Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Downtown NY Shopping

This past weekend I did my usual Downtown New York loop of some of my favorite retailers. First I visited Laces, which is owned by Louis Colon III, who is also the publisher of Kicksclusive magazine. I recently interviewed Louis for Footwear News magazine, and once the story comes out, I'll add more on the store, but in the meantime, I love an independent retailer success story, and so I was pleased to hear that business was good when I dropped in the store to say hello.

Even though it's March, I got the sense that retailers, especially the independents, were dragging their feet on spring. At David Z in pariticular I was surprised by the dearth of new spring looks. Then again, I think last year's late spring hurt sandal sales badly so I wouldn't be suprised if everyone is choosing to play it safe.

I also popped into H&M and Urban Outfitters and both were too packed to the rafters for me to stay around and do much shopping. I didn't see a whole lot that impressed me in either store, which wasn't suprising. H&M has always been hit and miss and Urban just doesn't carry the same punch it didn't a couple years ago.

At some point I visited The Lounge (sorry no link that I can find) on Broadway and Houston, which, from a merchandising perspective, seems to be embracing the whole Southern Calif. starlette fashion aeshetic more than ever before. Not a move in the right direction if you ask me.

My final stop was at the Adidas store, which is also on Broadway and Houston. I hesitated to go in there because I find that while the Adidas brand has good cache, it often fails to live up to its potential. I don't know what it is, but more times than I can count, they've had good design and color concepts that still seem to somehow just miss the mark.

I was pleasantly surpised by Adidas's Stella McCartney line, which was up on the second floor. The performance sports industry tends to be ahead of the curve when it comes to fabric technology, but way behind it when it comes to embracing fashion trends. Stella's line is not only neat from a fabric perspective, the fashion is also fairly cutting edge.

Price-point-wise, it's fairly steep (I know "lux" is all the rage these days, but I resent paying over $100 for just about any item of clothing so keep that in mind), but I think you're getting a lot for your money, which is a name designer doing good work combined with new technology. In my book, that beats this year's repeat of last year's (and the year before that) tunic any day.

The top featured in the (crappy) image is from Stella's spring collection and it'll cost ya $120. I am happy to report that when I visited the store, her winter and first spring entire collection (which didn't include this top) was marked down 25 percent so I was able to snag a couple of tops for under $70 each. If it's not selling as well as Adidas would like, I blame them for not doing a better job of promoting the line.

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