THE DECEMBER RETAIL SALES REPORT

Yesterday was a key date in retail as the sales report for December was released, and it was a bit of a let down. After November’s .3% increase, expectations were high for December but it turns out all those giant “Sale” signs and massive discounts caught up with retailers. The .1% gain from the year earlier was less than the .3% expected by economists. As reported by Bloomberg: “The holiday shopping season wasn’t overwhelming in strength,” Michael Moran, chief economist at Daiwa Capital Markets America Inc. in New York, said before the report. “It was respectable but not robust. The consumer will take a breather in the first quarter.” For the full article, click here.

A FACTORY IN BROOKLYN

This is the second short film in our series that focuses on American made goods and the manufacturing industry in America. We visited the Martin Greenfield factory in Brooklyn, one of the last remaining producers of handmade, beautifully tailored clothing. The final thought by Mr. Greenfield sums up his simple and honest approach to business – that after putting on one of his garments, the first thing that your friend will ask is: “where’d you get the stupid suit?” – perhaps my favorite quote in the piece and why we ended with it. Shot and edited by director Matthew Edginton.

THE REPUBLIC

As the new year begins in earnest today you will notice that some of your favorite retail websites have undergone a face lift. Take Banana Republic for example, their new home page now features a “What’s New” column with today’s date – “Modern stripes, dots, colors and more” is the main story for men. Trying to infuse a newsworthy element into a retail website is an interesting and challenging concept as it sets the company up for having to be ever-vigilant when it comes to content. And at the end of the day, (more…)

8 HOLIDAY WINDOWS

The meatpacking district has quickly become one of the chicest and most expensive retail destinations in New York City. Here are a few pictures from a quick walk along 14th street. Some of the window displays were seriously lacking while others, like Hugo Boss, went all out. Their winter explorer theme was innovative and successfully brought the clothing to life: (more…)

CLUB MONACO: MADE IN THE U.S.A.

Great short film on the collaboration between Michael Williams, founder of A Continuous Lean, and Club Monaco.

URBAN OUTFITTERS NEW LOOK

We wrote about the desperate need of a new logo for Urban Outfitters in a previous post, maybe someone was listening?  It’s an interesting, completely unique choice and a big improvement, although certain letters stand out in a negative way over others, the “U” in particular. The store has a loyal following amongst a younger demographic and smartly there is nothing serious (more…)

WINTER WINDOWS: MONCLER & PRADA

Here are a few pictures snapped last night in Soho. It’s good to see the great FW11 Moncler collection that debuted during their flashmob ‘presentation’ at Grand Central Station finally arrive in store. Moncler always seems to get it right with their windows, with large beautiful photography used as a backdrop and in this case, very real looking mannequins on toboggans updated with color block paint and lights on the side. It’s a fairly simple formula, and it works. More pictures including Prada: (more…)

PRADA DOES PLAID

Prada has always been a leader in window displays and store design – just visit the impressive Rem Koolhaas designed epicenter store in Soho to experience it firsthand. For fall/winter 2011 designer Miuccia Prada has embraced plaid for her men’s collection and added collegiate lettering on the side of a classic airplane as a backdrop in their 5th Avenue store windows. University crests and plaid aren’t normally what you’d expect from the iconic designer, but she has always excelled at doing the unexpected, zigging when others zag. For additional photos: (more…)

OPENING: L.L. BEAN WESTCHESTER

Tomorrow, leading outdoor retailer L.L. Bean opens it’s 16th store, in Westchester’s Ridge Hill, Yonkers. If you have a chance to visit during the four day grand opening, you can take part in a variety of cool activities, including basic map and compass navigation, fly-casting techniques and essential knots for the outdoors. In other words, all the stuff a modern man should know. For a full list of programs, click here. (more…)

SAN FRANCISCO RETAIL INTEL

Editors Note: Grant Taylor is a man-about-town in San Francisco who will be reporting in from time to time on all things west coast style. Here is his first post:

SAN FRANCISCO: A city with style, but not too concerned with fashion. The Northern California ideal of achieving cool without really trying defines the sartorial spirit of the city by the bay. While in many ways SF is the antithesis of LA, this is still California, and the blight of the hoodie lives on. Casual comfort is the theme, but SF does have an edge up: generic hipster has given way to a more thoughtful, vintage-loving and well-proportioned wardrobe (as evidenced by the only Freeman’s Sporting Club outside NYC, in the Mission District).  It’s easy to dress in lace-up leather boots, hometown Levi’s, and a Pendleton jacket year round in fog city.  (more…)

TOP SITES: COLETTE.FR

If today is your unfortunate turn to sit in the office and wave goodbye to the summer half-day Friday crew, this is a good site to know. Colette is one of the best stores in the world, probably in the top 5, and their website is incredible. The amount (more…)

STORE REBOUND: URBAN OUTFITTERS

Urban Outfitters has always been one step up from a Goodwill store when it came to men’s clothing, a good place for tee shirts, Converse All Stars and maybe a shot glass or cheap lamp shade.  Men’s has been an after thought, with corduroys, their in-house brand “BDG” and mismatched Nike’s stashed in a basement complete with bad-lighting, cinder blocks and classic Donkey Kong video games.

A quick look at their latest catalog, shot at Glynwood Farms in Garrison, New York, and you can see that someone new has taken over, or is finally being heard.  The Wayne’s World thing was cool for 1-2 years, not 10. The catalog and stores are packed with fun, inexpensive clothes, from a new collaboration with J. Press, the poor man’s J. Crew, to must haves, like wool camp socks from O’Hanlon Mills (2 for $20), sports jackets and scarfs and gloves.   They now feature better brands, from Gant Rugger and Filson to J.Press and Lark & Wolff by Steven Alan. Just reading the copy under the J.Press items points to a new focus for Urban: “Founded in 1902 in New Haven, Connecticut by Jacobi Press, menswear label J.Press is iconic for its belief in quality above all else.” One wonders why they are partnering with Urban Outfitters?

Two thing to fix immediately: Their logo and the menu options on their website, I can’t remember the last time “Tops” was an option in menswear.

They finally took pictures of a camping trip that you’d actually like to go on.

STORE REPORT: BARNEY’S BROOKLYN

The new Barney’s CO-OP outpost in Brooklyn feels like a men’s-only shop at first glance.  All three of it’s massive windows feature racks of well edited, hip brands from Shipley & Halmos to Rag & Bone & Alexander Wang.  Placing menswear front and center is now an expected strategy for building a smart retail environment.  It’s the opposite of nature; women will hunt for clothes, while men casually forage.

The design of the store is clean & minimal, allowing the clothing to shine.  “Back to the Start” by Lily Allen played from speakers on the ceiling, exposed lighting reflected off the floor painted a high gloss gray acrylic. There is no stroller friendly ramp, underestimating Brooklyn’s well deserved label as “The Baby Borough.”

The big question will be how men react to the higher prices and thinner silhouettes.  Will they pay $160 for an Alexander Wang hooded sweatshirt when a similar looking one sells for $46 at American Apparel around the corner?  A Shipley & Halmos gray suit jacket ($550) & matching trouser ($325) & beautiful charcoal gray top coat ($795) were all well priced.  While a Thom Browne rugby shirt for $325 may be a bit too high for the neighborhood. The downstairs features an impressive denim shop with top brand Raleigh ($295), and an imposing winter parka from Spiewak Golden Fleece ($495).

Rounding out the mix is a rather small collection of accessories – there are only two watch brands sold, the gigantic Nixon and slightly smaller Eleven Eleven.  A pair of Nixon leather headphones look good from afar but when tested they sit uncomfortably high and aren’t as snug as high-end expensive DJ headphones should be.

The final verdict: great clothes and lots of buzz; a few blocks down, a woman in her 80’s in a wheel chair asked “Do you know where Barney’s is?”

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