Category Archives: Retail

Not-so-average Joes: NBA Players and Fashionistas Take over the West 4th Basketball Courts for JOE Joseph Abboud & JCPenney

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There were still basketball players at the famous West 4th Street courts on Monday, May 18 – except this time, they were wearing suits and in the NBA.

To celebrate the launch of their Fall 2009 collaboration, JCPenney (who plans to open at the Manhattan Mall this year) and suitmaker JOE Joseph Abboud obtained permission to close the courts to the public – a decidedly controversial move – to hold a cocktail party.  Attendees included a rather unusual mix of athletes and fashionistas: basketball legends Allan Houston and Cal Ramsey, rising star NBA draft pick Blake Griffin, Bobby Simmons of the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks head coach Herb Williams and several team members, stylist Michael Angelo, and Jones Apparel retail executives.

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And you couldn’t miss the collection of male models donning various JOE Joseph Abboud ensembles, stationed around the court literally to stand there and look pretty.

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Though interesting sheets of aluminum were placed around the fence to create a sense of “privacy,” a few sections were left uncovered, drawing a crowd of curious pedestrians.  Many had stopped when they realized they weren’t hearing the usual shouts of excitement that accompany the lively games at the court.  Several of the onlookers had probably planned to play in or watch one of those games that night; something tells me that if it were not for the presence of professional basketball stars at the event, they would have been quite disappointed.  Once the not-so-average-JOEs cleared out, though, it was back to normal – and I doubt you’ll be seeing suits at that court anytime soon.

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Vitamin Water 10 Pops Up in Soho

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carmenelectravitaminwater Photo courtesy of Getty Images

To celebrate the debut of its new 10 calorie version, Vitamin Water opened a pop-up shop in the former Helio space, next to Urban Outfitters, at 628 Broadway in Soho (technically Noho, but we’ll give it to them).

On the night of Thursday, April 2 (the same day as the opening of Topshop down the street), the store held an opening party, setting up a red carpet and bleachers for invited guests right on the sidewalk.  And it was not without star power – actress Carmen Electra hosted the event.

The store itself offers complimentary bottles of Vitamin Water 10 (in four flavors, including Vitamin C-abundant lemonade and antioxidant berry), which guests can enjoy in a minimalist setting featuring seating areas, videogames on a Wii, and a photobooth in the front window (that’s visible to passing traffic on Broadway).  Another window facing the street features a live model, decked out in the colorful tee shirts, white short-shorts, and knee-high socks all the employees were wearing (since of course 2009 is actually just The ’80s, Part Two).

Unfortunately, the store is only temporary, meaning weary Soho shoppers can’t count on that refreshing free Vitamin Water for long.

The British Invasion: New Yorkers Swarm Opening Day Extravaganza in the Race to the Topshop

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“The British are coming!” fashionistas chanted for months after London-based fast fashion retailer Topshop announced its first US store would open in New York.

Well, they’ve arrived.

Granted, it took them a while to get here: Topshop initially entered the American market by introducing only select pieces from its line at Barneys New York, and then delayed the opening of its first full-scale stateside flagship from Fall 2008 to April 2, 2009.  But judging from the lines that wrapped around the block at Broadway and Broome St. in Soho today (Recession?  What recession?), demand and expectations ran high – and many shoppers would probably agree that it was well worth the wait.

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Celebrities like Kate Moss, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Trachtenberg, and DJ Mark Ronson (yes, that’s the brother of Lindsay Lohan’s companion/girlfriend/pubilicity stunt/whatever, Samanatha Ronson) were on hand to celebrate the opening of the 40,000 square foot flagship, which stands at more than four stories and includes both the Topshop (women’s apparel and accessories) and Topman lines.

For those unfamiliar with Topshop, the brand falls somewhere between H&M and Banana Republic in style and price: some pieces are  irresistibly cute and inexpensive (like colorful men’s V-neck tees and short-sleeve shirts, two for $20), while others appeal to a more “aspirational” customer (take a $140 seersucker blazer).  The women’s pieces were particularly fashion-forward, adventurous, and stunning (the Kate Moss collection’s sparkly sequined dresses and dangerously spiked heels could only be described accurately as “fierce”).  But many of the men’s urban hipster pieces seemed lackluster, busy (gingham flannel shirt with striped tie?), and we’ve-seen-this-before (high-top shoes).  Overall though, most of the store made a strong showing at a reasonable price.

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Many of the day’s customers were enticed by gift cards (ranging from $5 to $500 and redeemable only on April 2) that had been handed out from Topshop vans throughout the city earlier this week.  Additional giftcards (and waterbottles – how thoughtful!) were handed out to shoppers waiting in line.

Topshop’s Soho neighbor, Madewell (the two stores are separated only by the upcoming J. Crew men’s store) also benefited from today’s crowds.  In addition to offering free doughnuts, Madewell created a window display in honor (or should we say, honour?) of the occasion: “A Royal Welcome to Our New Neighbour” and “All Hail the Jean.”  It’s nice to see some friendly retail/international relations instead of the usual cutthroat competition.

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Though New York remains the only Topshop outpost in the States for now, the success of today’s opening despite the suffering economy may be an indicator of the potential for nationwide expansion.  A British takeover of America has never sounded so lovely.

Ben Folds, Estelle, Mayor Bloomberg, and the Rockettes Rock Terminal 5…But Not the Same Terminal 5

  

Somewhat confusingly, New York is now home to not one, but two very large buildings called Terminal 5 – both of which hosted major events in the same week.  One is a music venue that opened last year on West 56th Street in Manhattan.  The other is a JetBlue terminal at JFK Airport that launched September 23, 2008, with an official opening scheduled for later this month.  Of course, Mazza First Hand Source was on both scenes to keep you covered.

Grammy-nominated UK perfomer Estelle was the surprise featured entertainer at the Opening Party for JetBlue’s Terminal 5, singing about flying to exotic locales with her American Boy, Kanye West.  (Hey, Estelle, you might want to rethink traveling with Kanye in airports).  The party featured a bizarre an eclectic collection of attendants (and we don’t mean the retired flight attendants, who were there modeling their original vintage uniforms – classy!).  We’re talking about the fact that the Rockettes were already decked out – or should we say, decked-the-halls out, in Christmas gear.  (Is it that time already?  It seems to get earlier every year.  It’s not even Halloween yet, folks!)  Oh, and Mayor Bloomberg was there, too.  Aside from the celebrities, JetBlue also invited its own employees and former employees of the now-defunct TWA, which once called the iconic JFK terminal home.

 Despite the party and ribbon-cutting ceremony, the terminal will not be open to the public until October 22.  In the mean time, construction crews are at work on a collection of restaurants and stores – including Muji and Lacoste.

 Meanwhile, Ben Folds was rockin’ the urbs in Manhattan at the other Terminal 5, jamming out to a packed house.  The September 30 concert coincided with the release of his latest album, “Way to Normal,” and Folds played many songs from the new album in the evening’s set.  The majority of the crowd was hearing these songs for the first time, but remained receptive to Folds and to his opener, Australian songstress Missy Higgins.