Bedbug Infestation Closes Hollister

HollisterBEDBUGS Now, bedbugs, as any self respecting NYC apartment dweller knows, are no laughing matter...except maybe in this case.

Apparently, the giant "Epic" Hollister in SoHo has been closed to rid the building and its contents of a particularly severe bedbug infestation. It had gotten so bad that employees (who are typically expected to wear flip flops this time of year) were getting bitten, and finding bedbugs and their exoskeletons on their clothes!

We are told that the three shirtless models who normally stand outside and welcome customers are currently informing them that the store will be closed for a few days.

According to Gothamist, workers have been complaining about the bugs for weeks, and were brushed off by management until today. Evidently, nobody at Hollister HQ fully understood exactly what a scourge bedbugs can be, and probably only figured out yesterday that having a store infested by bedbugs meant that customers buying clothing there could easily transfer the infestation to their own homes —leading to the inevitable lawsuits.

Of course, knowing their priorities, those folks at Abercrombie & Fitch also probably realized that their fresh faced Hollister sales staff wouldn't look so cute covered with bug bites, and since bedbugs feed only at night, you can imagine how much fun they were having in a store that is kept as dark as a vampire's lair at all times. Oh, the stupidity is mind boggling.

The store is reportedly expected to re-open in a few days, which sounds like wishful thinking, but we are willing to bet that more than a few businesses on that block of Broadway are taking a good look around to make sure that the infestation has remained contained.

Bedbugs Shut Down Hollister Store in SoHo (Gothamist)
Bedbugs Close Store (Wall Street Journal) all via The Cut

Shopping Hazard Alert:

City Of Exploding Stores

We don't want to alarm you, but Manhattan's stores seem to be exploding, and not in a droll Monty Python-ish sort of way.
A few days ago it was the Village Paper party store at Greenwich and West 10th, and yesterday it was the Radio Shack on Sixth Avenue between 19th and 20th streets. We saw the blackened building yesterday afternoon after the street had been shut down by firefighters, but earlier in the day a transformer under the sidewalk at no. 641 exploded, sending seven stories of flames into the air. Miraculously, nobody appears to have been injured.
So far it has been cheap paper stores and fading electronics chains in downtown Manhattan that have been affected, but one more retail explosion this week means that there is officially a conspiracy.
Transformer Blast Damages Building in Chelsea (City Room-NYTimes)

Everything Must Go Redux:

In Which Cleo & Patek
Continues To Irk Us

Every now and then we put a post out there that quietly, but steadily attracts attention thanks to the miracle of Google. Almost exactly a year ago we wrote about Cleo & Patek, a chain of handbag stores throughout the city that were notorious for their constant deep discounting which suggested that they were selling expensive designer merchandise at a  bargain price. In fact, the discount was a scam, and none of their bags were ever sold at the inflated "full retail" prices. In fact, from our observation of the bags' quality (or lack thereof) it was unlikely that they were even worth the discount prices. We decided to revisit them one year later.
A year ago, we noticed that the signs in the windows had suddenly grown larger, along with the discount which was now up to 90% with the tagline, "Everything must go", suggesting that the chain may have finally been done for. Perhaps the recession had finally done consumers a favor, or maybe they were just amplifying the scam, adding a cheap "Going out of business (but not really)" ploy. In the year since that post ran, we have gotten a comment every few weeks from Cleo & Patek customers whose reports ranged from chagrin at falling for the scam to satisfaction with their purchases whatever they paid for them. Comments tended to lean towards the former, and we are fairly sure a few of the latter were plants, but still, Cleo & Patek continues to elicit attention.
Obviously, the stores are still with us, but in not terribly clever disguise. Those locations didn't close, but most have been renamed with vaguely European sounding names like Le Bo Paris, Eebele Paris, Mito Milan, Bocci+Bi Italia and de Navi Italia. A cursory inspection shows that these are the same stores with the same merchandise, all of it stamped with Cleo & Patek logos. And, as you can see above, the huge discount signs remain in the windows, easily making the upscale neighborhoods like SoHo and 57th Street where one finds them (along with lots of tourists, not coincidentally) look that much sleazier. These shops have become the retail equivalent of the neighbor who refuses to trim the hedges and mow the lawn, lowering property values for everyone.
Cleopatek57thclosing Last week, The Shophound visited one shop on West 57th street that had an actual "Store Closing" sign in the window, and the staff was quick to tell us they would be closing up "any day now". Crumpled up packaging paper strewn on the floor added to the air of impending shuttering, and yet we still wonder if the store has any actual plans to vacate. Overbearing staff aggressively made sure we were aware of the deep discounts. We had serious doubts that may of bags there were made of actual leather despite their "retail" prices of $500 and more. One style in a crocodile stamped material was actually priced over $1000, the gall of which still amazed us even though we knew it would probably only be sold for $100 or less. We hope this store really is closing, but we are not holding our breath. It will be one unit fewer of this shady chain.
You might ask, what's the big deal? Customers think they are getting a great deal, and they aren't ultimately paying very much. So what's wrong with that?
Basically it's the false advertising, the incredibly poor quality of the merchandise and the general sleaziness that we find so irksome. It's the same thing would annoy us about any chain of schlockhouses. Certainly, nobody who knows anything about accessories would be caught dead carrying one of those janky bags, but that doesn't excuse preying on the less sophisticated. We are pretty sure that it's illegal in some way or other to offer an impossibly deep "discount" on merchandise that was never legitimately offered at its wildly inflated full price, but who out there is actually going to monitor these things?
Allow us to issue an annual caveat: Stay away from Cleo & Patek and the stores that sell it. There are genuine bargains to be found in New York as well as great quality items at reasonable prices, just not at those places, no matter how stylish their neighbors may be. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
Everything Must Go: Is Cleo & Patek Shutting Down, Or Are They Just Trying To Fake Us Out?

Unsurprising Departures:

Onesole Abandons West Broadway

The question is not so much, "Why did Onesole fail in SoHo?" as it is, "How did it get there in the first place?"
We really didn't expect much from the, apparently very popular, shoe with interchangeable tops. After all, when it opened last summer, Onesole immediately struck us as a gimmicky, infomercial product that had become lost on its way to the outlet mall —seriously cringeworthy. The store certainly didn't look comfortably settled in urbane, fashion conscious SoHo, so it's no surprise to us that its brief residency there will soon be but a hazy memory.
Sorry you didn't fit in, Onesole, but seriously, What were you thinking?
This is New York City. Someone thoughtless fool have let Crocs in, but that doesn't mean we are ready to throw open the doors to every janky brand of shoes that comes skipping down the pike!
Footwear Up & Downtown: Onesole Lands In SoHo & Stuart Weitzman Expands Up And West

Fall 2010 Runway Violence Alert:

Dsquared2 Gets Thrashed And Pummeled For Fall

Was it just yesterday that we mentioned that the Men's Fall 2010 collections in Milan were looking dull and gray? Well, they are, but there are a few exceptions. It's been a few years since we got over our obsession with all things Dsquared2, but we have still found their runway photos consistently entertaining. Usually, they can be counted on for stellar model casting and styling —creating an always diverting parade of mostly fresh faced, occasionally trashy and often scantily clad hunks.
But not this season.
This time around, they have chosen to style their models to look as if someone took a 2X4 and smacked the shit out of them before they hit the runway.
It's different, no?
Bruised and blood-spattered, that's the look for next Fall, with models sporting all manner of black eyes, bloody noses and various other lacerations. And at the end, the designing Caten twins sported matching surgical gowns featuring little pink triangles and sprayed with blood, like a pair of cheery, little, gay, vivisectionists (Oh, and that's not a lady between them in the picture. It's Tokio Hotel lead singer Bill Kaulitz.). Perhaps they are making some kind of sophisticated intellectual statement, but let's face it, it's Dsquared2, and they have never exactly been seen as deep.
There are just so many different kinds of wrong going on here that we can't even begin to list them, as if the studded leather hockey jersey isn't enough to be upset about.
Definitely not dull and gray though.
It's probably good that they didn't invite Rihanna this year.
Dsquared2 and other Men's Fall 2010 collections can be viewed a in new, crisp full-screen mode

Today In Disgraceful Scandals:

H&M Caught Destroying
Excess Merchandise

H&Mpopup Today's New York Times contains one article that should infuriate pretty much anyone who has given a thought to those in need or gone to the trouble of donating old clothes and other discarded items to charity rather than simply dumping them in the trash.
Jim Dwyer reports that those who make it a habit to scrounge the city's alleyways have regularly been finding large amounts of unworn, deliberately damaged clothing amongst the trash bins behind H&M's Herald Square branch. Presumably, these are excess, unsold items that have survived final clearance sales. It is suggested that rather than send them to outlets, the company is destroying the merchandise so it cannot be sold through unauthorized channels. While the few salvageable pieces regularly go to patient scavengers, one can only assume that the bulk of these goods go to area landfills rather than the countless disadvantaged people who could make good use of them.
If this is a chain-wide practice, multiply the waste by the number of H&M branches around the country, or even the world and marvel at the astonishing environmental disregard, not to mention huge missed opportunity to clothe the needy, of which any New Yorker knows, there are many. Imagine, at least, the many thrift shops in the city like Housing Works, to name only one, who could at least easily resell the goods and allocate the proceeds to any number of charities.
Apparently, similar discarded items from a Walmart contractor were found in the same neighborhood, but while the American mega-chain insists that this is not its practice, repeated inquiries to H&M headquarters by The Times have gone unanswered.
We will be watching this story develop. It is the sort of thing that gets picked up by the local news and goes national within days. We hope for the sake of people who are in desperate need of coats and other fresh clothes that it gets as much attention as possible.
About New York: A Clothing Clearance Where More Than Just the Prices Have Been Slashed by Jim Dwyer (NYTimes)
Today's Times reports that H&M has promised to halt the practice of destroying new, unworn clothes in its New York stores or anywhere else, and that it is not one of the store's standard policies.
Clothing Retailer Says It Will No Longer Destroy Unworn Garments by Jim Dwyer (NYTimes)

Can Someone Please Explain?:

The Mysterious UGG Line

We have become accustomed to regularly seeing lines outside some stores like the Marc by Marc Jacobs accessory store on Bleecker Street, Abercrombie & Fitch on Fifth Avenue or the crowd of fanatic collectors outside A Bathing Ape in SoHo when new items are released.
But UGGs?
There has been a line outside that store all month, and now that Christmas is over, it's still there. The picture above was taken at around 3 PM yesterday —a Monday. (Apparently, the line is forced to break in front of the art gallery next to the Ugg boutique, but continues down the block.)
Aren't there tons of places in the city that sell these things? What is the matter with these people?
We were hoping that Uggs were one of those trends that would die with the end of the '00s like trucker hats or (please!!) Crocs.
Apparently, it's going to take a little longer than that.

More Christmas Creep:

In Which We Are Further Annoyed
By Barneys & Cartier

We are not really given to ranting that much over here at The Shophound, but last week we felt compelled to express our displeasure at seeing early Christmas decorations going up before Halloween at the Bloomingdale's flagship on 59th Street. Well, Halloween has just passed, but its still too early, and we were disappointed to see that both Barneys and Cartier are also jumping the gun.
Let's clarify.
We don't want to see Christmas trees and tinsel until we do, and not a moment before.
It's like seeing someone in a gorgeous winter coat in September. You know someone can't wait to wear this fabulous thing, but no matter how stupendous it may be, it's still ridiculously out of season. That's how we felt about Barney's main floor yesterday (pictured above). We are actually excited about their "Saturday Night Live" inspired Holiday theme, we just don't want to see it until it's time.
As for Cartier (below with Saks), their decorations are the same as they are every year, so what's the rush? They stick out like quite the sore thumb at the moment.
Saks Fifth Avenue gets a reprieve. Although they already have their animated snowflake light show installed on the Fifth Avenue storefront, it isn't turned on, and the main floor, as of yesterday, is still happily free of Holiday décor.
Of the big stores we surveyed this week, only Bergdorf Goodman remains untouched by Holiday Elves. Though their current windows, created in conjunction with Dell Computers, are incredibly lavish, they are not in fact the store's Holiday windows, as some other bloggers had assumed.
When will we be ready for Holiday decorations?
The week before Thanksgiving at the earliest
So to recap:
It's still too early for Christmas decorations.
Gold Star for Bergdorf's.
Booby Prizes for Barneys and Cartier.
That is all.
Today In Jumping The Gun: In Which We Get Annoyed By Christmas In October


A Critical Shopper Falls:

Mike Albo Goes Shopping No More

Daily Intel tells us that Mike Albo, who shares Critical Shopper duties with Cintra Wilson in the Thursday Styles has penned his last column for the New York Times.
The kerfuffle stems from a "Jetmystery" media junket sponsored by the email newsletter Thrillist and JetBlue in which invitees were instructed to appear at the airport with their bags and a passport for a trip to points unknown. Those who showed up (including Albo) found themselves in Jamaica (that's the island, not Queens) where unforeseen calamities sent some to the hospital.
But the significance here is that The New York Times, has strict rules about accepting such lavish free entertainments which extend to its freelancers, including Mike.
We'll miss needling Mike about his idiosyncrasies and shopping neuroses, but this may not be the last we have heard from the multitasker. His comment to DI: "I look forward to trying on cashmere sweaters I can’t afford for other publications."
On a related note we want to make it clear that here at The Shophound we are bound by no such strict rules, and are happy to accept all swag, which we will duly report about for better or worse (unless, of course, The Times comes calling). Keep that free stuff coming. We ain't gonna fire ourself.
Thrillist Junket Fallout: Times Freelancer Mike Albo Fired & Thrillist Jamaica Junket Sends Partiers to Hospital (Daily Intel/NY Magazine)

Sample Sale War:

Varvatos vs. Varvatos Next Week

click image to enlarge
John Varvatos has never been afraid of a sample sale. they seem to run frequently in New York, and we are willing to bet that he is featured on Gilt Groupe more often than any other designer. It hasn't appeared to hurt his business at retail, but the test will come next week when not one but two big Varvatos sales hit Manhattan.
The first is the familiar semi-annual sale run by Misorena Ltd. at 260 Fifth Avenue from Thursday the 22nd to Saturday the 24th. As usual, this sale offers prices up to 75% off retail, and regulars will recognize it as an excellent source for great buys.
The newcomer to the mix is a John Varvatos Warehouse Sale scheduled for the same Friday and Saturday at Metropolitan Pavilion. This one will require an RSVP at, which has apparently not been properly set up yet (try it on Monday).
So which one is the real Varvatos Sale? Or better, which one will have the best deals? Even better, isn't there someone at John Varvatos who is supposed to keep this sort of thing from happening?