Forever 21: Teen Fashion Retailer on The Brink of Filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection.

Fashion retailer Forever 21 Inc. is on the verge of filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection according to sources familiar with the failing fashion retail brand. A decline in sales and hemorrhaging cash, puts the retail fashion store chain in dire straights.

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Negotiations with possible lenders to help them restructure debt has come to a standstill. Forever 21 has refused to comment on the matter to all press inquires. “People” familiar with the current state of affairs (anonymous by request inside sources) a Chapter 11 filing would allow them to close stores that are not making a profit and restructure capital to avoid a total retail collapse of the brands brick and mortar stores.

As this was not enough such a move would cause a ripple effect for major mall owners, as Forever 21 is one of the last and largest mall tenants still in the game…..for now after a huge wave of other retail bankruptcies and closures. (“Indianapolis-based Simon counts Forever 21 as its sixth-largest tenant excluding department stores, with 99 outlets covering 1.5 million square feet, according to a filing as of March 31 2019″).

BBkEDxVForever 21 was founded in 1984 and has about 800 locations spread across the U.S., Asia. Europe, and Latin America. While the future of this fast-fashion retail chain is uncertain, it marks another indicator of the effects of the retail apocalypse sweeping over the country and overseas.

Editorial: The Day an Elderly Russian Woman Reminded Me What I Already Knew, But Forgotten.

Sitting on the bus being quite annoyed by some recent events, an old Russian lady sat next to me and began a cheerful conversation with me (one sided). She smiled as she spoke to me like we have known each other for years. As she spoke only in Russian, I realized she didn’t speak English at all, and spoke to me in Russian in such a casual way, not caring and knowing I didn’t speak the language. I returned to my phone (Facebook) and thought she would stop talking shortly…she did not.

I turned to her and smiled, while she pulled some mini home baked biscuits and strawberry shake from her purse. She continued to speak to me in Russian while eating. Being respectful, I place my phone on my lap and give her my full attention. The old woman than pulled another cake from her purse, and offered it to me, I refused at first, but she insisted, in a passive aggressive way that dotting mother’s and grandmother’s use to get you to do something (how very sweet she was).

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I had no intention of eating it, but as she continued speaking to me in such a gentle and loving voice, I found myself taking several bites (she did bake these herself). Before I knew it, I had finished it, and she offered me another, I accepted it without hesitation this time. As I gazed at her nodding my head, something amazing happened. I somehow began to understand the things she was saying to me! (an Epiphany?).

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Even though I don’t speak Russian, by observing her hand gestures, and facial expressions (and much empathy) I understood that she was telling me about how New York was during her lifetime in the past, how the neighborhood’s have changed, where the Communists use to live, when blacks moved in, and which buildings still stands from her time. She than took out her cell phone (her phone was much larger in size, and better than mine) and showed me a photo of herself and her husband from the 1940’s (she was a looker, and her husband quite handsome). She then showed me her three carrot diamond engagement ring and wedding band. Then she went on to explain to me (like a loving mother) that I am so handsome, and should marry a nice beautiful girl (she pointed to the finger on my left hand). When our stop came she stood up and turned to me (still smiling) and said goodbye.

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I had such a wonderful feeling as I disembarked the bus, and wondered what just happened. She told me that no matter what skin color you are, what Language you speak, what nationality or ethnicity you are, that we are all the same, and not very different from each other. We can all understand, connect and love one another!

 

Mike Strange

August 27, 2017  4:49 PM

Barney’s New York Files for Chapter 11: What Will Become of This Clothing Brand Moving Forward?

Luxury iconic clothing brand Barney’s New York has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday August 6th citing rapidly rising rents and a huge decline in retail customers, as the luxury brand failed to change with the times and become more modern.

downloadTo add to their woes the racial profiling of black customers did much to tarnish their image as an upscale luxury brand, as well as only carrying limited sizes for their women’s clothes and totally ignoring the fact that most women in the U.S. are a size 14 (67% in fact) or larger has not gained them any new fans or customers for that matter.

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The following statement was issued by Barneys New York:

“For more than 90 years, Barneys New York has been an iconic luxury specialty retailer, renowned for its edit, strong point of view, creativity and representation of the world’s best designers and brands,” said Daniella Vitale, Chief Executive Officer & President said via press release. “Like many in our industry, Barneys New York’s financial position has been dramatically impacted by the challenging retail environment and rent structures that are excessively high relative to market demand. In response to these obstacles, the Barneys New York Board and management team have taken decisive action by entering into a court-supervised process, which will provide the Company the necessary tools to conduct a sale process, review our current leases and optimize our operations.”

5399694_071619-wabc-ap-barneys-newyork-imgDue to the bankruptcy Barneys will close 15 of it’s 22 stores which will include the stores in Chicago, Las Vegas and Seattle, seven (of the nine) Barneys warehouse outlets, and about five concept shops. The struggling retailer has vowed to keep all five flagship stores in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Barneys.com and BarneysWarehouse.com will continue to operate and remain open. Barneys New York has filed for Chapter 11 before in 1996 amid a dispute with Japanese owner Isetan but the reorganization was not noticed by customers and this poses a huge risk to the future of this upscale clothing brand. We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Restaurant Review: Brunch at ZUSIK.

It’s a sunny Saturday early afternoon, and I find myself walking down 14th Street browsing vintage shops, and looking for a rare great find to add to my wardrobe. It’s summer, it’s the weekend and I’m out and about early killing some time before heading my way to a fashion press party to pose, network, and compare notes and info with my fellow members of the press.

As I went about my business to spend some leisure time with myself, people on the street kept stopping me asking me for directions, a cigarette, money, and one delightful (Made my day) women walked up to shake my hand and said: “I just want to say to you that you are a very handsome man”.  It seemed that I was not allowed to be left alone with my thoughts (or just day dream for that matter) and ideas!

So what does a gentleman do? He slips in the nearest empty Korean Restaurant on 14th street, takes a seat at the bar and order brunch of course!

The name of the restaurant was ZUSIK. The interior was simple upscale Asian décor. I was greeted by the women at the bar who was all smiles and eager to make me comfortable as I was the only patron in the place, (that’s why I ducked into this place, no people) as she hands me the brunch menu.

Zusik,_Korean_Restaurant,_West_Village,_NYC_2bFeeling safe at the bar in my solitude, I watched as the people walked by (and not into me) and settled to try their Korean version of “Eggs Benedict”.  The Name Zu-Sik translates to: Zu=(drink) and Sik=(food) yes, drink and food!

As I wait for my brunch, I sip on my water and return to my personal thoughts while I conduct some business on my cell phone, and then…the unthinkable happens. A man walks in off the street and heads straight towards me, as the Korean girl rushes from behind the bar to intercept him reaching me and says “you cannot disturb customers”, while the man says: “I can speak to whomever I chose to”, with me in the middle of them both, sitting on my stool. What does a gentleman do? I take command of the situation!

1Surprising the two of them, I turn to the girl (my server) and say: “He is correct, he can speak to whomever he likes”. Then I turn to him and said: “She too is correct, you are disturbing me, respect the lady, and state your business!” Or course he starts to go into a bunch of nonsense about this and that and asks for money. I cut him short and tell him his actions are rude and disrespectful and he needs to leave, with no delay. The guy apologizes, turns around and leaves (why did I come in here again for?) and the bar girl goes on to tell me a story about a similar incident the other day.

Needless to say after all this drama (Why!? Why!?) I have worked up an appetite and ready for my Korean Fusion Brunch. 

20190803_142818My Eggs Benedict arrives: poached, salmon, spinach, soy hollandaise sauce, steam bun. Served with a side salad, truffle fries and a choice of mimosa, rossini, sparkler, brewed coffee or tea. I had the mimosa with mine.

20190803_142809The presentation of my dish was subtle simplicity, neat and visually appealing.

I was very with pleased the smooth texture and asian fusion taste of the steamed bun in place of the traditional English Muffin. The truffle fries and side salad balanced out my meal in an unexpected and enjoyable way. The whole meal was $19.00 ($26.00 with tip).

Glad I ducked in.

Zusik is located at: 202 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

https://www.restaurantji.com/ny/new-york/zusik-/

 

Unique Blend Models Fashion Weekend Show.

On August 3rd I attended the Unique Blend Model Fashion Weekend Show (the last fashion show of the summer) which I was invited to cover for the Elegant Classy Gentleman Magazine as the press.  The show started at 5pm but was set to run till 11pm?

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I thought this to be quite odd for a Saturday weekend show to last for 8 hours a month before Fashion Week officially starts in September.20190815_150435(Photo Credit: Karl Lee)

So I decided to stay around just for the men’s designs that I thought was……well “unique”.  These are the men’s collections that I thought was inspiring.

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20190815_150708Stay tuned for next month for Fashion Week Coverage from the Elegant Classy Gentleman Magazine.

 

Credits:

Photos: Karl Lee

Millennials and Fashion: How they are shaping and influencing the industry.

Yes I know the millennial generation gets a very bad rep at a whole slew of things, but the one thing that is for certain is that they are exerting a huge influence on the fashion industry, which is shaping the way they present their brands and guiding new ones.

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Millennials are geared towards fashion, that is of good quality, durable, and timeless. (meaning the fashion their buying will not go out of style, and made of lasting quality). According to Business Insider in a recent report, they prefer more the “classic/heritage style’s”. Millennials heavy use of social media allows them to know what brands that embrace “social responsibility and environmental sustainability”.

imagesUBVXSI93According to the Business Insider’s report and study on this topic “found that 94% of Gen Y consumers want products that are functional and 93% favor high-quality purchases.” Long lasting clothing of very high quality is what they are spending money on rather than fast fashion such as Zara or H&M. Millennials still shop and buy “fast-fashion”, but at a much lower rate and more infrequently.

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Authenticity,Sustainability,Durability, the call for their shopping loyalty. However like much else in life, their moods, taste’s and needs can change very rapidly, so it’s important for fashion brands to be more inclusive with their millennial shoppers, as they are replacing magazine and poster ads with social media, and models with social media influencers.

imagesXYDEVO9OEngaging them with your “core” values as a brand will go a long way with customer loyalty with them, and many brands are “bending & shifting” the way that they market their clothing to Generation Z.  Fashion’s future is for them to shape and direct for better or for worse.

 

Restaurant Review: Dinner at San Marzano (Pasta Fresca). East Village.

While I was attending one of the last fashion shows in New York for the summer, and with fall fashion week 2019 to start in just a few short weeks I thought that there would be no surprises left for the summer. However after hanging out briefly with one of the designers after the show (Yes, I was heading to review another restaurant) he made me promise to stop by the “fashion show after party” when I was done.

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Quite a bit later when we arrive (myself and Jean Germain, my Logistical Executive) at Aloft in Harlem to mingle and engage in conversation with the models, designers, press members, and photographers. As we were about to leave a young women boldly walks up and hands me her business card, and say’s to me “I saw you at the fashion show, and thought that you are very handsome.” Give me a call and let’s go out on a date.”

The women explaining that she has to leave the party now, walked out the door after saying good night.  Gene, turning to me “saying that was brave of her” as we ourselves prepared to leave.  Impressed by her semi-professional approach, calm and confident up front honesty, I did call her about three days later, and we agreed to go out to dinner in her neighborhood (East Village) and I would review the restaurant while on our date (also I must pick the restaurant), which she was excited about.

Now I used to go out to eat in the East Village quite a bit before the Harlem restaurant boom, and it’s been awhile. While doing my “due diligence” and research I came across a very popular Italian place with a price point that makes one pause a bit. I had to find out why their brunch and dinner is so popular with NYU students (aside for their prices) and locals (and non-locals alike).

So my future restaurant review/date and I settled on Brunch at San Marzano Pasta Fresca.  But it was two days away and my curiosity got the better of me, so I stopped by this Italian pasta place for a drink at the bar to test the Chardonnay, and check out the vibe and service before the dinner rush. I was greeted lukewarmly by the women at the bar as she placed a menu before me, and I explained that I will just be having a drink, (their one and only Chardonnay on the drink menu). I got the feeling the staff was a bit hippy-ish  with a little self occupied posing. The woman behind the bar asked me if I would like anything else, and I explained that I would return in a couple of days for brunch to do a restaurant review (I felt her mood change instantly) and paid my bill and departed.

20190730_013905Now anything can happen in two days, and so it did, due to prior commitments, errands, and mercury retrograde our Italian brunch date had to be pushed back to a dinner date, (which is fine with me) but I did so much wanted to try the brunch.

When I returned to San Marzano, I got there a little earlier than my date, and asked for a table for two for dinner (they do not take reservations). The hostess seemed overly nice and told me that there will be about a twenty minute wait, which was fine as my date had not yet arrived. So I took my seat at the bar (the same seat as the last time I was there) and ordered a Chardonnay. After about ten minutes I receive a text from my date that she will be “arriving shortly”. So while I wait, sipping on this better than decent Chardonnay: Pomino, (which had floral and pear notes with a buttery finish). I decided to take in the atmosphere and feel the vibe of this strange romantic lighting in a rustic-modern décor Italian restaurant, (it certainly didn’t look like a Italian place).

20190730_013942My date finally arrives and greets me energetically, she walks up to me at the bar wearing the classic “little black dress” and furry fringed sandals in a hot pink I think, with her braids tied in a pony tail (it sounds awful I know, but she pulled it of so effortlessly). She sits by me at the bar and ordered a Chardonnay as well (off to a good start I’d say). After a little idle chit-chat we were told that our table was ready (and my role as fashion critic ends, and the role as food critic and date begins). So we had to clear our tap at the bar before sitting down at our table (they don’t transfer taps from the bar to tables) which was a little bit annoying, but nothing major.

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We ordered the Tegamino to share as an Appetizer: Breaded Eggplant, Mozzarella, Tomato Sause. We got two slaps of breaded eggplant wrapped in mozzarella cheese and tomato sause. It was more than enough to share between us and the taste was also very good. It was cooked just right.

20190730_215803(My dinner companion/Date was not only enjoying the food and wine)

After talking about politics, food, wine and people watching (people were watching us as well from the tables outside) I was finding myself having a wonderful time, my restaurant review/dinner companion/date was not only helpful, but also displayed the lady-like patience which I admire for allowing me to do a review on our date.

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Dinner is now served (moment of truth) Now at this Italian restaurant Pasta is the name of the game, as we got to choose our own pasta (and shapes) for our dishes. We both ordered the same pasta but for different dishes. I had the Shrimp Scampi: Garlic, Butter, white wine, lemon, and parsley, and she ordered the Butternut Squash & Sausage: Sage, basil, white wine reduction, and pecorino. The pasta we both chose was the Fusilli: corkscrew shaped pasta.

20190730_220514Now I’ve had some very outstanding shrimp scampi homemade and restaurant made, and this could compete with a few of them. The only thing was that the pasta was just a “wee bit” undercooked, and was a bit dry at the top, which all disappeared when I brought the butter sauce to the top and tasted it on the well cooked shrimp (all four of them) and it was a shrimp scampi that I enjoyed a bit much.

 

My date’s dish was also quite tasty, done with all of the right amounts of it’s few ingredients and she enjoyed my dish as well. Our waiter was very attentive, and she was on spot in refilling our water (served in mason jars) and refreshing our wine.

IMG_26621I can see now how they keep such a low price point (the place is always packed) on the food and still deliver a satisfying and tasty dinner for $10.00 (my dish was $12, but well worth it!). Appetizers and Salads our $8.00 while the Fresh Pasta is $10.00. The Panini is $9.00, while their Desserts are $7.00 and a glass of wine will run you from $6.00-$7.00 while a bottle does not go over $30.00. I was told that during brunch there is line down the block to eat here.

IMG_26661The ambience and dim lighting for dinner is definitely romantic and this place with it’s affordable dinner and drinks with decent quality wine and food. I recommend this spot to hang out with friends for drinks, and very nice and romantic for a dinner date. San Marzano’s is a good restaurant all around!

San Marzano Pasta Fresca is located on East 7th Street and Second Ave in the East Village.

20190730_220017Oh yeah, the date went quite well, so we headed to the Library of Distilled Spirits at the Hyatt for a night cap where we both agreed to go on a second date.

 

Harlem Twin Art: Duel Inspirations Art Show.

20190729_140315On a Saturday July 20th (a pivotal day for me) while on my way to a restaurant review in Harlem with Jean Germain (my logistical executive) as we had just finished covering a summer fashion show on the Hudson, and happened upon an event happening at the

 

20190729_144316Venue: (located at 2284 Adam Clayton Powell BLVD). Jean actually prompted us to go in and check out this Art Opening by these twin sister artists: Dual Inspirations.

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Harlem Twin Art: are Kristan and Kendal Harden.  Pretty, Intelligent, Black, and Beautiful, these twin sister artists have a statement to make, and they express them in their artistic works that goes from black-centric themes to Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Abstract pieces.

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Kendal is an educator and artist by trade, and studied at Spelman College, and Kristan studied fashion merchandising at F.I.T. and is concentrating on her love of creating an art business with her twin sister/partner. However both attended Frederick Douglass Academy which was just a few blocks away.

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After being served Hor D’oeuvres, Wine and Beer, myself and Jean inspected the various works of these twin beauties and was a bit more than impressed with the artistic talents they presented in their art.

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“I Love Unicorns” says Kristen.

20190729_140342Fantasy and surrealism is a recurring theme in the works of these twins.

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Two days later I got together with Kristen and Kendal at Ruby’s Vintage Harlem for a sit down and get to know these energetic and deep twins. We made ourselves comfortable at a table and began to chat over appetizers and drinks. Before I knew it we were talking like we knew each other longer than anyone would have guessed, like old friends.

20190723_204202We talked about so many things (even though I had a list of questions to ask them), and were so comfortable covering the most personal and private topics. I finally got around to asking the pre-set questions, and for some reason felt like they answered all the questions way before I got to the list. These sister artists are so philosophically, spiritually, and humanly deep. And they also posses a charm and modesty that most women lack on their best days.

20190724_112343To view or purchase more of their works.

Visit their website: www.harlemtwinartllc.com or check them out on Instagram:  harlem.twin.art