Barking Irons: Authentic Americana, New York

  While in New York this past week, I ended up in New York's Bowery District several times, completely unknowingly and without any forward planning. People just invited me there for dinner or lunch at the very cool restaurant called Freemans and the sweet brunch spot called the Five Points Restaurant. Once upon a time, The Bowery was home to high European culture and then was the centre of a grassroots movement of artists and musicians in America's new melting pot in the late 1800's. However, since the early 1900's the area has languished as a skid row zone of brothels, run-down buildings and grime. Today, the Bowery remains one of the few areas in Manhattan yet to be gentrified…

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Marc Jacobs: The Cult of Corporate Cool, New York

Who said that big brands can't retain the DNA of what made them interesting in the first place? This past week in New York, I visited the Marc by Marc Jacobs store on Bleecker Street, the little brother store to Marc Jacobs mainline collection. Both businesses are owned by LVMH, the world's largest luxury goods conglomerate. Marc Jacobs is also the Creative Director for Louis Vuitton, the company's largest fashion brand. So, you might expect that the company feels corporate and over marketed. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to walk into the Marc store and see a huge yellow chicken mascot sitting in the store window. A (suitably cool) photographer named Thom was taking photos of customers posing with…

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Pax Americana: Abercrombie & Fitch

This marks the week that one of America's most successful fashion brands hits the shores of Europe, with the opening of the first European Abercrombie and Fitch flagship in London's Savile Row. The hype has been nonstop, with the media going crazy,  London buses trumpeting the new store's appearance by draping themselves in images of perfectly proportioned models baring their torsos (and the preferred Abercrombie aesthetic) for all to see. According to reports, there will always be two models in swimwear in the store at all times. Shopping at an AF store is about the experience of Abercrombie and Fitch. It speaks volumes about the brand and what it stands for. The signature music. The achingly hip (an invariably attractive)…

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SoHo Shopping, New York

Many emerging designers get their initial support from the myriad small boutiques around the world that are trying to give their customers something a bit different; something they won't necessarily find in a department store. High-end boutiques also differ from their department store counterparts in that they really get involved in giving their customers advice and tips on the newest designers and styles. I took a walk through SoHo on Saturday with my friend Joan, a serious fashionista, who also spends a lot of her time scouring eBay for unique pieces that speak to her individuality. This is Joan camping out in front of some SoHo graffiti, wearing her first ever eBay fashion purchase, a shaggy shearling jacket that helps…

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Marc Newson at the Gagosian Gallery, New York

A work colleague invited me to an interesting art/design exhibition of the highly-regarded young industrial designer, Marc Newson in New York's west side. It was one of those moments when I thought, Doh!, I wish I had my camera/cameraphone with me so I could capture not only the artwork but also the truly fabulous crowd that had assembled to pay hommage to this young talent. I am still getting used to always being ready to capture the cool moments  that sometimes happen unexpectedly. In any case, I really like this cool shelf that kind of looks like a giant piece of industrial honey-comb. To be honest, I am not sure I understand exactly how the business of that whole exhibition…

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Pressler Pushed Out

The Gap announced today that Paul Pressler has been pushed out of the organisation as it struggles to find ways to turn the business around. Part of the problems the company is facing is addressed in my previous post: "Mind the Gap?" I am not surprised by this move as public companies often try to make high-profile leadership changes to signal to the market that they have recognised a problem and are trying to fix it. Whether they actually manage to turn things around, remains to be seen. You can read more about it in today's WWD - their prognosis for the company's future is not terribly optimistic.

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