Boutique Strollin'

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

above: construction progress on the Topshop outlet which is scheduled to open in New York on April 2nd

Last Saturday, en route to the Yohji Yamamoto store to check out the Limi Feu spring collection, I dropped by Aloha Rag on Greenwich Street in that frontier of western Soho which just skirts the Holland Tunnel area. This area is quickly becoming known for its cutting edge fashion: the Rick Owens store and avant-garde menswear shrine, Atelier all lie within a few blocks of Aloha Rag, which is the New York outpost of the Honolulu-based outlet.

The boutique was pristine almost to the point of feeling like a dermatologist's office, with a reception desk/checkout area near the entrance, floor to ceiling windows and symmetrically spaced hangers of clothing and nooks of accessories. The store in New York is focused on emerging designers, but some of the names are very buzzworthy this season-- Balmain fringed sandals, for instance or signature separates from Alexander Wang and Martin Margiela.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover two new Japanese labels in the mix: Ylang Ylang, which had silk Lanvin-esque shift dresses with petal-fringed collars for winter hanging on the 70% off sale rack and Silvain Sylvian, menswear which looked appropriate enough for work, but still interesting enough to warrant the steep price tag.

I nearly fell for an oversized black cotton blouse from Henrik Vibskov, which was "New York designer boutique" reasonable at around $250, but reminding myself that I am heading away from oversized, black things, I kept my cool.

It was a beautiful Saturday, so I skipped over to the East Side, heading up Broadway, which is cementing a reputation of its own, as a Fast Fashion Alley. Here, tourists, fashionistas and recessionistas alike can indulge in stores such as Club Monaco, H&M, Uniqlo, Forever 21 and come April 2nd: the UK's darling Topshop. I took a little snap of the storefront, which looks to be progressing quite nicely. Despite dabbling in designer boutiques, with the hyper attentive salespeople, sometimes it's nice to parttake in a high fashion excursion. Sometimes it's nice to be an anonymous shopper, just another number waiting in line at the register. Feels more real sometimes, you know?

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