Lured into H&M by some of my fashion-conscious co-workers’ great finds, I attempted to go foraging on my own. My first attempt was the Fifth Avenue store at 51st Street, which had a line out the door because spokesmodel Heidi Klum was making a personal appearance. Not surprisingly, it was packed during lunch time, and a pass through the store was nothing short of a sensory assault. The lights were exceedingly bright, racks were stuffed with clothes and hard to rifle through, the lines for the fitting rooms and the cashier were a mile long and the music (Red Hot Chili Peppers) was blaring. After a couple of loops, nothing caught my eye to buy, so I literally ran for the door.
After recuperating, I hit the H&M in SoHo several days later. It was a bit more palatable than the Fifth Avenue store because it was a Saturday morning and shoppers had only just started to trickle in. Lesser crowds made for easier shopping, as I sifted through equally overstuffed racks of linen tunics, cargo everything, embroidered dresses and tops, “club kid” styles, prairie dresses, ethnic pieces, athletic leisurewear, an arrayof Eighties-style knits from the “Flashdance” oeuvre and printed tops. I spotted a beautiful nude-colored, drapey, Grecian-inspired top made of Modal, a fine knit, and a matching sleeveless top with twisted straps, which got filed away as future purchases.
Despite these finds — and plenty more to hunt through — H&M is something best taken in small doses, so I stopped looking and resolved to return in another few days. Indeed, a few days later I popped into the SoHo store to pick up the two tops. Total cost: $28 even.
Determined to wade through all the merchandise at H&M, I ventured into its store on 34th Street. It was raining, so that kept the usual crowds out of the store. After a quick pass of the first floor, my arms were filled with a bunch of really cute things. It’s still unclear why the clothes seemed so much more appealing than they did a mere week before, but perhaps shopping at H&M takes some getting used to, or it’s that one’s eye adjusts to the massive amount as well as thevariety of the clothes.Thankfully, there was no line at the fitting rooms on this day and there was no limit on garments in the dressing rooms. If I had had to put anything down, I never would have been able to find it again.
The selections included everything from floral sundresses to cargo skirts to solid and printed knit tops. The sundresses, cargo skirts and a silk dress cut on the bias didn’t work at all (bad fit). However, the knit shirts not only looked great on and had beautiful floral prints, but also the material felt really fine and, dare I say it, almost as good as a Rick Owens knit.
The huge mound of clothes averaged a mere $15 per item — and I tucked it under my arm to explore the second floor. Proceeding upstairs, I became uncomfortable, hot, overburdened and the racks were overflowing with even more merchandise. It was impossible to quickly identify a particular style in solid black as shoppers are met with racks of ebony apparel. Yet in the sea of clothes I did manage to ferret out a lightweight black parka à la Marc by Marc Jacobs and a black knit V-neck blouse.
This trip proved more fruitful, shopping-wise. The cashier line took about 10 minutes and the grand total was $123 for eight items — a printed tunic dress, a parka, a black tank top, a black V-neck knit, a gray, drapey T-shirt with diamanté sprinkled on it, a printed brown tank, a floral blouson tank and a white and gray flowered top.
The styles throughout the store varied widely. There were some extremely fashion-forward, runway-inspired looks that they pulled off beautifully like a satin cargo skirt, embroidered, Asian-inspired jackets and zippered jumpsuits. They also referenced styles from lines like Marc by Marc Jacobs with printed tops and military jackets. Other looks that didn’t work as well included their kimono jackets, chinoiserie knickers and crocheted tops that looked cheap.
Their fabrics ran the gamut from really sumptuous to others which felt and looked rather chintzy. Also, the care instructions seemed curious — like washing rayon in warm water. A friend told me she’d shrunk several of her H&M purchases by following its washing instructions. But how much can you complain when everything is so cheap? Interestingly, after looking at so many low prices, one becomes conditioned to expect them. About an hour in, even $29 started to seem expensive.In the hunt for smart designer knockoffs and just plain good clothes, I also browsed through Zara. There were none of the freaked-out feelings like at H&M. Instead, its Lexington Avenue store made one feel literally giddy at its fashion possibilities. Zara has almost cornered the market in designer knockoff know-how. There were bouclé jackets reminiscent of this season’s Marc Jacobs collection, swirly polkadot skirts, utility pants and silk chiffon blouses. The clothes were very fashion forward, yet work appropriate, and had either a very romantic feel or a harder, more utilitarian bent.
I twirled around the store scooping up silk camisoles, flirty skirts, a bouclé mini, fitted striped shirts, clingy knit cardigans and loose, silk utility pants.
The tops seemed to run rather small, though. The overall feeling at Zara was a touch frantic as finding small sizes was difficult, especially in the Marc Jacobs knockoff jackets, and so women were furiously rifling through racks for sizes.
After another lap through the floor and a quick try-on of a pair of lime green stilettoes (neon is in for spring after all, but I decided they’d likely be wildly uncomfortable), I headed downstairs with a load of clothes. The dressing room attendants were very nice and helpful. Quarters were a bit cramped, so you could overhear scads of women complaining about their figures and loathing the way things fit.
Downstairs was less alluring, with clothes that were very casual and a bit sportier. But I did find a great-looking satin bomber and a pretty Asian-print wrap top. There were also denim pants that were making a big splash in the store as one diminutive shopper modeled them for her friend.
The store was filled with women from all age groups — literally from late teens to those well into their fifties. The quality and the detail on the clothes were great and subtle on many items. Some had unfortunate flaws like buckled zippers and seams, but largely, the styles were truly spot-on. Yet Zara’s secret is that while it does have great-looking stuff, it’s by no means inexpensive. My purchases in the end were a silk cami, an Asian wrap top, a silk bomber, a silk polkadot skirt, a white cotton skirt and a striped pink shirt. The bill came to $417, which was quite pricey compared with H&M.That said, I was pretty happy — even if I did return the white skirt at the Zara on 34th Street because the zipper not only buckled but created a tent-like effect in the back. A smaller size worked better — and, of course, while there, I did even more shopping, picking up a pair of white thong sandals which look like this season’s Prada for $55.
So, the two queens of fast-fashion: Crowded, hot and like a scavenger hunt — but worth every mere penny.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye