The Barneys Warehouse Sale Is A Miserable Affair

There used to be a time when we could all get excited for the Barneys Warehouse Sale.
Sure, it wasn't for amateurs. It was in a grotty basement that required patience and skill to negotiate —and then there were the crowds and the lines, but it was worth it for the thrill of the scavenger hunt as well as the satisfaction achieved when finding a great price on something one could never afford at full price, or even on a regular markdown in a regular Barneys store. Maybe it was even something one had one's eye on all season that appeared as if summoned by magic.
Well those days are long gone, and we figured that once Barneys started a year round Warehouse Sale website offering its own merchandise from previous seasons as well as overstock from its regular vendors there would be no point in continuing the in-person event sale. Why would we need to go to the Warehouse Sale when the best stuff was being funneled to the website? It seemed like a more up to date way to clear old stock anyway, but the seasonal, then annual Warehouse Sale persisted as the merchandise became less and less appealing and the event drifted into irrelevancy. A couple of years ago, it appeared to be gone for good, but then, last week, it reappeared, this time in a raw retail space on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg (pictured above). Could it be returning because the folks at Barneys have found a way to make it relevant again? Will it be cooler because its in Williamsburg? Is it worth revisiting?
The answer, sadly, is no on all counts.
The Shophound stopped by on the sale's first day, when it seems not fully set up, so we gave it the benefit of the doubt and checked back over the weekend to find that, yes, it had now been completely laid out and stocked, but still was a mess. In a space far too small for the amount of merchandise being offered, we found racks packed full of clothing crammed together to the point where it was nearly impossible to see what was being offered without tugging at garments and breaking hangers —if not damaging the clothes themselves. Barely categorized, there was little attempt to arrange things by size in the most rudimentary ways. In other areas, boxes were set out for shoppers to rummage through, many of which were filled with merchandise that may have been sold on the Warehouse Sale site, but probably never in an actual Barneys store. There was no attempt to separate designers, so the meant that a crazy Hood by Air showpiece was crammed on the rack by a Marc by Marc Jacobs bomber jacket from a past season and some of the Justin Bieber tour apparel that was touted as a prized exclusive in Chelsea only a few weeks ago. Clearly that was a merchandising mis-step.
Are there no gems to be found? Maybe there are some, but this Warehouse is more of a needle-in-a-haystack project than we have ever seen. And rather than imagining that one might find something good while rummaging around, one's mind quickly shifts to wondering if there is really anything we really need there, and then to questioning if it is really worth the time and trouble?
As far as we can tell, it is not.
Additional discounts have already started, but we will not be chronicling them as we once did. You have until the 14th to shop, but don't feel that you have missed anything if you don't bother. There are better opportunities to find better bargains these days. You don't have to subject yourself to this sloppy display to get them.

Barneys Warehouse Sale runs through September 14th at 280 Metropolitan Avenue between Driggs Avenue & Roebling Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


Opening Ceremony's Big Sale Starts Friday + More Additions

We said to keep en eye out for late breaking sales, and a seasonal favorite just dropped it flyer today. The OPENING CEREMONY starts this Friday the 26th at Villain in Williamsburg. Expect long lines, deep discounts and a jumble of designer labels from the retailer's vast roster of directional designers. For the uninitiated, this sale is usually hit or miss, but mostly hit. You can't really approach it with the idea of finding a particular item, but with the attitude of being open to finding something cool in your size for a deeply discounted price. Go on the last day and the selection will be diminished, but then so will the prices, making it the perfect opportunity for even better unexpected fines. Go early, and bring lots of patience and imagination.

Also late breaking, ILLESTEVA sunglasses and the Burch sisters' modern lifestyle collection TRADEMARK both to be found in convenient SoHo. See our SALE ROLL at left for details and locations.

Have a look at the Opening Ceremony flyer after the jump.

Continue reading "SAMPLE CIRCUIT ALERT:

Opening Ceremony's Big Sale Starts Friday + More Additions" »


Opening Ceremony's Sample Sale Will Move To Williamsburg This Friday

It was inevitable that, at some point, a major sample sale would head out of Manhattan into Brooklyn, and now we hear word that, after trying out various spaces in SoHo and Chelsea, OPENING CEREMONY will be holding its highly anticipated sample sale in Williamsburg this weekend at 50 N. 3rd Street. Expect the same lines and crowds, just in a far cooler location that may entail some more slightly extensive transit.

See our SALE ROLL at left for more details, and start saving up.


Outer Borough Home Style Edition

26zCRITICAL3-superJumboThis Week's Thursday Styles sends Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica on a home decor shopping tour of Brooklyn's tonier neighborhoods. Our shopper ascribes the Brooklynian vogue for artisanal, handcrafted home decor to a reaction against the peculiar mix of mid-century modern, thrift shop and camp aesthetics that has typified influential designer Jonathan Adler's style. Now, the whimsy-weary of Kings County have turned to handcrafted, limited edition accouterments, and from what we can tell, they are on their way to turning them into just as much of a hackneyed cliché, proving that there is no trend that New Yorkers cannot hammer until we can no longer bear to look at it.
But, we haven't gotten to the maximum saturation point yet, so Caraminaca hits several hotspots starting at Williamsburg's Joinery, where in addition to the fashion offerings, we find wooden bowls and enamel colanders. Next it's on to Beam, home of brightly colored but kitsch-free options and then to the more sophisticated but somewhat arid Abode, where the offerings lack soul. "...the charm of these pieces is largely digital. Almost certainly, they were designed on a computer, even if it was one with, like, an X-Girl sticker on it," he complains. Then it's on to The Primary Essentials in Boerum Hill, "a calm white space on a thriving strip of Atlantic Avenue now in its second wave of commercial gentrification," that seems to fit his requirements, calling it a "shrine of the small batch". But what will happen when those Clam Lab infinity bowls start looking tired? Time to chase another trend.

Critical Shopper: Spoons for the Picky By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)


Displaced Style Edition

01zCRITICAL3-superJumboToday's Thursday Styles delivers Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica bemoaning the rampant democratization of fashion thanks to the knowledge proliferating effects of the information superhighway. As luxury goods become ever less accessible by price, they are becoming more well known to internet fans in inverse proportion. Best kept secrets are not secrets for very long at all thanks to Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and any number of other social media platforms. At the same time, Our Shopper is a premier perpetrator of this trend himself by alerting us all to Williamsburg's Idol, an exclusive, luxury men's fashion store which is supposedly looking to stay off the beaten path by opening in one of the city's most talked about neighborhoods (Paradoxes abound in this week's Critical Shopper).

Now, what Idol is doing on this block, in this neighborhood, remains a mystery unsolved. It belongs in the troposphere, in a dystopian sci-fi screenplay, or at the very least in the West Village.
It’s not here because of a belief in the ascendant wealth of Williamsburg, or even a belief that the marketplace demands it. It exists more because of a desire to have a place not everyone knows about. The type of place that can take on items that make little to no sense, just because a few people understand.

It sounds sort of like a somewhat less Goth-y version of Atelier, the by-appointment, exclusive-to-a-fault men's boutique whose quest for innocuousness took it from Crosby Street in SoHo to Hudson Street to 11th Avenue to, eventually, oblivion according to Yelp! which currently lists it as reportedly closed. Apparently, Atelier's next step to exclusive inaccessibility could only have been on a barge in the middle of the Hudson River, but we digress. Idol may seem slightly out of place in Williamsburg at the moment, but it's hard to imagine any store opening there as a way to keep a low profile, especially knowing the fate of Atelier with which it shares several vendors. Furthermore, a write-up in the Times only a few weeks after opening is hardly the M.O. of a store trying to lurk in the shadows. Besides, that neighborhood is expanding in so many directions so quickly that it's not hard to imagine serious customers coming around to Idol before long, so enjoy its enjoy its "exclusivity" while you can. 

Critical Shopper: A Mystery Beyond Price Tags By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Idol 101 Metropolitan Avenue between Wythe Avenue & Berry Street, Williamsburg


Chain In Disguise Edition

10zCRITCAL4-superJumboToday's Thursday Styles sends Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica to Williamsburg's new Urban Outfitters concept store, Space Ninety 8, a supersized version of the familiar chain. Given Williamsburg's constantly evolving gentrification, it's hard to tell if this new, deluxe version of the chain is ruining the neighborhood's prized hipster bohemia or holding its ground against the onslaught of even more luxurious, gleaming high rises coming to suburbanize the place. "Williamsburg is already a 4.0 or 5.0 version of itself — there’s nothing left to protect," our shopper reminds us. This store seems to be prepared for your scrutiny. It is working hard to win over skeptics by making room for Brooklyn's local artisans to show their wares as if to make up for the rest of the store's mass-produced merch as well as the long-standing whisperings that the chain is really run by evil, corporate overlords. It's an Urban Outfitters tarted up for people who hate Urban Outfitters.

These are reminders, these missives, that Urban Outfitters knows you have come with your white gloves and magnifying glass, prepared for inspection. Has it succeeded in making this store, parts of which are merchandised specifically to reflect artisanal Brooklyn, sufficiently non-Urban Outfitters-esque? Is the wool over your eyes thick enough?

It turns out that the wool is only as thick as you want it to be. The local wares are worthwhile, but expensive art pieces show Space Ninety 8 trying to play both sides of the fence.

Critical Shopper: In a Fight for Everything Brooklyn By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Space Ninety 8 98 North Sixth Street between Berry Street & Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg


Unlikely Thug Edition

06ZCRITICAL2-superJumboIn today's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica appears to have been in an oddly poetic mood while writing about Williamsburg's Kinfolk, framing his review with extened thoughts on the evolution of an aging thug.

A thug ages. Slows down. Softens. Begins to look both ways when crossing the street. Walks a little more slowly around older people. Looks babies in the eye, and smiles.

And it goes on from there. Maybe he was a little drunk. Who can say?

We aren't really sure if our shopper was referring to himself (which seems kind of unlikely) or the owners of Kinfolk, who, while burly and tattooed, may not or may not particularly appreciate being identified as any sort of thug, former or otherwise, in The New York Times. It is, after all, kind of a strong word with all sorts of potentially inappropriate implications. Ultimately, we really don't know who this mythical thug is supposed to be, especially since the archetypal Williamsburg male is more of a skinny hipster. Anyway, the store doesn't sound all that thuggish at all what with the $1,100 biker jackets and the Maharishi trench coats and the nautical striped shirts. It sounds like a store pitched to the guy who has been studying his menswear blogs and is ready to share what he has learned with the like-minded, which is perfectly fine, even appealing without all the ex-thuggishness.

Critical Shopper: Catering to the Refined Ruffian By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Kinfolk 94 Wythe Avenue at N. 11th Street, Williamsburg


Outer-Borough Indie Edition

06zCRITICAL4-superJumboIn this week's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Alexandra Jacobs heads to Williamsburg and spends bit of time bemoaning the turbo-charged gentrification of the neighborhood from youthful bohemian enclave to luxury hi-rise destination. Shocked to see Chanel and Prada placards in an optical window (which she shouldn't be, since designer eyewear is always the most widely distributed and least exclusive licensed product of any luxury brand) our shopper turns to Swords-Smith, a boutique ostensibly meant to be a response to the encroachment of upscale chain shopping in the neighborhood by focusing on truly independent and artisanal designers. "Swords-Smith is anti-fast fashion, a locus of the “slow clothes” movement that has for some reason not caught on like fair trade coffee beans. Its wares do not so much adorn as amuse and challenge," our shopper writes, though it sounds like something of a hollow response as its wares seem to be as expensive if not more so than the A.P.C.s and Steven Alans encroaching on Williamsburg's retailing integrity. And what does our shopper find? Leggings. Expensive ones. The lesson here? Things change, and, at least where New York is concerned, once the upscaling starts, there's no stopping it.

Critical Shopper: Hearing Its Own Drummer By Alexandra Jacobs (NYTimes)
Swords-Smith 98 South Fourth Street, Williamsburg


Franco-Williamsburg Edition

19zCRITICAL1-articleLargeIn today's Critical Shopper column, Jon Caramanica eschews the obvious Holiday shopping, and instead heads for the sales at Sandro, but not at one of its several Manhattan locations. Instead he checks out the French chain's new Willliamsburg outpost. He makes the odd observation that France has the least imaginative clothes of the "fashion-minded" countries (Jean-Paul Gaultier might beg to differ, just for starters, but whatever). He seems to be referring to more prosaic, day-to-day clothes which, as presented at Sandro, are black, black, skinny and skinnier —which actually makes them perfect for Williamsburg, but perhaps not so promising for our Shopper.

And so Sandro presents a challenge of rigor: limited color palette, limited silhouette palette, limited attitude palette. There’s a type of character who would look effortlessly phenomenal in these clothes: Pete Doherty, Jenny Shimizu in her prime, vintage Bryan Ferry, Wiz Khalifa. Call them dismissive ectomorphs. The clean lines serve only to spiff up a bad attitude.

Yet what seems like disenchantment turns to some kind of begrudging admiration, especially at 30% off, and he walks away with shoes and a sweater. Even so, he recognized that the arrival of tony stores like Sandro are further transforming Williamsburg into something apart from the edgy bohemian neighborhood that attracted attention in the first place.

Critical Shopper: The New Skinny on Brooklyn By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Sandro 65 North Sixth Street between Wythe & Kent Avenues, Brooklyn


Hipster Superstore Edition

07ZCRIT2-popupIn today's Thursday Styles Critical Shopper, Jon Caramanica has taken the odd position of appearing to care less about the store he is reviewing than what it is doing to the neighborhood that surrounds it. The neighborhood is Willamsburg, and the offending gentrifier is H.W. Carter & Sons, a shiny new store named for a recently revived heritage brand offering a new line of neo-vintage workwear (insert eye-roll here).

It’s huge. Bigger than huge. There may not be enough clothes designed for members of its target demographic produced in all the world to fill this space, in which you could host a decent indoor soccer match. The store belongs on a block in Montclair, N.J., or in the Woodbury Common complex. It could be an old-time small-town Piggly Wiggly.

Like any other big store, they use modern technology like inventory control tags and Of course, they carry more than their own label, and our shopper lists a roll-call of editor-approved labels beloved by the almighty Menswear Clique like Mark McNairy, Junya Watanabe, and Engineered Garments —although we must comment that that last label could only be described as being carried in a" few local stores" if you consider Saks, Barneys and Bloomingdale's local stores. Add Odin, Nepenthes NY and Steven Alan, and you have a pretty easy-to-find brand, which doesn't make it any less appealing. In fact the issue here is that H.W. Carter & Sons, sore thumb that it may be, seems to be filled with stuff our shopper loves. Sometimes we have give in a little. After all, the store is really just the inevitable result of years of gentrification, not the cause of it.

Critical Shopper: Last Stop Before the Outlet Center By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
H.W. Carter & Sons 127 North Sixth Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn