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On the fifth floor of Dover Street Market, mismatched letters above a large display spells out "We Make Noise Not Clothes." Inside that display, a white tee-shirt reads "God No! What Is Happening Here?" That pretty much sums up a shopper's experience at the multi-level store.
Last month we seriously (and we mean seriously) feted the opening of Rei Kawakubo's newest Dover Street Market in the supremely weird location of 160 Lexington Avenue. We covered the offerings from the first floor all the way to the Supreme-meets-Prada seventh—we even covered the line of shoppers outside on opening day, which looked like an unannounced street style parade. By all accounts, it looked like the mastermind behind Comme des Garçons had hit yet another home run.
But the opening hype has died down. The holidays are over, meaning there are fewer tourists roaming the streets, and people aren't spending like crazy anymore. Plus, it's polar vortexing like spring will never come, and outlets including WWD have reported that retailers are seeing a dip in sales. So what's it like at the market one month in?
On a late afternoon earlier this week, there were few visitors at Murray Hill's only department store. But like your studio apartment, Dover Street Market can easily seem crowded with just a few people on each of its irregularly-shaped floors. Without taking a head count, there may have been more sales associates than customers on the floor, who only sometimes greeted shoppers and often left them to discover the merchandise on their own.
The shoppers who did brave the cold were the predictable mix of fashionista locals and curious tourists that you see at most high-end stores. While the majority meandered from rack to rack and floor to floor, a woman in a thick fur coat lingered at the sales counter on the third floor, chatting with the associate about her purchase.
But a small turnout on a frozen weekday afternoon isn't exactly indicative of what's to come. After all, the most important thing to remember about Dover Street Market is that once or twice a year, they'll close up shop to revamp the entire space. That should guarantee repeat visits from locals and tourists alike.
Between these major overhauls, expect the merchandise to change frequently. Since most designers carried here aren't as prominently labeled as other department stores' shop-in-shops, it wouldn't be surprising to see Saint Laurent or Ann Demeulemeester in a different location next time you go.
While the novelty of the visit won't wear off, the question remains of whether that translates into sales. Shoppers will have a tough time finding an item whose price tag doesn't have three digits. But between the wealthy shoppers that populate Manhattan and the tourists buying extra suitcases to accommodate their shopping trips, it doesn't seem like Dover Street Market has anything to worry about in that department.
For the fashion-hungry, it's a place for the imagination to run wild. The lack of mannequins suggesting outfit combinations allows shoppers to mix and (mis)match on their own terms, perhaps layering a sheer Phoebe English tulle dress with a Junya Watanabe leather jacket from the men's line.
So with the marriage of streetwear chic and runway labels in a chapel reminiscent from the pages of Dr. Seuss's "Oh, The Places You'll Go," expect pretty much everyone to flock here like it's an Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met for a long time to come. It was the sole addition to our essential New York stores list this winter, and it'll take a tough competitor to knock it off.
· Stacking Up the DSM Prada and Louis Vuitton Shops [Racked NY]
· The Ten Most Important Things to Know About Dover Street Market [Racked NY]
· Mindblowing Street Style at the Dover Street Market Opening [Racked NY]