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The CM Graveyard: First Sartoria Partenopea... next J. Crew?

Riva

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It's not a dichotomy, nor is it a B&M thing. For example, I've bought belts from Meermin, shoe products from Orban's, in both cases along my shoes.

If you mean cross-brand curation, that is rarer but I've rarely seen stores do it well. In fact, if the person in charge (who may be an expert and tastemaker in their core field) is not an expert in the side field, the results can be detrimental to the brand, I am thinking in particular about shops I've seen selling Daniel Wellington watches with $200 ties (IMHO and experience, two orthogonal markets). The opposite is something like Malmaison by the Hourglass in SG which has an entire floor for Cartier as well as stocking brands like Charvet, Corthay and Frederique Malle.
I've always wondered who shops at stores like Malmaison but the Armoury seems to be flourishing well with unsold stuff channeled through Drop93.
 

am55

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I've always wondered who shops at stores like Malmaison but the Armoury seems to be flourishing well with unsold stuff channeled through Drop93.
The answer is 3 letters long :D

But more seriously I probably would, past a certain net worth. It's just nice to be able to walk in, see for yourself, and walk away with the item you want, not wasting a few hours looking for a good deal, negotiating, wondering if you'll get some kind of grey market horror, etc. I guess I'm making Derek's point.

And to be honest despite going to Charvet in place Vendome many times I was always a bit fearful of touching the merchandise, given the temple-like atmosphere inside; whereas the Malmaison sales guy encouraged me to play with the ties and get a feel for the springiness of those wonderful Charvet weaves and try tying a knot and was happy to show me around everything they had as well and spray every single Malle fragrance. Well, I haven't been there for years so maybe it's closed and been replaced by some kind of supermarket for LVMH portfolio brands with dead-eyed service...
 

crazn

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The answer is 3 letters long :D

But more seriously I probably would, past a certain net worth. It's just nice to be able to walk in, see for yourself, and walk away with the item you want, not wasting a few hours looking for a good deal, negotiating, wondering if you'll get some kind of grey market horror, etc. I guess I'm making Derek's point.

And to be honest despite going to Charvet in place Vendome many times I was always a bit fearful of touching the merchandise, given the temple-like atmosphere inside; whereas the Malmaison sales guy encouraged me to play with the ties and get a feel for the springiness of those wonderful Charvet weaves and try tying a knot and was happy to show me around everything they had as well and spray every single Malle fragrance. Well, I haven't been there for years so maybe it's closed and been replaced by some kind of supermarket for LVMH portfolio brands with dead-eyed service...
Sooooooo true. I played with my first charvet tie in bergdorf. Didn’t step in until my 4th trip in Paris. It’s was so intimidating back then and still is now. the temple of charvet is still there and it still is an edifice of stressful shopping. But almost zero parasitical shop assistants who stick to you like a leech when compared to the rest of now-burning Paris.
 
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LA Guy

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I agree. I think the market would have broken up with or without Amazon, and probably even with or without the internet. Very early 20th century shops were mostly top-to-bottom retailers. Even speciality stores, such as shirt tailors, would do more than shirts. Here are some photos of David and Charvet, two famous French shirtmakers, where men not only got shirts, but all the things they might want to wear with shirts (ties, cufflinks, gloves, scarves, etc)

View attachment 1084441 View attachment 1084442


Here's Hermes (much more than a saddlery shop) and J. Press (more than suits)

View attachment 1084445 View attachment 1084446

In an old 1936 article in Apparel Arts, which was a trade publication at the time and precursor to Esquire, the editors detailed out their ideal menswear shopping experience, which was a five floor building, along with a rooftop that had a penthouse restaurant and an open-air dining terrace. The idea was that each floor would have a dedicated section. This was basically like a traditional Saks Fifth Ave store, but purely dedicated to menswear.

View attachment 1084449 View attachment 1084448 View attachment 1084447

After World War II, however, there was a continuation of the sporting aesthetic that took over men's fashion during the interwar years. Men wanted clothes that revolved around outdoor activities, such as fishing, sport, and hiking. This was the beginning of sportswear and, later, designer clothing.

Which meant that the old model of one-stop-shopping was increasingly hard to maintain. There wasn't just one aesthetic -- Man in a Gray Flannel Suit type thing -- there were many. LL Bean, Abercrombie & Fitch, Levi's, and so forth. And clearly, those were going to be housed in separate locations because they needed different branding and marketing. And later, when designer fashion came to the fore, like with Armani, those weren't going to be housed at J. Press.

I'd say, from the interwar period to the 1990s, much of the break-up of the retail market followed the general break-up of clothing identities in men's fashion. People had more choices in terms of how they wanted to dress, and with that came the necessary marketing. Then in the internet era, you get the kind of marketing where everything has to fit into a tagline. UntuckIt, for example.

The whole business of marketing clothes has jus gotten more specialized, moving from a socially dictated "every man in a gray suit" era to a time when people can choose all sorts of identities. And you get shops not only marketing certain looks, but sometimes things as specifics as just socks. Happy Socks wasn't even just marketing only socks, but a very specific type of sock.

I just think there's still an important role for tastemakers in the retail space. For example, it's helpful to me to have Self Edge carry jewelry because I want to wear certain things with workwear. It's just nice to have someone "curate" that selection for me, tell me what goes with what. I would also be interested if Greg at NMWA started carrying watches because it's still a space I'm not very familiar with. I would trust his taste in these things. But it's good if people support shops when they do this, and not just comparison shop to death. If you rely on Self Edge for that curation, reward them with your business. Otherwise, you're just searching around Rakuten for random words, trying to figure out how to accessorize your cobbled-together workwear outfit.
Here's a counterpoint. You live in the Bay area, and benefit from the b&m stores there. For me, in Idaho, a store in Stockholm or Osaka is just as valuable as a store in San Francisco or New York.

Also, the curation you value is highly overrated. I think that you know this as much as do I.
 

crazn

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I feel like the argument that it's "small retailers or Amazon" is a false dichotomy.

Aside from the big boys, small retailers mostly simply have to compete with many other small retailers, and can't rely on local monopolies as was the case a couple of decades ago. Amazon notoriously has had great difficulty breaking into the luxury market, and it's not as though any stoes but other small retailer are selling Carol Christian Poell or Tie your Tie or Kapital. With notable exceptions, I find a lot of the complaints from small retailers simple bellyaching. I remember the owners of Atelier New York complaining about EU prices. However, the fact was that aside from their slightly higher prices that they refused to lower, 10-20% (VAT discounts are often lower than the VAT rate, because a lot of small retailers use third party's to deal with their VAT accounting for overseas customers), based on a litany of ultimately specious excuses, their very unfriendly demeanor and nearly deliberately uninviting store, compared to say, a PNP-Firenze or a Hide-M (my prefered source of artisanal goods), made them even more uncompetitive.

It's not like my CCP leather jacket from PNP was any cheaper than it would have been from l'Eclaireur or Atelier or Lazzari or the few other CCP stockists. I used @dieworkwear 's criterion and simply bought from the retailer that I'd had the best in store experience with (though l'Eclaireur Herrod is also remarkably and maybe surprisingly friendly.) In contrast, my wife won't buy a single thing from PNP-Firenze Women, since we were accused of using our cellphones cameras to... commit goth ninja espionage? by the proprietor when we were simply responding to texts (it was during Pitti Uomo, and we were taking a short break to do some shopping between meetings).

Just as a bragging rights thing. I have GoodArt Hollywood bracelets (white "cracked" leather with the silver rose button cover) that was busted up and lost its cap, well before Kiya started carrying it.
Hahaha. Reminds me of the good old days of Paris. When you get ignored because your skin ain’t white enough and they assume u don’t speak the language, and your camera phone was a sure sign of photographs to send a copy back to somewhere in Asia for counterfeiting. Now it’s a please take more photographs so your entire prosperous village can buy up my store stock...
 

crazn

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He says, in post #1925 on a long running thread where people are trading lots of interesting viewpoints about just this topic.

You have a very narrow view. I don't know if you're being deliberately antagonizing or not, but I am pretty sure you are. On top of that, someone who never leaves his house except to go to theme parks then telling folks they don't understand the world and need to travel more is so rich in irony you almost HAVE to be trolling.

For the rest of the forum, I hope you can please ignore the troll and continue. I have enjoyed many viewpoints here and been thinking about them in comparison to my own experiences, and enjoy much of the ongoing discussion.
I will agree here that some aspects of the preaching are too myopic. Reinforcing the idea that historical tastemaking alpha cities should be leading the way and the other less fortunate folk who do not live in these palaces of urban cosmopolitanism don’t know better and should not have too much aspirations and options. Apparently Amazon/Walmart does know better, as do a lot of internet shops. Accessing the consumer with the same desire but not the same availability.
 

troika

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Ok so if the future of b&m retail is experiences, can we call out some brands that are doing this really well?

I haven't been there yet but I hear the new Nike in soho is supposed to be dope. And of course totokaleo and DSM are great examples. Even the temp space toto was in is super dope.
 

Loathing

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It's very different elsewhere in the world, you should travel sometimes. Action is preferred vs writing a bunch of stuff that won't change anything. And if we tried but still can't make a change then move on.
No one is asking you to change your shopping habits if you live in area with crappy shops. You are tilting at windmills.
 

JJ Katz

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Interesting intersection of descriptive (what is) and normative (what ought to be) posts, in this thread.

I think many here agree with the basic thesis that the signalling and non-utilitarian content of clothing is on a long-term diminishing trend and that the same is true of the retail distribution industry. Aside from a diminishing cohort of hold-overs, nostalgics and aficionados, each year there are fewer men who value tailored, quality clothing and shopping for it in well-appointed, full-service premises.

On that basis, without getting too fancy about retail / distribution microeconomics, I think the implications for many ‘CM’ brands and retailers are evidently direr.

At the same time, long-tail/cultural fragmentation and economic bifurcation effects should allow certain places to retain a storing offering and London has been cited as one such example, followed by other world cities like NYC, etc.

Die Workwear notes the shift, among clothes-conscious men, from shopping in one or a few locations to shopping (or remote ordering) from a larger number of suppliers. I think the mix of smaller/narrower inventory and low search costs make this inevitable. The only physical shops that offer a broad set of options appear to be priced for people who would typically wear upward of 3-4k of clothing at a time (you know, Bresciani socks, C&J shoes, Ring Jacket blazer, etc.). That’s probably, what, 0.01% of men?

On the ‘showrooming’ issue, personally I avoid it but it’s inevitable. I recall a particularly distasteful ad campaign in the UK years ago (form an electronics website) that actively encouraged people to do this. In the case of a brand that has single-brand retail outlets and an online presence, I think it’s much less objectionable and indeed we’ve seen on-line-only brands open showrooms for marketing purposes.
 

Riva

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The only physical shops that offer a broad set of options appear to be priced for people who would typically wear upward of 3-4k of clothing at a time (you know, Bresciani socks, C&J shoes, Ring Jacket blazer, etc.). That’s probably, what, 0.01% of men?
Well RJ can be as low as $350-600 so hardly 4k total unless you're counting the watch. SF members know better than to spend that much. But I get your point. It's perhaps higher and more common to see people walking with that much valued clothing when they're wearing fashion brands.
 

smittycl

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Well RJ can be as low as $350-600 so hardly 4k total unless you're counting the watch. SF members know better than to spend that much. But I get your point. It's perhaps higher and more common to see people walking with that much valued clothing when they're wearing fashion brands.
I agree. All us CM dudes here on Styleforum probably do dress daily in that price range but ensure we don't actually pay full retail. Today's wardrobe (not including overcoat, scarf, gloves or watch):

Ermenegildo Zegna brown plaid cashmere sport coat ($3k retail, paid $400 NWT from favorite eBay vendor)
Turnbull & Asser tie ($200 retail, $50 NWT again from eBay)
Ermenegildo Zegna air force blue flannel pants ($400 retail at Barneys, $100 at Barneys final sale)
Hickey Freeman blue dress shirt ($250 retail, $100 on sale)
C&J Chelsea boots ($600 retail as I have a rough time getting shoes that fit so online rarely works for me)
 

Riva

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I agree. All us CM dudes here on Styleforum probably do dress daily in that price range but ensure we don't actually pay full retail. Today's wardrobe (not including overcoat, scarf, gloves or watch):

Ermenegildo Zegna brown plaid cashmere sport coat ($3k retail, paid $400 NWT from favorite eBay vendor)
Turnbull & Asser tie ($200 retail, $50 NWT again from eBay)
Ermenegildo Zegna air force blue flannel pants ($400 retail at Barneys, $100 at Barneys final sale)
Hickey Freeman blue dress shirt ($250 retail, $100 on sale)
C&J Chelsea boots ($600 retail as I have a rough time getting shoes that fit so online rarely works for me)
I bet you'll have to shell out a lot more if you bought those from a B&M store. Blessed are online stores.
 

smittycl

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I bet you'll have to shell out a lot more if you bought those from a B&M store. Blessed are online stores.
Definitely. The NWT stuff is seemingly always end-of-season merchandise from the big luxury retailers. Occasionally it's NOS. Lots of Barneys, Saks, even Oxxford (not a big retailer but topshelfapparel on eBay gets samples and MTM items that were not picked up for some reason). They just need to get rid of it to make room for the next season's items. I'm sure to them it's just a big tax write-off at that point. Much different situation than what a small retailer faces.

I'm happy to hunt for this stuff as it's basically my hobby as well.
 

Riva

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Definitely. The NWT stuff is seemingly always end-of-season merchandise from the big luxury retailers. Occasionally it's NOS. Lots of Barneys, Saks, even Oxxford (not a big retailer but topshelfapparel on eBay gets samples and MTM items that were not picked up for some reason). They just need to get rid of it to make room for the next season's items. I'm sure to them it's just a big tax write-off at that point. Much different situation than what a small retailer faces.

I'm happy to hunt for this stuff as it's basically my hobby as well.
Aren't we all? So who buys the $1500 jacket IRL?
 

smittycl

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Aren't we all? So who buys the $1500 jacket IRL?
I would guess people at the level of wealth where those numbers don't matter. My first time in Barneys on the suit floor I was in summer tourist wear and the head salesman looked up from his paper and smiled over to his associate, obviously passing off a low-roller. My wife was miffed but I thought it was funny. (I ended up buying a fantastic Canali Exclusive summer suit, on sale of course). I imagine folks in NYC come in and buy several Isaia at once or set up an MTM appointment for Brioni. The junior associate indicated as much without being too specific.

They apparently stock Sartorio as a gateway drug toward full-up Kiton. Get the young bankers and Wall Street types hooked early and lead them into the $10k suits.

Funny somewhat-related story: Our next trip to NYC my wife went back to the hotel for a nap and I hit Paul Stuart and Barneys again. Thought I'd stop by Ralph Lauren's Polo Bar for a Rye Manhattan when it opened at 5:00. Doorman explained they are not really a bar but require reservations (implied: to keep the riff-raff out so Kanye and Woody Allen can enjoy a quiet drink I guess). I said I just wanted to come in for a cocktail as I'd heard the place was great. He spoke into a mic and put his hand to his earpiece like a Secret Service agent. I saw the manager (amazingly attractive 30-something) check me out through the glass and and nod her head. This trip I was dressed well and passed pseudo-1%er muster I guess. :blush:

Two Whistle Pig Rye Manhattans plus tip was around $90 so they stuck me pretty good as the saying goes.
 

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