Retail apocalypse is ripping through the United States leaving brick-and-mortar boutiques and mall chain behemoths alike wobbling on the brink of irrelevance as online shopping becomes the norm for consumers. The Atlantic reported the first third of 2017 has witnessed nine major retail bankruptcies, major apparel companies’ stocks plunging to new lows, and flagship after flagship closing their doors. The meteoric rise of alternative, often community-run platforms for buying, selling and trading goods online has directly crippled the retail industry. Shoppers, who are already conditioned to shop on sale, now have access to secondhand designer items at mere fractions of retail prices.
Alternative marketplaces are nowhere near a new phenomenon. In the days before sites like eBay, Y! Japan and Grailed, dedicated shoppers scoured flea markets, thrift shops and consignment stores alike for designer threads amidst piles of musty windbreakers and knockoff COOGI sweaters. Each independent, enthusiast-run online shop carrying marked-up goods initially purveyed through Rakuten mirrors my own foray into the world of e-commerce. In the 2000s, my middle-school self was conducting a legally-questionable scheme of funneling East Asian street fashion back to the United States to shill at higher prices on LiveJournal. As the internet has matured, the number of alternative marketplaces has multiplied and with each iteration they become more targeted and communal.
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Products are a reflection of the culture they are created in and one of the best parts of travelling is being able to bring home items from diverse foreign cultures. Tiger Beer was Singapore’s first locally brewed beer and they have brought some great products from across Asia together for a special New York pop-up store. Tiger Beer has turned the storefront of 343 Canal St. into Tiger Trading Co; a carefully curated pop-up with over 800 items that span design, fashion, artwork, and technology. The items include rare products from labels including Opening Ceremony, Undercover, Neighborhood, Head Porter and Snow Peak. The items originate from countries including China, Vietnam and South Korea. The best part about the experience is that visitors can take home something from the store absolutely free.
Athletic minded sportswear label Reigning Champ has opened it’s first flagship store in Vancouver, Canada. The store is beautifully designed by architect Peter Cardew. The minimal space furnished with furnishings made of subway tile and natural wood. I love many of the details in the space from the clothes hangers to the way folded crewneck sweatshirts are presented. The address is below for those who want to visit.
2119 West 4th Ave.
Vancouver BC Canada V6K 1N7
For those who can’t make it to the new flagship, East Dane has a large selection of Reigning Champ at the moment. Click through for more images of the shop.
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Freund Von Freuden has posted an interview with the owner of Union LA , Chris Gibbs. Union LA has established itself as a cornerstone of streetwear culture in America and the interview delves into Chris’ day to day life and how he got to where he is today. A short excerpt from the interview below.
“Streetwear is to fashion what Punk, Hip Hop and Jazz were to mainstream music. It started as a youth driven counter-culture but as it matures, it gets more sophisticated. Our store, specifically represents the more sophisticated side of this style of clothing. This more refined version now attracts customers that may not have ever been into it before. Creative, open-minded and sometimes older clientele are now appreciating the witty and creative sensibilities of streetwear. I refer to it as “Luxury Street”.”
See the entire feature HERE.
One of the more innovative takes on retail I’ve seen in 2012, Head Porter has opened a ‘Snow Egg’ concept shop/ski cafe. Shaped like an Igloo but filled with clothing and accessories from the Head Porter line the shop will be open until Mar 31, 2013.
Hokkaido Niseko is known for it’s “powder snow” and being one of the best spots in the world to Ski or snowboard. Visitors can enjoy love music and visual experience of the panorama screen under the SNOW EGG dome.
Visit the offical website for more info.
A very happy 10th birthday to Opening Ceremony. They have upheld downtown New York culture for a decade now and show no signs of slowing down. I was lucky enough to attend the birthday bash at Webster Hall and it was more than just a fashion week party; it was a heartfelt nostalgic reminder to years past. Humberto and Carol have built an empire upon the dreams they had growing up, I’m so proud to see them living them out on a daily basis.
Above is a video featuring some of the OC homeboys and homegirls and everyone looks estatic. Heres to Opening Ceremony and another incredible decade of history-making.
This past week I saw a notification pop-up from Graham Newmarch inviting me to become a fan of re.porter. Clicking through to the facebook page and subsequently the website, I was greeted with pieces from CCP, Ann Demeulemeester, and Julius. What initially struck me was the quality and consistency of the styling and the rarity of some pieces. I could tell this was not the average webstore. I reached out to Graham [founder of re.porter] to learn more about his venture and gain insight to his unique approach to online retail.
Explain the concept behind re. porter and how the site came to be
Good things happen when friends move to china. that is to say, because my best friends moved to Guangzhou, leaving me [and all their professional studio equipment] behind. I had already been doing consignment via eBay for some of my retail clients, and didn’t hesitate to seize this opportunity to take it to an entirely new level.
re. porter, literally translated, means to wear again. It’s a simple play on words with the prêt-a-porter collections we’re all so accustomed to drooling over a palm-full of times each year. As simple as it might be though, it says a lot about what I want re. porter to become.
High fashion is supposed to exist outside the strictures of time-driven stresses. it’s supposed to remain unaffected & uninfluenced by trends, focusing instead on the exploration of its own particular expression, voice, or style. it’s supposed to be timeless…
Unfortunately, when it comes to the retail side of things , time is a very real factor – and of prime concern. boutiques are under severe pressure to get stock in as soon as possible, and move it out just as fast. Having spent a lot of time working in luxury retail [Komakino in Vancouver, and Layers in London] I’d always wanted to run my own store, but never liked the aggressive nature of brick and mortar sales – and the luxury retail-world as a whole.
With re. porter – I have a unique opportunity to pay homage to the timelessness I’ve always so idealistically attributed to my favourite designers’ work. old[er] pieces from Ann Demeulemeester, Rick Owens, or Damir Doma combine effortlessly with any of their latest seasons’ offerings. re. porter provides its clients with the opportunity to find sold-out gems from their favourite designers’ past seasons – hopefully aiding & abetting avant-garde collectors at-large in their individual quests for fashion’s holy-grails.
Many of our clients don’t even realize we’re a primarily consignment-based operation. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the biggest indicator that we’re doing our job correctly. We place prime importance on presentation, and believe by showcasing consigned goods with equal [or more] integrity as others do new stock – we pay proper respect to the artistry of the work, and the timelessness of its respective aesthetic.
How do you source and select what makes it up for sale on re. porter?
Sourcing takes up the grand majority of my time. as re. porter is by-and-large a consignment based operation, I spend my days corresponding with clients and collectors alike, offering them the opportunity to consign with our store.
That being said, not everything in the store is previously owned. I spend a fair amount of time sourcing items from the world’s various online vintage and second-hand markets – where it’s not rare to find completely new gems-of-old; who never found their destined customer before the boutique was forced to move them along.
In the months leading up to launch, it wasn’t unusual for me to spend twelve [or more] hours a day corresponding with clients, collectors, and boutiques – convincing them to consign with us and calmly reassuring them i wasn’t actually a criminal. Now that we’ve launched it would seem the website does most of that work for me, and i can focus on what products i choose to take on consignment, rather than searching for any to consign at all.
The process of selection itself is fairly straightforward. I’m pretty much my own client, that is to say – my target client-base knows these designers just as well as i do.As in all buying, there’s a bit of logistics involved, but what I do is more akin to curating a gallery; choosing my stock based on its [already proven] success in both the first-sale & after-sales markets, “Hrmmm, should i really take these highly-coveted works of artisanal beauty on for consignment? I mean, I remember them selling out world-wide in about the blink of a bomb, and they RARELY pop-up on the internet and even MORE rarely stay-up…” it seems pretty obvious when explained.
What are your long term plans for re. porter? Is a physical location in the future?
I definitely have some exciting plans for how to integrate re. porter into the world of flesh & bone – but such plans will never involve bricks, mortar, or fixed locations.The adaptability afforded us by being a strictly online operation will allow re. porter [Vancouver] to easily transition into re. porter [Tokyo], you know… as an example. But in the more immediate meantime, look for re. porter to temporarily pop-up in different locations across North America in true guerrilla-style fashion.
You’ll witness the website evolve as well, adding a lot more functionality & control to the [already awesome] home page. We’re hoping this will provide us with the ability to showcase specific pieces & brands – and even help us feature young designers, local or otherwise.
What is inspiring you of late in fashion? Any designers or collections really catching your eye?
This Fall / Winter 2012’s runway collections [both men’s & women’s] were some of the best, & most inspiring shows I’d seen in years. Yohji’s women’s show was gorgeous, everything I’ve always loved about him just emphasized, colored and complemented in a fashion I hadn’t seen for so long. Julius_7’s runway show truly wowed me for the first time ever this season – eschewing their overtly anime-inspired styling for a more wearable aesthetic [more akin to how real people wear the brand] just made this show sing for me. A.F. Vandervorst probably moved me more than anything else this season though, with the styling, clothes, casting & music all making me wonder how the brand’s nearly impossible to find stocked sometimes.
However, I’m more of a fashion collector, rather than consumer, and actually spend most of my time tracking down items from clothing’s past; items I either missed out on because I didn’t have money at the time of release, or simply because they were released before I’d ever even cared for clothes… my most cherished designer of all time is an artisanal Italian designer named Maurizio Altieri. he started the design collective Carpe Diem, and most of the clothes I’m constantly tracking down are Carpe Diem, l’maltieri, m.a+, or label under construction [all ex-carpe diem designers] release.
Honestly though, there’s too many Carpe Diem scions showing up these days, with designers riding their carpe-affiliation coat-tails to undeserved levels of success. That being said, the designer Mariavittoria Sargentini’s label marvielab, is one particular brand I exempt from this derision. her work is some of my most cherished these days – encapsulating every Carpe Diem nuance I miss in a fresh manner all of her own.
On the more fun side of fashion though Takahiro Miyashita’s new shit [the soloist] is something to appreciate and if I’m ever bored i just browse through Junya Watanabe’s catalog of women’s collections for some eye-candy & inspiration.
Otherwise, I’ve always loved Ann, old[er] Raf, and everything Rick – with the latter being the reason for my first forays into this world of fashion. Rick took weird mainstream, and they love him for it – it’s almost too good to be true.
With so many online shopping experiences available now. What do you think the market is missing? What unique perspectives are you bringing to online retail with re. porter?
Honestly, the online shopping world is doing pretty okay. I wouldn’t say there’s much missing but I would want to call a lot of places out for lazy styling, lazy web-design, and lazy customer service. However, online is rarely a boutique’s primary concern as they’re too busy focusing on their walk-in clients.
Personally, I want the online shopping experience to mirror my own esteem for the clothing I’m buying. I’ll refrain from naming names, but i see too many online stores these days whose presentation shows absolutely no respect for the value of the product they’re selling. Stop with the annoying intro screens set to macabre music, stop with the floating images over pixelated backdrops, and stop showing me your stupid model’s blue-steeled or perv-stach’ed expressions – I don’t want to buy your clothes if you think I find that shit appealing.
That being said, I have to give credit where credit is due – and that is to places like LN-CC for their brilliant styling, casting, buying, & presentation; and to Atelier New York for its distinctively artful touch [not to mention their unparalleled customer service and encyclopaedically-brained sales associates].
With re. porter, we aim to offer a uniquely intimate online shopping experience – taking the obsequious levels of service experienced in the world’s finest men’s boutiques, and directly transposing it to the online world. this is why we’ve chosen to employ an enquiry-based purchasing system. We prefer directly communicating every purchase with our clients – as it allows us to develop the same client/clothier relationship that occurs in proper brick ‘n mortar boutiques.
I’m a Shakespearean actor by training, and my favourite Elizabethan theatre critic always said a play was most successful when its form matched its content. That is to say – how a piece is presented is every bit as important as the piece itself. With re. porter, I believe we’ve created an online photographic-playground; one part gallery, every part boutique that not only emphasizes, but relies on the beauty of the stock it houses to create a truly unified luxury shopping experience.
re. porter, in essence, is a project borne purely out of passion for the work it houses – and we hope it shows.
Questions and Introduction by Rocky Li
All Images via re.porter
Undercover is a brand that fully commits to it’s retail buildouts throughout Asia. The shop in Tokyo in Aoyama is definetly a must-see when I finally visit Japan. Despite Jun Takahashi’s design sensibilities shifting throughout the years , what has not changed is his reverence of retail as more than a place of commerce. Jun injects this shop with his own design inspiration ; collecting an enviable number of original Braun devices. As Mr.Takahasi’s design ethos has shifted to really embrace the idea of ‘less but better’, so has the design of his shops.
5-3-18 minami aoyama, minato-ku
+81 3 3407 1232