without at least one or two discounts in hand. Don't have them? They are easy to get, and can be ordered by mail, email, text message or, even better, all three. There are even occasional, limited offers to join as a member (for a small fee) to get a discount on all purchases at all times. Snap these up if you see them. They work across all four of the nameplates, and you will have a new appreciation for the big box stores coming to your neighborhood.
That big new ATM sign on Bleecker Street is not meant to alert shoppers to a cash machine.
Fans of designer Anthony Thomas Mellilo's ATM collection of deceptively simple sportswear will be pleased to discover the label's first freestanding boutique on Bleecker Street. Opened last month, the sparely designed shop offers clean backdrop for one of the collections that helped launch the unfortunately named "athleisure" trend, but should also remind shoppers with longer memories of the store that first brought Melillo attention in the late 1990s. Back when the Lower East Side was becoming an infamous hipster epicenter, Nova USA by Tony Mellilo appeared on the corner of Stanton and Ludlow Streets. The men's sportswear line brought acclaim, but the usual challenges of being an independent designer made it a relatively short lived venture. Still, Melillo persisted, helping to relaunch classic brand Generra and putting out another eponymous men's collection before finally hitting the right groove with ATM in 2012. This time, he let other retailers like Barneys present his collection, but now that he has his own store once again, it seems like a circle has finally been closed. While his designs have evolved, his straightforward aesthetic remains consistent, showing his skill for making basics that don't look boring based around cleverly designed jersey knits. ATM evokes the ongoing appetite for athletic wear without making customers look like they didn't bother to change after yoga class. Look for the new shop at 405 Bleecker Street in what was once one of Marc Jacobs' series of boutiques between West 11th and Bank Streets.
When designer Todd Snyder's City Gym shop ended its brief run in NoLita about a year and a half ago, we were promised that a more permanent showcase for the designer was on the way. It's been quite a wait, but Snyder is finally making his bid for the MVP role in the bumper crop of American menswear designers who have emerged in New York over the past decade. The Todd Snyder NYC Flagship store finally opened on the northern edge of Madison Square Park last week featuring the full breadth of the designer's offerings plus a host of collaborations that almost make the new store seem like a multi-brand affair. While a few features like the in-store barber shop and café are still awaiting finishing touches, there is still plenty for Snyder fans to appreciate including a full Moscot optical counter and an impressive shoe assortment featuring exclusive styles from beloved brands like Crockett & Jones, Alden, Grenson and Tricker's to name a few.
Of course, this isn't Snyder's first big boutique. Even before opening the City Gym shop, Snyder launched his Townhouse store in Tokyo where his sophisticated take on classic sportswear found an enthusiastic customer base. This, however, is his first major retail statement in his home town. it is, in part, a result of new investment in the Todd Snyder brand by American Eagle. While AE was attracted by the more casual Tailgate brand also created by Snyder, the designer's signature collection now gets a hefty collateral boost that can potentially elevate it to a new level. It's great for a designer to have a rack or two in Bergdorf's, Neiman Marcus or Saks, but nothing beats having an entire store to show the full expression of a brand and raise a designer's profile. Snyder's clothes aren't avant-garde or outlandish. They don't necessarily jump out at you when they are mixed in with the rest of a department store's offerings, but stock an entire store with them, and their appeal increases exponentially. Add some tasty accessories and collaboration items to cover whatever he can't yet produce under the main brand plus a personable and professional staff, and you have the formula for a big brand boost just a stone's throw from one of Manhattan's burgeoning neighborhoods. The store is off to a promising start just in time for the Holiday season, and if it fulfills it's potential, you should be seeing Todd Snyder on a faster track to the big leagues.
Todd Snyder NYC Flagship Store now open at 23 East 26th Street/25 Madison Square North, NoMad.
This week, the Westfield Corp. unveiled its most spectacular shopping center in what is possibly its most controversial and likely the most expensive location to construct in the city, if not all of America. The Santiago Calatrava-designed Oculus is the dramatic centerpiece of World Trade Center redevelopment with a multi-billion dollar price tag that has left New Yorkers scratching their heads as if to say "Wait, we said we would pay how much for that thing?"
People will debate the return on that investment for years to come, until it no longer becomes relevant, but along with the opportunity for regular folks to finally walk through that strange, spiny structure comes a reason to be there, which is, of course, shopping at the Westfield World Trade Center. The financial district has become the white hot center of attention for New York City's real estate community for several years now, and the area is finally starting to bear fruit as the vast transit hub is finally ready to show off its dazzling tenant list —even if some of those tenant aren't quite ready to open their doors yet. Like in any new mall, not every store is finished, but we can see what will be arriving in the coming weeks, and the question is, do you need to go out of your way to go shopping in the newly retail-packed financial district?
Our answer: Maybe? Maybe not.
Like its also-highly touted neighbor Brookfield Place, which we understand is doing well with its collection of contemporary-to-luxury retail boutiques, There is no store open or coming to Westfield World Trade Center that isn't open somewhere else in the city in what is probably a bigger and more convenient iteration. That is not to say that the stores are unwelcome. The mall's biggest store appears to be the city's umpteenth Apple Store, and while we have several of those already here, this one should easily be kept busy with it its captive customer base in the surrounding area. That is probably the same story for all the other stores there. Did we need a new Kate Spade boutique? No but the women of the financial district will probably be happy to see the store in the neighborhood which, up until now has mostly leaned towards men's retailers, given the still predominantly male industry it serves. Though it is a jaw dropping setting, the Oculus is still a glorified transit hub, and the shops inside are geared to serve the vast numbers of workers who will stream through on a daily basis from the subway and the PATH trains, as well as the gawking tourists who have made the location a must-visit stop on their tour. If it is the most convenient shopping neighborhood to your location, then yeah, it's not a bad collection of stores at all, but if you live uptown, or even downtown, many of the stores are already more conveniently well ensconced with flagships in Midtown or SoHo or the Flatiron District or the Upper East Side. What you may want to travel to see is the spectacular building itself. The scale is dizzying, literally. There are some areas that are vertigo inducing, like a wide curved set of stairs on the east end whose lack of railings is a bit unsettling, and there are many areas of the building where the scale is oddly off-putting, but the structure is indeed a sight to behold, like the set for a futuristic movie yet to be filmed. The long-rumored remake of Logan's Run, perhaps? The space is majestic and thrilling, and its sprawling connectivity with the other new and redeveloped structures and transit systems make one feel a bit like one is in an enclosed community large enough to never have to leave. It has the immaculate perfection of a set from a Star Trek movie —the big budget new version, not the original series— but while that architecture is usually computer generated, this one is all real with the same cold perfection that always hints at something less pristine underneath. The vast concourse (pictured below) seems almost too empty, as if any week now, it will be furnished with the kiosks that dot the interiors of every other mall. Time will tell if the need for more profits calls in a Proactive stand or Piercing Pagoda. How the dust settles will determine if it becomes a vibrant city landmark or a dreary boondoggle of taxpayer resentment, but for now, Westfield World Trade Center still has the cool glow of its nascent weeks.
A few flashes of lightning in the sky weren't enough to keep VIP sneaker heads away from the opening party at the new Adidas Originals store last night. This sub brand of the athletic wear giant made waves several years ago when it debuted its previous store on Wooster Street with an open air storefront and an abundance of those nostalgic sneaker styles we all remember from our collective youth. The brand —the one with the original Adidas trefoil insignia— has evolved quite a bit since then, and while still able to wield enough promotional power to launch a full-scale revival of its classic Stan Smith tennis shoe a couple of years ago, it has grown to encompass more modern cutting edge design as well as exclusive collaborations with influential stores, designers and, yes, pop stars. Having outgrown its SoHo showplace, Adidas has finally opened a new one on Spring Street with much more room to show off its latest revivals –the "Gazelle" is the vintage model du jour now— as well as hot collaborations and vastly enlarged wall of shoes (pictured above) to peruse.
It's a lot more store for Adidas lovers to shop, and that's saying something significant these days when every retailer is seriously reviewing the returns on its square footage. Standouts from last night's opening included graphic womenswear from Rita Ora's ongoing collaboration with the label as well as our personal fave, the White Mountaineering x Adidas collection (pictured below), a team up with the influential Japanese men's label.
Last night's party centered around a short film made in collaboration with rapper Joey Bada$$, and Adidas hung on to its old store just enough to usher guests there for a private concert but the hip hop performer and his crew before it gets turned over to a new tenant —kind of like throwing one last blowout party in your old apartment before you move out.
Hopefully Adidas will get their deposit back.
Well, maybe they don't care.
Adidas Originals now open at 115 Spring Street between Mercer & Greene Streets, SoHo
Summer will officially begin next week which is the perfect time for a swimwear store to open, and so Orlebar Brown, the cult brand that has been instrumental in banishing baggy board shorts from beaches everywhere, has opened its first New York store in SoHo.
Known for their sleekly tailored bathing shorts that are hemmed a a good, healthy distance above the knee, the brand has earned a faithful following by finding an alternative beach look somewhere between the unflattering aforementioned surfing shorts and the skimpy racing or square-cut suit. Their bathing suits are so well-made that they come with a 5-year guarantee. As the swimming shorts have taken off, the label has expanded into a full sportswear line but always with a beachy, resort-style attitude. In fact, the new SoHo store is but a taste of the label's offerings at a compact 395 square feet. The real show is at the East Hampton store opening this weekend at around 3,000 square feet also carrying the women's and children's collections. For those who prefer to shop in the city, however, a trip to Broome Street will be at the top of the to-do the list for gentlemen who are putting together an impeccable vacation wardrobe.
Orlebar Brown, 451 Broome Street between Broadway & Mercer Street, SoHo
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
It's been tough going for Hickey Freeman in recent years what with changes of ownership and creative direction coupled with some uncertainty in the men's suit business that has caused a store like Barney's New York to dramatically reduce the space devoted to the category it built its business on to one measly floor in its Madison Avenue flagship —from the original three. Things seem to have stabilized at Hickey, however, and to prove it, the label has opened a modest but noteworthy new store at Brookfield Place right in the middle of the neighborhood where suit-wearing has never wavered. Not a big flashy flagship, the 900 square foot store is devoted to the company's made-to-measure division, a service that falls just short of full custom tailoring, but allows customers to make their own fabric and model choices as well as offers special sizes and fit adjustments that can minimize final alterations. Though there is a selection of ready-to-wear items showing the company's updated look, the new concept store also displays 180 bolts of fabric for tailored clothing and shirts as a part of its sleek, design. It is the first Hickey Freeman retails store created by the brand's new management, Grano Retail Holdings which purchased Hickey Freeman's assets including its famed Rochester NY factories, as well as a long-term license for the brand name which still belongs to Authentic Brands Group. It's a complicated arrangement, but it has kept one of America's great menswear brands alive after a couple of bankruptcies of its past parent companies Hartmarx and HMX. New management is dedicated to revival, and chose Brookfield Place to join in the renewal of lower manhattan but also to give the label more visibility in a market where it believes it is underrepresented. The other obvious part of the store's goal is to show off Hickey's new fashion direction, “. . .so when retailers come through New York City, they can see how we display and present it,” Grano CEO Stephen Granovsky tells WWD.
But what of the Madison Avenue flagship between 54th and 55th Streets? Shouldn't that be the site of brand's high-profile re-introduction? It turns out that that store continues to be owned and operated by a different company controlled by Hickey Freeman former CEO which accounts for its more traditional look and ambiance. That state of affairs may change in the future, but Grano is actively looking for looking for more New York locations to open stores of about 1,500 square feet as well as continue to grow Hickey Freeman's business in the specialty store channel that has historically been its strong suit (no pun intended). The Upper East Side is another target location, so perhaps we will soon see Hickey going head to head with Italian powerhouses like Brioni, Isaiah and Cesare Attolini. If it can stand up to to that rarefied competition, then its future should be as bright as its new yellow logo design.
We see a lot of designer boutiques here at The Shophound, and they always have something in common. They are generally designed to be tasteful and neutral backgrounds for the rarefied products they display. They may use luxurious and even innovative materials and have specially designed details that elegantly express their brand's image, but, generally without the clothes, they are a blank.
Is always refreshing to see someone willing break that pattern which is what we encountered this morning at the just-opened Sonia Rykiel boutique on Madison Avenue. Rykiel, the Parisian designer with the unmistakable mane of flaming red hair whose soigné collections amassed a cult of devoted fans over the past several decades, has been absent from Madison for a few years now as her label underwent some transition including her own retirement and the installation of new creative director, Julie de Libran. Rather than remaking the company in a wildly different direction, de Libran has successfully given the brand a shot in the arm but still pays tribute to the house signatures like those familiar striped knits and fluffy, colorful furs. When it came time to return to Madison Avenue, rather than reverting to Rykiel's traditionally sedate black and cream design scheme, de Libran and the company went for bright red lacquered shelves and a bookstore/café theme that appears in the brand's other international locations and serves as a delightful alternative to the parade of self-conscious opulence that has come to characterize Madison Avenue. The walls of the 1,900 square foot shop that was most recently a short-lived Kent & Curwen boutique, have been almost entirely covered in bookshelves which have been duly packed with all manner of literature ready for your perusal —as long as you read French. There are even a few racy volumes waiting for more private examination in the dressing rooms. Matching red lacquered mannequins bring the clothes to life, and a whimsically designed carpet by artist André Saraïva underscores the upbeat ambiance. The "café" corner in the front (pictured after the jump) shows off the newest accessories including the new "Le Copain" mini-bag (only $490) in all its colorful permutations. In short, Rykiel's return to Madison Avenue is inviting and fun, especially on a gloomy winter morning. Of course, Sonia Rykiel is no second tier brand. The clothes hanging on the racks are as luxurious and costly as anyone else's on the street, but it's amazing how a coat of red paint and a little bit of humor can vanish that that sense of self-important preciousness that seems to glaze over so many designer brand palaces in New York. See for yourself starting today.
Sonia Rykiel now open at 816 Madison Avenue between 68th & 69th Streets, Upper East Side
Have a look at some more images of the store after the jump