Thursday, August 23, 2018

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

Fashion Week Store Tours: Retail Strikes Back

All photos Laurel Marcus
Click images for full-size views

Remember when NYFW's "Fashion's Night Out" was a thing? Yeah, me neither. For a melding of fashion week and retail try on a behind-the-scenes story-telling experience. Fashion Week Store Tour (FWST) which promises to be the newest adjunct event, is launching here from September 5-9. I was invited to attend a mini sample tour yesterday through SoHo -- tours will also be available at the Oculus, Madison Avenue, and Time Warner Center. "Retail is becoming an extension of Fashion Week," explained branding PR maven Amy Rosi who along with Dan Hodges, Founder, and CEO of Consumers in Motion, were our gracious hosts.

3x1 atelier

In a slightly abbreviated tour (ours was 90 minutes while most are two hours) we were introduced to fashion professionals at The Line, The Webster and denim brand 3x1 and got to hear a bit about the DNA of each brand or company, how they leverage their creativity and retail platforms and how they use the latest technologies to drive demand for their brands. Retailers such as Rebecca Minkoff (who is currently renovating her store to open in time for NYFW where she will host events), Eileen Fisher, YEOHLEE, Stella McCartney, Prada and Kate Spade as well as the stores that we visited will be part of the SoHo experience. Over 50 stores have been selected including each of the venues -- each locale focusing on design, merchandising, store experience, technology, customer service, and sustainability.

Coffee talk at Nespresso

After a quick meet and greet at Nespresso on Prince Street where we were plied with sufficient caffeine -- ready then to travel down Greene Street. In the elevator ride up to The Line (76 Greene Street). I had no idea what to expect from this "secret insider hideaway" and was pleasantly greeted by a furnished SoHo apartment. Like the rug? You can buy it! Ditto for the chairs, couch, items on the table, wall art, clothing, shoes, jewelry, bath products -- well, you get it.

Curated closet at The Line

"From home goods to clothing to beauty -- from a toothbrush to a large piece of furniture this is truly a lifestyle concept store. We also change the look of the apartments (there's another one in West Hollywood) from season to season," said store guide Allie.  If you want styling, consulting, wardrobe services, or interior design help The Line (which is online as well) will not only show you what's featured in the store but will expand to other items of brands that they carry. The Line has been open for five years but only open to the public for two, so this experience may not be on your radar. Prices range from about $7 (perhaps for that toothbrush above) to about $40,000 for a unique piece of art, so they trend towards the luxury end of the market.

The Webster storefront

Next stop: The Webster (29 Greene Street) which was familiar to me from their Miami South Beach flagship location which opened in 2009 bearing the name of the original building. Laure Heriard Dubreuil (LHD to those in the know as well as in her private label clothing) opened her six-floor store here last November. There are five shopping floors, one for men (one is to become a hair salon in time for NYFW) -- the top floor is for VIP events and appointments and includes awesome outdoor space.

Windowed 2nd floor at The Webster

We are told that Jimi Hendrix played here in this building so there's "really good energy." The floors are really just two smallish rooms with a long hallway connecting them -- the same marble flooring and wallpaper is used here as in Miami. The high-end luxury brand boutique features an extremely curated selection -- I usually think of these type of places as a "museum for clothes." During NYFW there will be several events including one with a famous Russian facialist. The store generally sponsors both "serious, classic events as well as more fun events featuring a DJ."

3x1's Patrick and Rebecca, Dan Hodges, CEO, Consumers in Motion

Our last stop for the day proved to be the most interesting. 3x1 (15 Mercer Street) is a denim startup created by Scott Morrison (it's his third after Paper Denim & Cloth and Earnest Sewn, hence the name) and was started rather inauspiciously a few weeks before 9/11. Morrison created the concept of a brand which is made in-store -- "the denim wall is not only a merchandising display but a living breathing unit," according to store guide Patrick. "Someone gets on a ladder to actually get a roll of denim.

The denim wall

We buy fabric (Japanese raw selvedge) at about 50 yards at a time due to our relationship with the mills. Most companies would have to buy more." It takes about three yards of selvedge per jean on average and there are three basic fits for men with varying rise and leg opening width.
"Women's ready-to-wear flips a lot more frequently -- there are different fits, washes. We also make bags with the extra fabric," as he indicated the case; or even do a run of shorts if enough fabric remains.

Customization table

The customization table is on view in the front of the store (here's where you can pick the thread stitching colors and other embellishments for an upcharge of $125-$225) on top of the basic ready-made prices --women's jeans are between $200-$350; men's jeans are $285-$500. The atelier where the cutting and sewing takes place is towards the back surrounded by window walls. If you really want denim to fit you like a glove, invest in a "Bespoke" pair -- a pattern is made from your measurements for a one-time charge of $1,500 and takes four weeks to make.

Table spread at 3x1

Patrick also gives us a tip -- did you know that lifting the pocket placement just a half an inch can mean the difference between a perky butt and a saggy looking one? There's news you can use as "everyone wants their butt to look fantastic." Men's jeans are only made in one extra long 36" length but can be hemmed in store with same day tailoring. Prototypes are also tested in store on a fit model. The only thing not done right here on location is fading and ripping -- the jeans are sent to LA to go through an extra process. "This store is part Disneyland/part serious business," adds Patrick. "It's on the list of 50 things to do in New York!"

For more information or to book an appointment for a tour go to fashionweekstoretours.com .




- Laurel Marcus

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