Check Out ArchetypeMe's
Guide To Designer Collaborations
Featuring The Shophound

ArchetypeMeThere is no end to the Designer Collaboration craze (and why would we want one?). The Shophound and shopping maven Sample Sally talked to the new website ArchetypeMe about the ongoing trend that gives the average shopper just a taste of luxury designer style.

Check out their rundown HERE on what's coming up from retailers and their designer partners and how to get the most of these sometimes fleeting, blink-and-you'll-miss-them events.

Savvy Shopper: Tips for Shopping Designer Collaborations by Lisbeth Levine (ArchetypeMe)

Follow The Shophound On Twitter

TheShophoundtwitImage Something has been obviously missing from The Shophound for a while. We initially resisted the Twitter because we couldn't imagine our already fragmented attention split even further, and also because we thought if we started a feed we were going to have to get in some kind of war with Ashton Kutcher. We now understand that we can tweet without involving the Kutcher-Moores in any way, so please follow @theshophound where we'll tweet our posts and all the other random thoughts that pass through our mind.

Maybe in a while, we'll look into that Facebook thing people keep going on about...

Year-End Favorites—
Most & Least Part II


It's hard to beat a live mini-concert by adorable multiple Grammy Nominee Duffy topping off a cocktail party thrown by Escada and nightlife doyenne Amy Sacco to celebrate a new Escada shop in shop at Saks.
Let's forget that it happened on the eve of possibly the fastest economic downturn in anyone's memory. We just want to remember the catchy tunes.
We also don't want to forget the delightful discovery of Ralph Lauren's smartly styled fleet of the handsomest pedicab drivers we have ever seen.

It was juicy but disturbing. Take a Russian dairy mogul with a teenage daughter harboring Hilton-like aspirations (and we mean Paris, not Conrad) and you get a fly by night teen retail adventure that ended in tears and anger for the employees who couldn't beat a hasty retreat back to Moscow when it all went to hell. Good riddance, Kira Plastinina!

Too many stores have closed recently, but the most disappointing was the unforeseen shuttering of Té Casan, the innovative SoHo shoe retailer offering exclusive collections by up and coming designers as well as Natalie Portman's vegan footwear collection. This was a store that everyone loved, but it just didn't become profitable enough before the economy sucker punched it.
Linda Dresner's decision to leave New York and consolidate her efforts at her original Birmingham, Michigan store was also a great disappointment. Saks' decision to give away the store with early markdowns proved too much for the widely respected independent retailer to bear (or compete with). It's happening all over. Influential Los Angeles shopkeeper Tracey Ross has announced that she is closing up shop as well.

The apparent proliferation of premium denim, no, sorry, "Denim Based Lifestyle Brand" boutiques. They are just offering up more of what department stores are already clogged with anyway. Seven For All Mankind, True Religion and soon to open Rock & Republic have long since slipped from appealing to banal brands, but they seem unstoppable. Of course, we are exempting Jean Shop and Earnest Sewn from this pronouncement. You two we love. Don't change a thing.

Rag & Bone opened its first boutique on Christopher Street this fall, and a mere two months later doubled its space when a great location suddenly became available two doors down the street, splitting its stores into separate men's and women's shops.

The previously mentioned Marc Jacobs and John Bartlett shows top our list, but you can add Ports 1961's dreamy presentation featuring kooky hats and a surprise live concert from the Cowboy Junkies. And we can't forget to include hanging out in the VIP lounge after Rubin Singer's elegant Spring show.

Well there are two stores that were supposed to be open by now.
Obviously there was no way Topshop could have made their incredibly ambitious October opening date, but we hear they are right on track for Spring '09. We are expecting a huge party.
Ports 1961
has been coming soon for-ever. Please tell us they are opening up early next year.

Year-End Favorites—
Most & Least

We're dispensing with our usual obituary list of stores who have left us this year, because at the moment, it's just too Debbie Downer, and, to be honest, there have been so many closures in the past month that we can't keep track. However, we do feel compelled to take a quick look back at 2008 before we charge into '09.
Amid the year end gloom, there was still a lot to look back on and smile.

There were a lot of great new store openings this year, but one stood out. It's not a grand, flashy designer emporium, but a tiny boutique that reflects its owner's genuine fascination and affection for the merchandise. Leffot, an unassuming men's luxury shoe store at the corner of Christopher and Gay Streets in the West Village kept us coming back again and again just to see what new permutation of classic footwear was on display.
Devoted to ultra-luxurious handmade French and Italian labels, many of which are U.S. exclusives, owner Steven Taffel keeps close contact with his connoisseur customers through emails and a blog which chronicles in loving detail the latest arrivals and special appearances by vendors. Taffel is a specialist whose sophisticated taste level makes Prada's adventures in patchwork and metallics look like so much flashy crap.

Juicy Couture Fifth Avenue. Enough already!

Rosa Chá's bikini emporium on West Broadway is a glamorous jewel box of gilded frames and swimwear displayed as art pieces.
Jil Sander's SoHo flagship at Howard and Crosby streets was another stunner.

We have two for very different reasons.
John Bartlett opened his first signature boutique in late 2007, but it has been so impressive that he managed to score the plum job of revamping Liz Claiborne's men's line, debuting early next year. This coup helped him stage a return to the runways featuring his main men's collection in an intimate show in his own home. We love John mainly because he makes great clothes, but also because he consistently demonstrates a level of social grace unheard of in a business saddled with more than its share of prima donnas. He regularly spends the day in his West Village store, meeting customers, and what other designers do you know who send thank you notes to bloggers for attending their shows (or even assigns them seats)?
There's no shortage of press on Marc Jacobs, and his many eccentricities make him tabloid fodder on an almost daily basis. His penchant for posing nude for...well, apparently anyone with a camera would just be so much celebrity crackpot behavior if he hadn't sent out a Spring '09 collection that left even the most jaded showgoers breathless. It was the show of the season to see, if not of the past few years. As a retailer, Marc continues to give us tons of material. Instead of doing a Target or H&M collaboration, Marc knocks himself off with the newly defined Jacobs by Marc Jacobs label of affordable accessories and apparel, and offers it only in his own stores making it both accessible and exclusive.

Nobody needed a revamp more than Bloomingdale's Mens Department. In January they unveiled a new denim and sportswear floor in the sub-basement that opens on to the subway, and this fall, a larger renovation moved tailored clothing and shoes out of a series of cramped alcoves into a more prominent position. Regrettably titled No. 59 Metro and MOMENTUM, They are still only halfway through the renovation, but the improvements are immeasurable, pushing Bloomingdale's back to the forefront after a damaging lack of direction during the '90s.
Saks Fifth Avenue
has only revealed the first bits of its own long overdue third floor revamp, part of a larger program to upgrade the entire store. They are too far along not to finish the floor, but Saks, unfortunately, has a habit of canceling renovation plans at the slightest hint of a business challenge, which explains the moribund physical states of the second and fourth floors and the prolonged renovation interruptus that plagued the cosmetics department for so long. Let's hope they can fully finish their plans this time so that the store looks its best for customers when they are ready to shop again.

There were so many this year that we stopped keeping track. While UNIQLO's Designer Invitation program can be hit or miss, they mostly nailed it this year with Alexander Wang, Tim Hamilton and Loden Dager. H&M created more frenzy with Comme Des Garçons, but UNIQLO's collections were more affordable, and lasted more than a few hours in the store. Let's hope they keep it up.

Again, this trend is proliferating at a dizzying pace, but nobody pulled it off like Target's Bullseye Bodegas, a series of four temporary stores around the city featuring only the mass retailer's exclusive designer collaboration labels
Now, if we could just get a regular full sized Target somewhere here in the city...

We haven't written enough about Gilt Groupe an online retailer that launched this year to run limited sample sales for luxury designers. Such promises can bring all sorts of seasons old merchandise to your computer screen, but Gilt Groupe débuts a new sale almost every day featuring top designers (Alexander McQueen, Oscar de la Renta, John Varvatos etc.), current merchandise and full size ranges, all at a minimum of 60% off, sometimes more. They quickly added menswear, children's and accessories, and have now become an indispensable resource. Click here for an invitation, and shop away, but be quick about it. New sales open at noon, and many items often sell out before the first hour has passed.

The Tuesday Spree

The Shophound Headquarters are moving this week, so posting might be a little bit lighter than usual. In the meantime, our friends have plenty to entertain you until we are back at full speed.

Kamali1Walmart is making itself harder to hate by introducing a new collection from America's most underrated designer, Norma Kamali just in time for the '80s revival. If you can't bear to give your money to Walmart, you can still buy the stunningly inexpensive collection from Norma herself. (NK for Walmart at Norma Kamali)
Mondo Kim's, the flagship for New York's most eclectic video entertainment chain is shuttering, but the much loved but somewhat diminished retailer continues to soldier on. (RACKED)
JCPenney is adding Allen B. by Allen B. Schwartz (of ABS) to its growing stable of designer exclusives. They may be copying Target, but they may also be doing it better. (WWD)
• Even people who make shoes are astonished that there seems to be no limit to the height of heels and platforms that women will buy and wear. Twisted ankles be damned! (Wall Street Journal)
• Has George W. Bush actually done something good? He signed an anti-counterfeiting bill that gives the government morepower and resources to protect intellectual property and prosecute offenders. (WWD & White House Press Release)
• Now that everyone is used to the idea of visible bras and bustiers, the next thing is panties on the outside. Please, spare us. (Style File)
Apple introduces newly refreshed and redesigned laptop models that will render obsolete whatever you are using, as well as other as yet unidentified items today. (AppleInsider)
Pradaphone2• People should be getting excited about the new Prada phone with a sliding keyboard, but since no U.S. wireless carriers support it, it's still going to be hideously expensive and not appreciably better than an iPhone. (Material Interest)

Happy New Year

Posting may be a little light on The Shophound for the next couple of days due to the Jewish Holidays.
We'll be back in full force on Wednesday. In the meantime we'll be busy counting the black models from the major Paris Prêt à Porter shows.
As regular readers know The Shophound doesn't normally get that political, but this is an intriguing issue for us, and we think it's important.
Have some apples & honey, and we'll see you in a few days.

Advertiser Amour:

Click Early And Often

We don't do this often enough, but we just want to remind our dear Shophounders to visit our kind advertisers by clicking to the right.

• The fine folks at American Apparel have seen fit to ignore our occasional barbs and are just a click away.
 Fuerza Bruta
is a not-to-be-missed theatrical experience at the Daryl Roth Theater from the creators of De La Guarda.

We promise their websites won't eat your computer or leave a messy trail of crumbs, and they may have wondrous things in store for you.