Thursday, July 29, 2010

Craig Embraces His Preppy Roots on 34th Street

Intern Craig visits American Eagle Outfitters and WHO.A.U (left) on 34th Street and embraces his inner prep.

In high school, your popularity didn't depend on the number of Facebook friends (or real life friends for that matter), but instead was measured by the number of Abercrombie polos you owned. As a boy built with child-bearing hips, Abercrombie's sizing system never quite agreed with my voluptuous figure. I had to resort to more inclusive brands like American Eagle Outfitters. However, the joke is on Abercrombie because I never grew out of American Eagle and I don't know anyone that shopped at Abercrombie after 12th grade.

I could write volumes on the reasons I love American Eagle. Some highlights include:

  • Fantastic sizing options
  • Nice mix of clothes with heavy branding or no branding at all
  • Durability (I still have an AE cardigan from 2007 that I will never part with)
  • Amazing price points
I stopped by the 34th Street location last week and found a nice button-down/cargo short combo that immediately caught my eye. I loved the shirt because it fit great and wasn't branded with the eagle. I don't have anything against American Eagle but I don't feel the urge to act as a walking billboard for my clothing stores. The shirt is great by itself or to layer in the fall. This is a great transition piece for any guy's wardrobe.

My thoughts on cargo shorts differ from day to day. On some people, they look great. On other people, they can look sloppy. Try to pair your cargos with a nice button-down or polo and a sleek plimsoll sneaker or driving loafer. The whole t-shirt/cargo/flip-flops combo doesn't quite work off campus, bro.

I also used this opportunity to investigate Who.A.U, one of our newest tenants on 34th Street. I like to describe the store as the Korean version of Hollister, which is certainly interesting. More important, Who.A.U's aesthetic definitely allows the brand to be more susceptible to trendier items like military style jackets, leggings, etc. From what I remember, Hollister's product doesn't change much.

I had to enlist the help of a much thinner friend because Who.A.U's sizing gives me a complex. We picked this interesting gradient polo and jeans. My friend usually wears a small/extra-small in other stores but had to switch to a medium here and it was still somewhat uncomfortable. The jeans were also uncomfortably snug on him. If you remember my tweets from the opening, my female friend tried on a pair of jeans and said they were the closest things to jeggings she tried.

So who's your favorite, go-to preppy store? Abercrombie, AEO, or newly converted to WHO.A.U?

More WHO.A.U pictures from the 34th Street store:

American Eagle Outfitters, 40 W. 34th between 5th & 6th Avenues
WHO.A.U, 22 W. 34th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

JCPenney Holiday Preview 2010

Some weeks end up being all about one store on Fashion Herald, and this week it's JCPenney Manhattan Mall. Between Nastia Liukin, Aldo shoe collaborations, and a holiday preview, I've been all JCPenney immersed...

Trenches, plaid, layers, tall boots, short boots, god I love the cold weather.

Last week, in sweltering heat, Craig and I dropped by the JCPenney holiday preview. I'm one of those people who is happy to see a table of little Christmas trees covered in gift cards standing next to an espresso bar in the middle of July. Then I know that no matter how disgusting and humid it is outside, the retail professionals will be there to remind us that winter will one day come again.

The home holiday preview did not disappoint, but I'll leave that for Intern Craig to cover next week. Here's a teaser: cupcake maker, OMG, yes.

Check out the holiday evening looks around the fireplace: I adore the glittery whites and the silvers. I want the entire look just to the left of the stockings with the beige top, white skirt, and black booties. That one-shouldered black top is pretty fabulous also.

Back to clothes: I was impressed with the styled holiday looks, above, particularly the evening wear. JCPenney continues improve on their fashion selections each season. There are also quite a few coats I have my eye on, including an aviator (everyone is demanding you get your flygirl on for the fall, ladies) and a faux furry thing. It's practically blue and looks like a cushy throw and I want to roll around in front of little Christmas trees in it.

Happy upcoming holidays! In four to five months.

JCPenney Manhattan Mall, lower levels 1 & 2, 33rd & 6th Avenue

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Call It Shoes: JCPenney + Aldo Call It Spring

I call it brilliant. New fabulous shoes are coming to Manhattan Mall this fall as another shop-within-a-shop opens for JCPenney (see Sephora and MNG by Mango, also this fall). However, the above looks more like a shop-just-outside-the-shop, because this is the first floor Manhattan Mall location formerly known as Toys"R"Us (toy shoppers can now find Toys"R"Us on the second floor). JCPenney occupies the two lower levels of the mall.

Call It Spring will be a permanent addition, and thus a pretty smart way for JCPenney to further expand their lower level mall presence onto the first floor. And it's a greatly needed shoe store addition to Manhattan Mall, as Call It Spring is an Aldo/JCP collaboration and will feature Aldo-like trends at Penny's prices.

The Manhattan Mall JCPenney will have Call It Spring first. Look for others in JCPenneys across the country in 2011.

Updated to add: Just heard from JCPenney PR, and they are pretty sure those signs on the first floor of Manhattan Mall, on the old Toys"R"Us space, are just advertisements, and are not indicative of the shop-within-a-shop-itself. Because it really is an exciting new shop-within-a-shop concept, and not some blogger fantasty shoe-shop-just-outside-the-shop concept. Now I shall furiously email Manhattan Mall and ask if they have any plans for this empty space...

Call It Spring, coming to JCPenney in New York City this September
Manhattan Mall, 33rd & 6th Avenue

Monday, July 26, 2010

Craig Channels His Inner Olympic Gymnast

Last Saturday in Greeley Square Park, Intern Craig visited Nastia Liukin during the launch of her new JCPenney collection Supergirl by Nastia.

I'm leaving my fashion journalist aspirations behind to join the U.S. Gymnastics Team. I don't think it'll matter that I haven't been able to touch my toes since I was born. My charm should win the judges over.

These Olympic aspirations stem from seeing Gold Medalist Nastia Liukin at Greeley Square on Saturday. Nastia was in town to launch her new clothing line for JCPenney, Supergirl by Nastia. The line, which is a joint venture through Warner Brothers and JCPenney, consists of active-wear for young dancers and gymnasts, and everyday outfits for all kinds of young girls. Most of the pieces are branded with the S-shield to give Nastia's fans a little Supergirl power boost.

In the morning, Nastia presented the collection using girls from the audience as models. I thought the black dress with the gold accents on the left was so cute. It's also Nastia's favorite piece from the line.

Then, Nastia led a gymnastics class in Greeley Square. Unfortunately, I was too old to participate but it looked like great fun. Later, though, I was able to sit down with her inside the store to ask a couple of questions about the line.

Craig: So, about the line: Who came to you first? Warner Brothers or JCPenney?

Nastia: Warner Brothers because it is called Supergirl. They've done so much with Superman and it's such an empowering message and I think little boys have always had their superheroes like Superman. Supergirl hasn't really evolved so when they came to me after the Olympics, I was just like "wow, me? There's millions of extremely talented girls out there in the world" and for me to be able to do this is just really incredible. And JCPenney is based in Plano, Texas which is where I live. It's so funny because I just hop in my car, go to the meeting, and I can drive right home. I feel like it was just destined to be.

Craig: So tell me a little bit about the design process.

Nastia: Well, I got to work really closely with the design team. They're out in L.A. so I traveled back and forth a lot this year and last year. I got to bring some of my personal wardrobe so they could see what my style was. So, we definitely incorporated a lot of the fleece sweatsuits because I'm in sweats all the time. I train 7 hours a day so it's sweats and leotards. So, we wanted to incorporate that into the line because that's something that's close to me. Growing up, I was very into fashion. I was always the one with the new leotards and matching sweats. Everything had to match: my clips, my socks, my cute sweatsuits. We wanted for that to be included. The colors of this collection are pinks and purples and then blacks, golds and silvers. The gold is obviously to represent my accomplishments at the Olympic games and pink is my signature color. We're definitely changing up the color palate for the next collection during holiday.

Craig: Oh, so there is going to be another collection?

Nastia: Yeah, we're done with holiday and we're almost done with the spring collection.

Craig: So, what are some of your favorite pieces from the line?

Nastia: This (pictured right) is one of my favorites. It's kinda casual but you can dress it up. I think a lot of younger girls are looking up to a lot of celebrities, musicians, pop-stars, and actresses so you see a lot of accessories. They aren't quite into wearing an extra necklace so this is actually attached to the dress. I thought it was such a cool touch especially with the S-shield. We didn't want everything to have the S-shield on it. Obviously, you're going to have some iconic shirts but with this it just adds a little bling. Comfort was another important component. Comfort and affordability.

Craig: I think it's so refreshing to actually have a celebrity designing their own line.

Nastia: That's the way I was. I didn't really want to do a line with just my name on it. I wanted it to come from my heart and I wanted it to be me. It's not just fashion, it has great meaning behind it to empower little kids to wear an S-shield on their necklace or on their shirts. I was one of them at some point. I had these dreams and I went after these dreams and I was able to achieve them. I'm hoping that I'll be able to spread that a little bit and to dream big.

While I was interviewing Nastia in the Supergirl section of JCPenney Manhattan Mall, the clothes were flying off the shelves. She'll also be visiting JCPenney stores in Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Orlando to promote the launch of the line. And, when the Supergirl tour is over, she'll be doing a joint gymnastics/figure skating show with fellow gold-medalist Evan Lysacek in her hometown. Then, as soon as that is over, she begins training to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. I am exhausted from just typing her schedule, I can only imagine how she feels. Perhaps I'll stick to fashion journalism after all and leave the Olympic toe-touching to Nastia?

Nastia Liukin's Supergirl
Now available at JCPenney Manhattan Mall, 33rd & 6th Avenue

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Supergirl Launching!

Back in March, Intern Craig and I visited the JCPenney Back-to-School preview, and showed a few teasers of Nastia Liukin's new Supergirl collection.

Is it wrong I want the "tank biketard" pictured below and here? Am I too old for biketards?
Now you can meet Nastia herself and get a few pointers on how to tumble, stretch, and roll from an Olympic gymnast. But only if you're 4-12 years old. Which really is OK by me because my public tumbling days ended back in my 20's (and were in no way gymnastics related). Theses days the closest I come to tumbling is those annoying, random street stumbles in very high heels.

But this is going to be a very fun, event-filled kick-off, so be sure to drop by Greeley Square this Saturday (schedule below). You'll see gymnastic exhibitions from local gyms, and might even get an autographed picture from Nastia during a little meet-and-greet. JCPenney is even including a fantastic charity tie-in by inviting kids from local Boys and Girls Club afterschool programs, and giving them a back-to-school shopping spree after the event. Bravo, Nastia and JCPenney! Supergirl, indeed.

Nastia Liukin Supergirl event
Greeley Square Park in front of JCPenney Manhattan Mall, 33rd & 6th Avenue
10-10:15am - Fashion presentation
10:15-11:15am - Stretching and tumbling class
11:15-12:45pm - Nastia meet and greet and gymnastics exhibitions

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

LOFT Leaving 34th Street

Saturday is the last day for LOFT on 34th Street and all the merchandise is on sale, but there's not much left:

Back of store, front of store

There is a decent selection of LOFT's cute hair accessories, however. Not many shoes are left (prices are between $34.99 and $59.99-ish). Dresses are on sale for $34.99 and up. There's also a table of soft basic T's in white and black for $9.99 next to a bowl full of Havaianas.

Hairbands, necklaces, T's, flip-flops

What's next for the LOFT space at 35 W. 34th Street? According to The Real Deal back in June, LOFT wanted to sublease to Guess but ran into a dispute with the landlord. So will Guess be coming to 34th Street? Stay tuned, because we have no idea. We'll find out when Women's Wear Daily does. In the meantime, bon voyage, LOFT!

35 W. 34th Street closing at the end of Saturday, July 24th

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trompe l'oeil Diapers on 34th Street

Diapers have gone viral, so I enlisted the help of Baby Herald to try out the new Huggies limited-edition denim diapers. Are they ugly? Would I wear faded denim underpinnings? Or am I again dressing my daughter in things I wouldn't wear (see pink, ruffles, and pink ruffles)?

We're trying to show the faux pockets on the back of the Huggies jeans diapers here, but with little success. It just looks like Baby Herald is doing yoga.
(Click here to see the infamous Huggies commercial if you haven't already. Who designed those sunglasses on the brunette in the opening scene? Love them.)

But first, I have to disagree with today's New York Magazine Huggies jean diaper story: I like clothes and I have no problem figuring out how to dress Baby Herald. She's got drawers overflowing with hand-me-downs. Anyone who isn't dressing their baby in hand-me-downs is insane because A: They grow out of onesies in a month; and B: This is one time in her life she doesn't care about what she's wearing. Sometimes I play on that and come up with really ugly combinations. And still, Baby Herald smiles and kicks her legs like "Mom has the best taste in the world, I look FABULOUS." I'm saving money for that day she comes home from school and is like "Iris has cute leggings. I need those leggings."

Back to the Huggies. I was expecting to hate these but I fell for them the minute I fastened those tabs. I love these freaking diapers. Why limited edition? Because it's summer and when it's really hot babies can get away with just a diaper (you won't see that look on a fashionable NYC playground but that's not the real world). For Baby Herald, these jean diapers will come in handy when she wears a hand-me-down dress that doesn't have a matching diaper cover, like the one in the photo above where she looks like Farm Baby. And the trompe l'oeil pockets are ridiculous in a good way. Ok, now someone can please warn Baby Herald that Mom's gone so wack-a-doodle she's actually using "trompe l'oeil" when speaking about diapers.

Huggies Limited Edition Jean Diapers available at Kmart, 34th Street & 7th Avenue

Monday, July 19, 2010

Daffy's Herald Square: Clearance + Much More

Many of the clearance racks in Daffy's Herald Square are prettily color coordinated, which makes for the most irresistible racks of spring yellows and oranges I've ever seen. And I look awful in yellow and orange.

I also look awful in lime green, so this Yigal Azrouƫl (under $25) is still hanging on the sixth floor by the dressing rooms. The print skirt is by Basler ($29.99).

Although there is plenty of Ben Sherman on clearance (see plaid shorts, left), I found it difficult to not try on all the newly-arrived and regularly Daffy's-discounted Ben Sherman displayed on the sixth floor, register-side.

Welcome, fall: beautiful capelet, $69.99, and argyle Ben Sherman dress.

I posted this maroon dress on on Twitter Friday, but I'll put it here again because it's $29.99 and adorable. And has pockets. The cut wasn't quite right for me (I was between sizes) so the neckline hit me weird, but it might work for you. And it does great things to your back.

I got this cotton striped dress for $19.99. I rarely do this very short length, but it's too 60's mod for me to pass up. Now I've just got to get a pixie cut.

Daffy's Herald Square, Herald Center, 34th & Broadway

Friday, July 16, 2010

Banana Republic Splits It Up on 34th Street

There's a new retail space opening on 34th Street, and I'm not talking about a vacant building.

Outside the store. That's some new store's window space on the left, Banana will keep the right.
Inside the store, please forgive their construction.

The property owner is taking a slice out of Banana Republic's mens department on the first floor and is turning it into a separate, ground-level space for a new store.

In this reconfigured space there will be about 2,000 sf on the first floor and 11,500 in the lower lever (the link above says "second floor" but from my understanding, it's the basement. I could be wrong).

I think the Banana is going to look better after this and I'm not just blowing smoke. This store was so big, I rarely ventured to the back of the selling floor. Sometimes less is more. And now the new store speculating/rumors can begin and liven up these dog days of summer before back-to-school excitement tries to grab us all by the wallet. And yes, I did have to restrain myself from naming this post "A Banana Splits on 34th Street."

Banana Republic & New Mystery Space

17-19 W. 34th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Get Your Mid-Summer Swimsuit at Daffy's Herald Square

It's the middle of July and you suddenly realize you've got to have a new swimsuit. Perhaps you wake up one day and can't bear one more weekend in your current suit. Or you signed your kid up for swim lessons at your local YMCA and can't bear wearing a bikini in an up-close and personal setting (tiny pool). And you're not allowed to wear your maternity one-piece anymore.

An example of the bikinis at Daffy's Herald Square, 5th floor. There's an endless selection of cute cover-ups, too.
I'll be honest, I went to Daffy's Herald Square as a lark, thinking I'd never find a suit there. I planned on ending up at Macy's and the enormous swimsuit department. But I never made it there. I actually found two one-pieces at Daffy's, and both were on clearance for $13.49.

The suit I took home:
Panache black one-piece with light green piping and keyhole back.

Daffy's has many more bikinis on clearance than one-pieces. And this is funny: Panache swimwear is made especially for girls with a larger cup size, which I most definitely do not have. But this suit fits me perfectly, and has a cute, retro-like bottom fit (square, not cut high on the legs). I've always had a problem finding a well-fitting suit, so if you are built like me - tall, long torso, broad back, small-chest, with an ass (I just can't say it any other way) - and you can never get the top to match the bottom, try these Panache suits.

Daffy's Herald Square, Herald Center at 34th & Broadway

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Long Live Art at Fossil 34th Street

Long live art, indeed. I love it that Fossil has, in this day of computers, the Internets, and everything digital, teamed up with a group of artists to celebrate vintage art forms and handicraft techniques of the pre-iObsessed world. Don't get me wrong, I love my iPhone. But hearing that "ding" that tells me I've got an email often induces anxiety, whereas this just makes me want to chill:

This porcelain planter is by ceramicist Paige Russell ($50). Lucky me, I share an office with our Bryant Park/34th Street horticulturist, Maureen Hackett, and when I showed her this she said "It'd be great for little succulents." The planter is 5.5 by 6 inches, and, because of the shape, Maureen recommends planting it with anything linear, including pencils till you buy yourself some grasses or cacti. I'm now trying to get Maureen to do a horticulture/home blog. But back to Fossil and some of its other artists...

Dolan Geiman T-shirt, $28. Geiman is a vintage-inspired artist who often works with found mediums.The limited-edition tote, $78, is by Hatch Show Print, one of the oldest working letterpress operations in America.

You can learn more about the artists here. Visit the store on 34th Street where these and more should be available soon.

Updated to add: The Paige Russell porcelain planter & Yellow Owl Workshop stamp kit and tote should be in the 34th Street store by 9/3. The Hatch Show Print & Dolan Geiman items will be in 34th Street on 7/25.

Fossil, 38 W. 34th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Esprit Still Talks to Me

I think this really says Esprit:

This, too, really says Esprit to me:

And I'm not joking. Back in my elementary school days, the Esprit logo sweatshirt was the coolest thing ever and every girl wanted it. That was before logos were pasted all over everything. I'm not counting Steve Fletcher and his obsession with wearing Oakland Raider stuff every day in the fifth grade. It was a little scary. No, really, the Raiders were a very scary team back then.

More classic Esprit (shirt $49.50, jeans $45.50), & great summer Esprit dress ($69.50)
that will really look cute on someone who's been to the gym in the past year.

I had problems with this romper. Adorable but do I bunch it up and look pregnant or pull it down and look like I have funhouse mirror torso? Rompers need a different body type than mine.

This is a perfect vest, go buy it (I think it's $59.50, T-shirt is $29.50).

I admit that I still want that logo sweatshirt. It evokes some of my earliest label lust, even before Gloria Vanderbilt and Calvin Klein jeans. But logo jeans and How Brooke Shields Ruined Levi's For Me is a story for another day.

Esprit Flagship on 34th Street
21 W. 34th between 5th & 6th

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tales from Kenneth Cole at Macy's Herald Square

FH note: I sent Intern Craig to Macy's Herald Square last week to check out some menswear. Summer sales are a perfect time to help a loved one of the male persuasion update his wardrobe.

As a New Yorker, I don't give enough credit to Macy's Herald Square. Sure, it's usually pretty tightly packed with tourists, but once you navigate away from the first floor the crowds definitely thin out and the departments are easy to shop.

The other day, I headed up to Men's Sportswear on the 2nd Floor of the Seventh Ave Building and limited myself to the Kenneth Cole. If I've got just an hour to shop Macy's I'll focus on one designer. Luckily, in the Kenneth Cole department there was fantastic selection on the sale racks so I channeled my inner recessionista and found some nice pieces.

First, I tried this light blue polo, perfect for summer because of its light cotton material. I liked the double-breasted pocket but the shoulders were cut a little odd. Their peaked shape felt a little too Joan Collins circa-Dynasty.

Next, I spotted this interesting striped polo that I normally would not wear due to the gradient. I didn't see the gradient until I tried it on but surprisingly, I didn't hate it. Again, it was made from a light cotton so it's perfect for summer.

Our last stop on this journey was this black dress shirt with a twist. I can appreciate Kenneth Cole trying to alter the classic dress shirt but the zipper detail was a bit much for me. It seemed contrived and sat oddly high on the chest. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed.

Don't let the small selection of shirts I posted about fool you, though! There are plenty of styles and sizes to choose from once you actually get to the sales section so please check it out for yourself.

Macy's Herald Square, 151 W. 34th btwn Broadway & 7th Avenue