Are Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani &
Tiffany Heading Downtown?

Those "Real Estate Industry Sources" are at it again. A couple of weeks ago such sources had Neiman Marcus about to sign up for a huge flagship store at Hudson Yards that could possibly violate the terms of Bergdorf Goodman's lease (It stipulates that Neiman Marcus never open a store within New York City). Now "sources" have Tiffany & Co., Tom Ford and Giorgio Armani taking prominent storefronts at mall giant Westfield's World Trade Center shopping complex now leasing in the financial district. It would be a coup for the location which has been competing bitterly with rival Brookfield Place in the World Financial Center that is currently boasting upcoming stores from Hermès, Salvatore Ferragamo, Zegna, Michael Kors and Paul Smith —who was just announced today.

The question is just how well a true luxury shopping district can be created out of whole cloth where there previously was none? When the original World Financial Center opened about 25 years ago, it was meant to bring big spenders downtown with a satellite Barneys men's store as the main draw, but it fizzled even before the devastation of 9/11. While a smaller enclave of luxury retail has developed near the Stock Exchange anchored by Tiffany and Hermés and focused around jewelry, watches and men's apparel, it remains to be seen if the neighborhood can really support more than that. According to The Real Deal, Tom Ford would take a street-level corner store in 4 World Trade Center (pictured above) while Armani and Tiffany would open in neighboring 3 World Trade Center, all with entrances on Church Street. They would be the first top-level luxury players to join the WTC retail space which would give then high visibility from the throngs of tourists visiting the site. Would that translate into sales, especially for a stratospherically priced label like Tom Ford? Perhaps Armani is considering a less expensive Emporio or even A|X unit for the space. It is all hard to gauge, especially when the original WTC shopping mall was more of a chain-store shopping center with stores like Gap, Borders and Express. Currently, the most biggest retailer in the immediate area is still discounter Century 21, which, though recently expanded and upgraded, is still not on the level of an international luxury brand. A small-scale Brooks Brothers is nearby as well. Nobody from Armani, Tom Ford or Tiffany had any comments for The Real Deal, so, for the moment we are left wondering whether these luxury brands see real opportunity at the World Trade Center or are just kicking tires.

Tom Ford, Tiffany, Armani to take WTC street retail: sources (The Real Deal)


J&R Shuts Down Its Superstore For Redevelopment And Promises To Reopen In 2015

JRremodelAfter a few weeks of rumors that it was shutting down for good, J&R has indeed closed the doors of its multi-level electronics superstore, promising that it would return to its familiar Park Row location when the site had been redeveloped in 2015. Over the past several months, J&R has been systematically vacating the various stores along the street that held its photography, music and housewares stores, and now the main electronics location closes today. What may be raising a few eyebrows is that the retailer has apparently chosen not to open an alternate, temporary location to maintain its business during the redevelopment, though it will continue to sell merchandise through its online store. The six-story building will be reclad in glass, and presumably reopen with the electronics retailer inside. In a letter to customers published on the store website J&R's owners call the proposed remodel (rendering pictured at left) an "unprecedented retailing concept and social mecca", with more details to be announced.

Park Row Redevelopment (J&R Official Site)


Is Calvin Klein Taking Over Bleecker Street's Manatus Restaurant?

The last place to get a full, well priced meal on the designer stretch of Bleecker Street bewteen Christopher and Hudson Streets closed last night amid rumors that a Calvin Klein boutique was coming in to take over the space. Not too many West Villagers sound pleased to say goodbye to the Manatus, a three-decade or so fixture just off Christopher that has reportedly been the kind of friendly (and affordable), neighborhood Greek diner that seems to exist only on TV shows anymore. The restaurant's demise was forewarned nearly a year ago by Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, which followed up over the weekend with the news that its rent would have been hiked up to $50,000 per month if it had stayed. Calvin Klein rumor also stems from the blog, and it makes a certain amount of sense that a designer label which would require a certain amount of room would jump on one of the rare large scale spaces on Bleecker to become available. As a remnant of Bleecker Street's only slightly humbler past, Manatus was something of an outlier among the fashion and beauty stores, but that's not to say that designer shoppers don't need a place to sit and have a nice club sandwich.

Now to Calvin. If the brand is indeed interested in (or even already in control of) the space, one presumes that it would be to open a new Collection boutique, which would be only other one in America besides the flagship Madison Avenue store. Francisco Costa's designs for the premium label have thrilled critics and red carpet denizens in the years since he took over for Calvin himself. Unfortunately, Costa's different design point of view, changes in production arrangements and the introduction of the mid-range department store Calvin Klein label have decimated the brand's high-end women's business over the years. New management at the brand and at parent company PVH has vowed to reverse this state of affairs and refocus some corporate attention on its top label. A brand new boutique in a hip location could go a long way to burnishing Calvin's status among customers. Keep an eye out for some signage on Bleecker Street to let us know more, and keep walking toward Seventh Avenue if you are getting hungry.

Manatus: Vanishing (Vanishing New York)


Could Neiman Marcus Be Opening A Flagship In Manhattan?

Here's a rumor that comes with a healthy helping of built-in skepticism. The New York Post is reporting that Neiman Marcus is negotiating for a flagship sized store that would open in 2018 in the upcoming Hudson Yards development being in the West 30's. This would fly in the face of the chain's longtime policy of opening branches around New York City in New Jersey and Westchester, but never within Manhattan as to not directly compete with or cannibalize the huge business generated by sibling store Bergdorf Goodman. Conversely, Bergdorf's has not expanded beyond its Men's and Women's stores at 58th Street and Fifth Avenue because any U.S. city with expansion potential would already have at least one Neiman Marcus store already thriving. Why change that now? Neiman Marcus Group has new owners who will be anxious for a return on their investment, and the luxury market in New York has grown to the point where some might be convinced that there's enough business for both stores. There are breathless real estate "sources" who are salivating at the prospect of a 200,000 square foot Neiman Marcus flagship anchoring the Hudson Yards complex whose retail component has yet to fully take shape. Also, Nordstom is set to open its first Manhattan store in 2018, at 57th Street and Broadway which would add even more retail action on Manhattan's western half. There's just one thing...
Location, location location.
Bergdorf issues aside, is Neiman Marcus the type of company that would risk opening a costly flagship sized store on 10th Avenue in the West 30s where there is currently nothing, and where there has never been any kind of retail district to speak of? Common wisdom would say no, but stranger things have been known to happen.
Of course, we have heard many times from real estate sources about confirmed deals like Nordstrom at the former Drake Hotel site, or Barneys in the Meatpacking district that never materialized, so one newspaper report doesn't not necessarily make a signed deal. If this does happen, however, it could mean big changes not only for Neiman Marcus but also Bergdorf's. If NMG is willing to bring Neiman's to Manhattan, then it also might be considering finally expanding Bergdorf's into other cities. Or not. Who knows? Stay tuned to see how, or even if, this story develops.

Neiman eyes Hudson Yards for 1st NYC store (NYPost)



Another Sample Sale Spells Trouble
For Monika Chiang
+ Nanette Lepore's Archive, Marimekko & Escada

ChaingLookDo we really need to wonder anymore just what is going on at MONIKA CHIANG?
Just a few weeks ago, the designer held a sample sale with super deep discounts of 80% to 90% off and more. This was on the heels of months of rumors that the designer's business had been closed despite denials from Chiang's backer (and romantic companion) Chris Burch, the man also behind C.Wonder and former husband of designer Tory Burch. The "Everything Must Go" style sale re-ignited the whispers, which are now going to be fueled further by a weeklong encore of the sale at 225 Fifth Avenue starting on Monday. The Monika Chiang website is now in full clearance mode with a flat 50% off everything, and a broken "New Arrivals" link, and her stores were shuttered months ago.

The real question is not whether or not the company has been shut down —or at the very least suspended— which seems plain to see, but why Chaing and Burch won't just come out and confirm that the label is out of business. It's not like nobody is paying attention. On the plus side, it's another chance for $100 leather jackets and plenty more sleek, urbane sportswear at rock bottom prices.

In other Sale News, 

Today brings a return of NANETTE LEPORE's popular archive sale which promises pieces from her entire career including one-of-a-kind samples with everything under $100.

Legendary Finnish design brand MARIMEKKO will also begin a sale today a few blocks away form its flagship at 260 Fifth Avenue featuring clothing, home goods as well as bolts of its famous fabrics.

On Wednesday, Italian shoe wizard CESARE PACIOTTI kicks off a three day sale in midtown featuring deep discounts on the sleek footwear that made the brand famous for men, women and even children. 

ESCADA starts its seasonal sale on Thursday at Soiffer Haskin. Look for an abundance of the luxurious and glamorous women's apparel the brand is known for.

Also on Thursday, JOY GRYSON will be holding her seasonal sale in Tribeca featuring handbags and accessories and probably some lines.

For more details and additional sales check our SALE ROLL sidebar at left.


Will J.Crew & Uniqlo Become Siblings?

Here's an end-of-the-week rumor to give the retail world something to talk about while Mother Nature (or is it Evil Step-Mother Nature?) dumps another ton of snow on us: Japan's Fast Retailing, parent company of Uniqlo, Theory, Helmut Lang, Comptoir des Cotonniers and a few others, is in talks to buy J.Crew from it's private equity owners for around $5 billion.

TPG and Leonard Green & Partners LP, who took the company private in 2010 have been said to be preparing to cash out soon with a IPO, but they have also, apparently, been entertaining talks with possible suitors for a sale of the chain. Fast Retailing may not be the only one in the running, but with a market capitalization of ¥3.7 trillion ($36.33 billion), it looks like strong contender. J.Crew fills a niche, more upscale than Uniqlo and more broadly-based than Theory, that is not occupied by any other brand in Fast Retailing's stable. The Wall Street Journal says that talks are in the early stages and may lead to nothing, or they may lead to a gigantic retail merger.

Stay tuned.

J. Crew in Talks to be Sold to Japan's Fast Retailing (Wall Street Journal)


Is Niketown Exiting East 57th Street?


New York's most iconic sneaker store may be looking to relocate according to a report in The New York Post. Niketown's lease on East 57th Street is not up until 2017, but the Post's sources have the activewear giant sniffing around H&M's current store at 640 Fifth Avenue in expectations that it will become available when the Swedish fast fashion chain opens its even bigger flagship a few blocks south at 589 Fifth. For its part, H&M has stated previously that it intends to keep the original Fifth Avenue store —its first in the U.S.— open even though the two stores will be only a couple of blocks apart. These things can always change, especially considering the staggering rent on one of the world's costliest stretches of real estate. H&M also already has a deep atrium space in the store that mirrors Niketown's, making a possible retrofitting much less complicated, and therefore an easier move to an address with an even higher profile than the one it currently has.

Then there's the consideration of Nike's rumored plans in SoHo. The Post reports that the brand has its eye on a spot at 529 Broadway, where a new building is planned for a second full Niketown. That may change now that Hollister's huge flagship space just south of Houston Street on Broadway, could be available without having to wait for an entirely new building to be built —although major interior renovations would obviously still be required.

As for the current Niketown, its nostalgic stadium edifice appeared in the early 1990s, finally replacing a building that had been erected as an ill-fated attempt to relaunch beloved department store Bonwit Teller in New York. Next, it housed another failed effort to bring famed Parisian emporium Galeries Lafayette to the U.S which lasted only a couple of years. After that, many eyebrows were raised at the thought of a mass-market brand like Nike building a store right next to Tiffany & Co. on a block known for the most luxurious boutiques. Innovative design ultimately won over the snooty neighbors (or at least some of them) and Niketown immediately set the standard for an outsized, immersive brand retail experience. Since then, it has inspired Brand Palaces for both luxury and mass labels alike, but the next question is who will replace it if it leaves the whopping 80,000 square foot space? Will the imposing but highly brand-specific façade have to be replaced, and will Nike be able to build a similar one if and wherever it relocates? Will a subsequent tenant rebuild inside to capture the enormous amount of square footage that is lost to selling space as a dramatic but expensive open atrium? And, most significantly, will whoever moves in be another mass brand, or a luxury label more in keeping with the otherwise still extremely exclusive neighbors on East 57th Street? Stay tuned..

Nike’s got its eye on ritzy new Fifth Avenue digs (NYPost)


Is The Webster Coming To SoHo?

RACKED-the-webster-miami-soho-29-greene-stCan a luxury store designed for glamorous Miami transplant itself to New York? The New York Post says that The Webster, the Collins Avenue retailer featuring a covetable roster of designer labels, will be taking over a 4,000 square foot outpost at 29 Greene Street just below Grand Street in SoHo. The Webster may be best known to non-South Beach denizens as one of the first group of stores to participate in The Shops at Target last Spring. Will its signature pink flamingo survive the flight north? Owners Laure Heriard Dubreuil and Milan Vukmirovic have backgrounds in European fashion brands and retailers like Colette, Jil Sander, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, so they should fit right in if the store appears in SoHo. There's no confirmation from either the store or the owners of the building, but if the rumors are true, then it will be an interesting Fall if The Webster opens up at the same time as Comme des Garçon's Dover Street Market. Think of it as a luxury boutique Face-Off.

Pink flamingo seen in SoHo (NYPost via RACKED)
The Webster (Official Site)


Latest Nordstrom Rumors Focus On West 57th Street

1780BwayAt some point, Nordstrom will build a full-line store in Manhattan, but, for more than a decade, the question has been where? The chain has been placed at numerous sites in the city from the former Drake Hotel site at Park Avenue and 56th Street to the Hudson Yards development on the far West Side to any number of other spots around town WWD tells us that the latest location under serious consideration is in a skyscraper set to be built at 225 West 57th Street with a main entrance at 1780 Broadway. In a point of confusion, WWD has mistaken the building for another being developed by the same landlord at 157 West 57th Street between Sixth And Seventh Avenues which was also under serious consideration by Nordstrom. This more recent choice is reported to be under rapid development, and expected to be completed by the end of 2013, which could put a Nordstrom opening as early as Spring 2014.

There are pros and cons in many of the sites Nordstrom has considered, but this one looks like it may be  among the most favorable. Nordstrom almost always insists on its own buildout with its own very specific store design. This would be one of the rare sites in midtown Manhattan that would allow for this requirement. The corner store on Broadway and West 57th Street would put the chain in an area with a golden combination of wealthy residents, high tourist traffic and hotel density and close proximity to numerous subway lines. Nordstrom may never get an opportunity for a better location. Drawbacks may include the fact that the site is far west of Manhattan's luxury sweet spot which begins at 57th and Fifth and extends East to Park Avenue. Moving West on 57th street, one finds a less prestigious mix of stores heading toward Broadway, though Nordstrom's strength as a draw could ultimately change that. The Shops at Columbus Circle has already improved the area's retail mix somewhat. Still, its neighbors would include a TJMaxx and a (possibly faltering) Daffy's, not Chanel and Prada. The store ultimately could serve as a West Side counterpart to the Bloomingdale's Flagship at 59th and Lexington Avenue, creating a new luxury shopping corridor between Fifth and Broadway. After all, if there's any city that loves a new shopping corridor, it's New York.

As with any Nordstrom news, this is to be taken with more than a few grains of salt, but this rumor seems to have a lot of traction. Nothing is official without an announcement from the family-controlled company, and they have been notoriously picky, so stay tuned, and expect a twist or two.

Nordstrom Search for Manhattan Flagship Continues (WWD)
Nordstrom selects different West Side Extell space for its New York City flagship (The Real Deal)
Nordstrom finally coming to Manhattan (NYPost)


Will Stores Accept Simon Spurr The Label Without Its Namesake?


There is little news from the main players in the split of designer Simon Spurr from the company that bears his name as both the designer, his former business partner and the most of the retailers who carry the label have reserved comment about the surprising situation. In a follow up, WWD confirms several points including that the company was as blindsided by the development late last week as retailers and other followers of New York's menswear industry were. Company co-founder Judd Nydes is expected to continue the business without the designer, but influential Los Angeles stylist and retailer Ilaria Urbinati, a co-owner of the boutique Confederacy, which has carried the designer since he started the brand with a denim line, announced that she will not continue to sell the label without Spurr's involvement. “He was the heart and soul of the company. The brand is 100 percent about him and his aesthetic and vision. I don’t think it can survive without him,” she tells WWD.

Spurr's client list includes an enviable group of the most exclusive stores here and abroad like Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Maxfield and Jeffrey among others, and most of them have not commented on the situation, perhaps in hopes that it will resolve itself amicably. Will they be willing to risk continuing to carry an expensive line so closely associated with its designer's personal touch without him? Will this become a situation where a designer is bitterly separated from his own brand like that of Joseph Abboud, for example, or one where the designer bides his time and eventually regains control of his trademark, like Roland Mouret did?

One thing WWD clarifies is that Simon Spurr the person is still eligible for the CFDA Mens Designer of the Year Award for which he was nominated only days before he resigned.

Future of Simon Spurr Brand Up in the Air By David Lipke (WWD)

Today In Head-Scratchers: Simon Spurr Leaves Simon Spurr