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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, television, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls, and getting blasted for Racked for years now. Today, we're borrowing his regular column from Racked National for a very special New York City edition of Love, Frank.
Dear Comme des Garçons,
You have your work cut out for you.
Late last week, you revealed the location of New York's forthcoming Dover Street Market. It's a beautiful landmark building—great bones! But, um, it's a landmark building on Lexington Avenue. In the 30s.
We get that this is sort of what you do. You're the trailblazers. You open exclusive, edgy shops in places where there are no exclusive, edgy shops. Then you wait for the rest of the neighborhood to catch up; you wait for the scene to build. And it's a great strategy—it certainly sets you, as a brand, apart from the followers. That spirit mirrors the Comme des Garçons aesthetic and customer; likewise, it reflects the other brands Dover Street Market carries: directional, trailblazing designer labels for fashion people by fashion people. Real deal stuff.
But ? Lexington Avenue in the 30s?
When you opened the Comme des Garçons on the west side in Chelsea, it was a first for luxury retail. But it was a neighborhood already rife with art galleries and the people who work at or visit art galleries. People who buy Comme des Garçons. The same can be said for the previous shop in Soho. Yes, this was well before Chanel cared about Spring Street. But the neighborhood's large, (formerly) inexpensive spaces and fantastic architecture were already attracting fashion consumers—gallerists, artists, creatives, the design-minded.
The original Dover Street Market in London isn't quite on Bond Street, the city's fabled luxury shopping strip. But it's only a block off the beaten path—within spitting distance of Vivienne Westwood and Moschino and all the others. So, not such a stretch. The concept shop's second location in Tokyo is in Ginza, a conservative but still extremely expensive locale where deep-pocketed fashion customers are part of the local fabric.
Meanwhile, East 30th at Lexington doesn't boast gallerists, or Vivienne Westwood, or low-cost housing attractive to sculptors and creative start-ups, or a glut of extremely deep-pocked consumers. East 30th at Lexington is the south end of Murray Hill's post-college college campus. It's a temporary holding area for the city's youngest pharmaceutical publicists and entry level traders. It abounds with frozen yogurt shops, cheap Indian food, walk-in salons, and noisy Irish pubs. The young guys in baggy suits and young woman wearing too much makeup and Burberry rainboots go without saying.
You can't make a fashionable neighborhood out of a lame clump of blocks that's already too expensive for artists and hipsters. And you can't get girls who already live in said lame clump and who live and die by Tory Burch flats and the cheapest sterling silver crap at Tiffany to shell out for brands like Lanvin or Alaïa unless you force brands like Lanvin and Alaïa to start monogramming cheap canvas.
I mean, The Gansevoort opened at East 29th at Park and the best they could do for in-hotel retail was Lacoste. But people who live nearby wear Lacoste, so it makes sense.
Anyway, this seven-story monument to high end fashion will be open in about a year. And, you know what? It'll probably be great. Because no one will ever be in there besides a sprinkling of fashion diehards making express pilgrimages and (obviously) adventurous tourists.
So, whatever, a great place to find good markdowns.
· Comme des Garçons Signed a Lease on 30th and Lexington [Racked NY]
· Rei Kawakubo Wants a Surprising Location for Her Latest Store [Racked NY]
· Love, Frank [Racked]