Shopping in the city on a Sunday is a brave undertaking for a New Yorker. Areas to avoid are 5th avenue uptown and Broadway in Soho. While there are two faces of Sohos that are received by the Sunday afternoon pedestrian: casual brunching and shopping on a mission, I braved the latter. Today I helped one of my girlfriends find work clothes for a new job. Restraining from spending money, I put all my effort into playing stylist for my friend and observing holiday retail and merchandising techniques at America's favorite stores.
The store that surprised me the most was Banana Republic. The Gap Inc. label has successfully marketed conservative yet modern business clothes to the American working woman for years, while avoiding the mass-produced cardigan epidemic of its sister stores Gap and Old Navy. The lay out reminded me of a holiday-pop up exhibition. Sort of like Macy's annual Santaland spectacle in Minneapolis. People waived in and out of individual rooms to admire the different clothing displays. The store itself felt like being in a mini-museum or large apartment. Was this BR's way of an exclusive shopping experience? While the e-shopping world has worked so hard to compete with the fully branded shopping experience stores give, it's sort of ironic that stores now have to compete with the isolated online consumer experience.
All over Soho I was greeted by extremely overzealous salespeople that offered "20% off cash-a-mere" products and hoped your experience in their store was euphoric. I think their strategy must be to create such an infectious energy that the customer wants to buy!buy!buy!. Au contraire, my hangover radar kicked in and mapped out the safest route to avoid unneeded sales lectures.
Here are a few observations:
Top shop crams their sections together and I was constantly running into people. Also, I am not paying $70 for leggings.
Club Monaco: What is with the drifting racks of clothes that are always in the center of the back room? Are they on sale? Are they in transit?
Mango: Everything was too glitzy, cheap, and overdone. I have always been a huge fan of the spanish chain, but was unimpressed. Also, I am a lazy shopper and don't want to invest in the 3 step process of walking past the long row of chairs only to have to bend down and unfold the shirt I couldn't see from across the room.
Gap: Again, as a lazy shopper, I advise to never put women's clothing on the second floor. I got dragged up the stairs only to reach disappoinment.
Uniqlo: the store was freezing inside. Is this a ploy to get people to try on coats? Asthetically, it's like Old Navy meets Dylans Candy Bar meets a Library. I was lost.
Speaking of Old Navy, that sam's club of a store is one breath of fresh air. I don't really like any of the clothes (Minus the holiday pajama pant collection) but for some reason Old Navy has just always made me happy. And I still know half of the performance fleece song.
This said, I am spending next sunday brunching, because I am exhausted.