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chad

future stores from nytimes

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a short article on shops like collette, and new one microzine in london.

http://nytimes.com/2003/12/30/fashion/30STOR.html

microzine.jpg

If fashion seemed plagued last year with the chronic drears, the economy was only partly to blame. One of the most poorly kept secrets among analysts of the clothing business and, indeed, of retailing in general is that consumers have begun defecting from the culture of shopping, surfeited with information and alienated by what increasingly seems like the mere illusion of choice.

"You've got an economy that is 90 percent driven by consumers and reliant on convincing people to keep buying stuff," said Barry Schwartz, a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College and the author of "The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less" (soon to be published by HarperCollins). "You also have a culture in which people are saturated, looking for ways to simplify their lives and to reduce time spent trying to figure out what to buy."

Mr. Schwartz illustrated his point with a story about shopping for jeans. Once a straightforward transaction in the days of fewer brands and styles, buying blue jeans now involves threading a maze of brands, colors, styles and fit. "The presumption we've been operating under is that, if some choice is good, more is better," he said.

The flaw in that thinking became clear at the local mall, where, Mr. Schwartz said, he found "a hundred different varieties of jeans and a sudden need to know which ones were the best, and fit best, despite my former complete indifference to that."

Mr. Schwartz explained that all manner of problems arise when consumers are provided with too much choice, an observation that far-seeing retailers intuitively know. Before Colette in Paris became a consumer mecca, it was considered something new: a concept store. The concept in question was never all that complicated. For Colette, Sarah Lerfel and her talented buyers selected goods from the fashion marketplace as if the shop on the Rue St.-Honoré were a monthly evolving independent magazine.

Ms. Lerfel, who owns Colette with her mother, thus put herself at the forefront of those adapting the truths Mr. Schwartz alludes to in his book and also revived some of the traditional functions played by the buyers in retailing's grand scheme.

Robert Burke, the fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman, said: "It all goes back to being a merchant, really understanding how to merchandise and not just buy brands." In the days before label dressing became viral and designers took to calling the shots, department store buyers functioned as editorial filters for consumers. "If you can speak to a group of people through your taste, you have a business," Mr. Burke said. "I think that's coming back."

Consumers want to see a point of view when they are shopping, said Christopher Lee, a marketing consultant and former creative director at Reebok. That anyhow was the basis for opening Microzine, Mr. Lee's new shop in a converted warehouse in the Islington section of London. The plan behind Microzine was simple, he said last week: Dose consumer fatigue with the tonic of quirky but well-chosen goods. Add written testimonials from buyers. Change themes and renew stock as often as you can.

In November, the store's catholic offerings included a hiking jacket from Canada Goose, casual wear by the traditional tailors Gieves & Hawkes, sweatshirts by Cockfighter, a $6,000 cross-training bike and a yellow digital camera that Casio produced as a promotional tie-in with the film "Kill Bill, Vol. 1."

"You could compare it to Colette or Urban Outfitters or Corso Como," Mr. Lee said. A better analogy, however, might be one of the new crop of shrewdly organized shoppers' magazines.

"Everyone's got the same product, and consumers are fed up," Mr. Lee said. "They want somethi

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Interesting piece; I had seen it in the Times a few days ago. I think there's definitely something to be said for the tight curation at a place like Moss, or Flight 001, to cut through the fog of meaningless (non)options.

That said, though, this schema only works when there's a store or stores in your community that shares a design ethos with you, and for folks like us this almost by definition means living in a metropolitan area with a catchment area big enough to make a narrow selection economic. Sucks for the folks who don't happen to live in Lontokyork.

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i agree, but sometimes the best finds are not in lontokyork, in little towns that stock a quirky collection from vintage watches to organic soup. it seems they can escape homogenous cancer that plagues any big metropolitan area where every shop seems to be stocking the same items. most mum and pop stores have the freedom to select a diverse mix without being swept up by the economics of lontokyork.

but that said, i am not going shopping in country bumpkin towns any time soon! and the little towns i am talking about are probably full of the lontokyork crowd going to their weekend houses in the country.

does anyone else love the phrase country bumpkin?

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I like these so-called concept stores because I just don't have the time to go hunting down stuff anymore. I like that I know a select few shops where I can usually find those cool things I see in the magazines I read/browse every month. That being said, it is true that you start seeing the same things popping up at different places, but not enought to complain about it.

Jean Snow

http://jeansnow.net

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this NY times article is hardly the FUTURE...more like the past. i mean COLLETE has been around now for almost 10 years. CORSO COMO too...and MICROZINE sounds like a 2004 version of what REMO did in 1988 [and THAT never worked]... as for Japan--- well AND A was modelled on COLETTE and that has had pretty mixed success... the concept store CLEANING was a disaster. BEAMS NEWS still hanging in there but despite lots of highly edited cool products i never feel like buying anything in there since you feel like you are not getting to see all the best options.

I predict the next BIG shopping experience will be 'MOBSHOPS' ?! --- mobile shops --- stuff like VACANT where the product and store actually travels around the world...

anyone agree???

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this NY times article is hardly the FUTURE...more like the past. i mean COLLETE has been around now for almost 10 years. CORSO COMO too...and MICROZINE sounds like a 2004 version of what REMO did in 1988 [and THAT never worked]... as for Japan--- well AND A was modelled on COLETTE and that has had pretty mixed success... the concept store CLEANING was a disaster. BEAMS NEWS still hanging in there but despite lots of highly edited cool products i never feel like buying anything in there since you feel like you are not getting to see all the best options.

I predict the next BIG shopping experience will be 'MOBSHOPS' ?! --- mobile shops --- stuff like VACANT where the product and store actually travels around the world...

anyone agree???

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this NY times article is hardly the FUTURE...more like the past. i mean COLLETE has been around now for almost 10 years. CORSO COMO too...and MICROZINE sounds like a 2004 version of what REMO did in 1988 [and THAT never worked]... as for Japan--- well AND A was modelled on COLETTE and that has had pretty mixed success... the concept store CLEANING was a disaster. BEAMS NEWS still hanging in there but despite lots of highly edited cool products i never feel like buying anything in there since you feel like you are not getting to see all the best options.

I predict the next BIG shopping experience will be 'MOBSHOPS' ?! --- mobile shops --- stuff like VACANT where the product and store actually travels around the world...

anyone agree???

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ok... so got that off my chest... but the stock at microzine DOES look rather FABULOUS...!

http://www.microzine.co.uk/

Edited by wayne on Jan 5, 2004 at 06:41 PM

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Beams News (as well as the Beams Street in Ikebukuro) are definitely not the first place to look. For starters, they never seem to change their selection. My place of choice of designer goods is Parco, on the design levels (basement of Parco Part 2 in Shibuya, 5th floor of Parco in Ikebukuro). I can spend an hour in Delfonics alone. Cibone in Aoyama is also quite nice, although there is more emphasis on furnishings. And A is definitely not very high on my list.

Jean Snow

http://jeansnow.net

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Wayne:

As Robert Fripp once said, "It's a transition from what you might call the old world - which is

now dead - into the new world, which is nascent. In the new world the characteristic unit will be small, highly mobile, independent and intelligent."

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wayne, it sounds like an art exhibition touring the world, but i guess that is where one tangent of retailing is heading. going to an exhibition to look at sneakers and ashtrays.

these days i seem to be only going to stores to look at the stores - the merchandise has lost its appeal to rock star designers outdoing each other in retail battle fields.

but with globalisation aren't these products everywhere anyway? everything is generic, as seen in milan, tokyo, wherever. ubiquitous retailing.

but i like the idea anyway... buying some sneakers that i know have been all around the world (but without me in them!) - except the cost would be probitively high.

i am imagining an alternate reality, where colette is what walmart is now. mega world dominating select shops.

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Quote: these days i seem to be only going to stores to look at the stores - the merchandise has lost its appeal to rock star designers outdoing each other in retail battle fields.

EXACTLY...thats what ive been saying for YEARS. Its all about walking into some spectacular fabulous SPACE, soaking up the ATMOSPHERE, and getting so INSPIRED you go home and immediately write a review about the adventure on SUPERFUTURE. Fuck the merchandise! its the SHOPPING EXPERIENCE! and it doesnt cost a cent...

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i think soon the products can be completely cut out.

just the store remains, and its review on superfuture.

back in the good old days i used to go into the bathing ape stores for inspiration, meditation, and excitement, but walk out empty handed.... but then run up to yoyogi park and buy the counterfeit/used/stolen bathing ape clothes for cheap. with a little bargaining you can get a sweater and they throw in a shirt and stickers.

that is how shopping should be. tokyo retail fabulousness with bangkok counterfeit street selling and cut-throat bargaining.... at least for people with prada taste on a uniqlo budget.

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