Back From A Break

The Shophound is back from a few days off.
Who's going to say no to a few quiet days in The Hamptons? Not us, that's for sure.
We haven't really been out there much, and we had thought that we might have a chance to do a little shopping and report back to you about all the fabulous shops. We realized as we walked along Main Street and Jobs Lane, however, that most of the stores are just smaller branches of what we have in Manhattan (Theory, J.Crew, Saks, etc.), and while they are perfectly fine, they're not even on sale yet, so we didn't really feel that we were missing too much by lolling on the beach and floating in the pool for a couple of days.
After all, what's a vacation for, anyway?

Shophound Previews: American Eagle Hatches Martin + Osa


Another Family Holiday, another trip to the mall. Regular Shophounders may have noticed that while New York City is our usual stomping ground, we do like the occasional detour to the mall. That mall is often Tyson's Corner Center in in McLean Virginia, just outside of Washington DC, and one of the reasons we like it is because invariably we will find something new that has yet to make it to New York. Sometimes it's a promising concept (Cusp) or other times it's an uninspired expansion vehicle that adds nothing to the retail scene but looks poised to make lots of cash anyway (Ruehl). This time we were in search of Martin + Osa, a new store concept from American Eagle Outfitters. Frankly, we suspected that it would fall into the latter, uninspired category. After all, American Eagle has a sort of "Abercrombie knock-off" reputation, so we were wondering how an offshoot could possibly express any more originality that the mother ship. Well, nobody is happier to be pleasantly surprised than The Shophound. We loved Martin + Osa. It's the anti-Ruehl. Four locations around the country are up and running, including Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and Newport Beach California in addition to Tyson's, and we can't wait for one to open in Manhattan.

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The Times Goes To the Mall

600_storefront On Wednesday, The New York Times sent Michael Barbaro to one of our hometown malls, Tyson's Corner Center, to investigate the latest phenomenon in retail store design, lots of style, but no windows. We went there to tell you about Ruehl and Cusp. Barbaro focuses on branches from our old friends Abercrombie & Fitch, and its spawn, Ruehl and Hollister as well as Martin & Osa, a new division of American Eagle that we will check out soon. Unlike most mall store's plate glass fronts, these façades are so architecturally heavy that they completely obscure what is for sale inside, and in the case of Ruehl, easily mislead customers.

Marc Caudill, who is 50 and a conservative dresser, stopped into the Ruehl at a mall in suburban Virginia recently looking for clothes and was overwhelmed by loud, pulsating music, a staff of skimpily dressed teenagers and stacks of T-shirts that read “Friday is casual sex day.”
A helpful employee told him the store was for college students and pointed him to the door. “The problem,” said Mr. Caudill, standing outside the store, “is that you really had to guess what it was until you got in.”

Welcome to the warm, gracious embrace of Ruehl, Marc. We love Abercrombie's response even better.

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Hide and Seek in Georgetown: Relish Thrives in Cady's Alley


You may have noticed that The Shophound is out of town, but we're making the most of our trip because wherever you are, you can always shop. Shopping in Washington lately has started to feel more and more like shopping in New York when a walk in Georgetown finds us passing Intermix, Dean & DeLuca and any number of chain stores replicated in both cities. Even Ralph Lauren has taken the original site of Britches of Georgetowne, one of the first stores to carry his label. Further uptown, Wisconsin Avenue is starting to look like Madison as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Barney's Co-op and Bulgari have quickly settled in, and Hecht's, the last of DC's hometown department stores is set to be absorbed into Macy's in a matter of weeks. A little hunting around Georgetown finds relief from the growing homogeneity in the form of Relish, a boutique that has been growing for more than a decade into a world class destination, which is good because the expansive store is hidden in Cady's Alley, a recently revived walkway just below M Street that would be easily missed in a cursory survey of  the neighborhood.

More after the jump

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Neiman Marcus' Cusp Builds a Loft in the Mall


Last month we told you about Neiman Marcus's new contemporary specialty concept, Cusp which is currently being launched as an answer to expanding competitors like  Barney's Co-op, Scoop and Intermix. Well, we have been down to Tyson's Corner Center in McLean Virginia to see the very first of four planned units. If you were expecting a clone of those stores we can report that the fine people at The Neiman Marcus Group have taken all the best elements of their potential competitors and mixed them up into something all its own.
A full report after the jump

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Abercrombie Strikes Again Part II: Following A Pointless Ruehl

Img_0843Our travels have taken The Shophound outside of our comfy New York City home, so since we are out of town, we decided to take a jaunt to the mall to see what a real Ruehl store looks like. Earlier we investigated their bite-sized accessories store teasing us on Bleecker Street, and promised a full report on the total concept, so here we are, although “total concept” may be something of an exaggeration.
It must be noted that we were not at just any mall, we went to Tyson’s Corner Center in McLean Virginia, one of those malls that get the most updated versions of any retailer’s offerings. Companies like to test things there, so if there are new ideas to try out, you will find them at Tyson’s. So here is where we found Ruehl, a few doors down from its parent, Abercrombie & Fitch which is right next to little brother Hollister, one retail family clustered close enough to pitch spitballs at each other. What we found at Ruehl was even less than we expected. Let us explain after the jump:

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