CANAL JEANS CREATES NEW SCENE FOR TEENS
Byline: Valerie Seckler
NEW YORK — “Army-Navy for hipsters” sums up the aesthetic of the Web site slated to be launched today by Canal Jeans, one of the fashion emporiums that sparked Manhattan’s downtown shopping revival in the Seventies.
The store — which built its young, trendy clientele south of 14th Street largely by word of mouth (and the black-and-white checkered, logoed shopping bags that challenged The Strand’s for ubiquity) — is angling to do the same in cyberspace, with one big difference. The new version of Canal Jeans’ prior, rudimentary information-driven Web site is planning to go live with e-commerce this year, in time for holiday selling.
Comfortable that its brand’s cachet can carry business beyond the metropolitan area, Canal Jeans is taking its grass-roots marketing message to cyberspace. “It’s all about reaching more customers than are inside our stores, including our customers overseas,” observed Zenaide Russack, creative director at Canal Jeans, in referring to the flagship on lower Broadway and the store’s second brick-and-mortar location, scheduled to open Thursday in Brooklyn’s Flatbush Junction section at 2236 Nostrand Avenue, near Brooklyn College.
“The whole Canal Jeans style starts from an anticorporation point of view,” Russack assured, even though the store encourages its otherwise rebellious customers to express that style within the free-market system called capitalism. Its fashion sensibility runs from Army-Navy and utility styles to retro, vintage and, of course, signature jeans, among other denimwear, under labels such as Levi’s, Triple Five Soul, Schott, Spiewak, Diesel, Polo Jeans Co., CK Calvin Klein Jeans, DKNY and Dickies.
Canal Jeans thinks the timing is right for a more ambitious Internet effort, Russack related, because “by now, our customers are computer-savvy, they’re an Internet generation. It’s part of their lifestyle; 27 years ago [when Canal Jeans first opened], it was not.”
A preview of the Web site provided for WWD Friday revealed an unconventional landing pad, marked by a typeface simulating handwriting (“This is where the world shops in New York City!”); an olive-drab, Army-inspired background, and the signature checkerboard Canal Jeans logo, this time on a taxicab yellow field. A brief, unannoying Flash introduction cleverly sets up the page by “drawing” various links to click on with what appears to be a piece of chalk — the way a city kid would mark up a sidewalk. Links include: Rock On, with information about the Brooklyn store; Get the 411, citing the history of Canal Jeans and listing some of its wares, and Style, where visitors are encouraged to “Defy Fashion Rules” — and to scroll through the store’s wide-ranging roster of brands.
When e-commerce is added to the site at canaljean.com, Russack expects to merchandise fashion according to lifestyle groups like contemporary collections, urban streetwear and the eclectic items long associated with the flagship.
While relying mostly on word of mouth to publicize the Web site’s relaunch, Canal Jeans will support the effort with a street campaign, handing out flyers in the city’s five boroughs, and an online marketing campaign, managed by NinjaWorks, a marketing consultant also in the DUMBO section.