Times on Barneys Co-op: “Lock ‘n’ Load”

Cintra Wilson, in her “Critical Shopper” piece in tomorrow’s Times about the new Barneys Co-op on Atlantic Avenue, has this to say:

New York Times: Something was rubbing me the wrong way, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then I put my finger on a prewadded NSF shirt, a garment affecting all the “realness” of a Vietnam veteran camouflage jacket, replete with a living-under-a-freeway patina ($195). On the next rack, there was another retro-camouflage jungle-jacket (Rag & Bone, $475). Among the handbags was a brass-studded Desert Storm sand-tone canvas field pack ($295). A fur-lined sleeveless Army parka in olive drab was $2,300.

Clothing is a language, and the Brooklyn Barneys seemed to have one sartorial message being recited like a mantra on virtually every rack: lock ’n’ load.

She sums it up thus:

It’s haute Salvation Army à la Salvador Dalí and the wacky sensibilities that brought urinals into the art gallery. Brooklyn’s bourgeoisie may safely let its beard mat into felt and start shouting at passing cars: It knows where to shop to look sexily impoverished.

She does have some nice words for the staff, whom she writes are “affable”, and resemble “a skateboard team composed of the cast of ‘Glee’.” She also nearly echoes BHB reader my2cents’ description of the target market by describing the women’s fashions as ” irresistible to the well-heeled young yoga-mom.”

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  • Jorale-man

    I don’t think I’ll ever understand the business of fashion – or fashion writing.

  • Alanna

    Ha “Jorale-mon”, what you are stating is my “job” and I still don’t get it. ;P

    Check the runways for Fashion Week of Feb 2010. These “utilitarian/army” looks were all over the place … have just trickled down to the diffusion/contemporary lines – a la’ what is sold at Barney’s Co-op. Skinny army pants, silk olive/drab green blouses with epaulets, military inspired jackets, etc. :)

  • Jorale-man

    I mean that as an expression of my own ignorance. :) I’m sure there’s a lot of artistry and understanding of market behavior to work in the fashion business.

    Growing up in the 80s, the people who wore camouflage were usually either rednecks or misfits/druggies. Now I gather it’s being worn in tongue-in-cheek irony – and sold for several hundred dollars more.

  • william

    In ’96 I had a gig as an ad production manager at Saks Fifth Avenue. To sell $3,000 Brioni suits, a creative team dressed a young party-boy with an unshaven face, and bed-head-hair in a fabulous suit. He looked confident and self-assured. The ad ran in the NY Times Sunday Magazine.

    The idea was that if you wear a $3,000 Brioni suit, you will look great – even if you just fell out of bed.

    Who knew it would start the messy-hair fashion tread that we are still stuck with. Go figure.

  • nabeguy

    Sure, William if you fall out of bed with a sugar daddy who buys you the suit.

  • william

    The Brioni model looked extremely rich, entitled and empowered, not like a tramp. The fashion herd just followed his strong attitude. Fashion is about attitude with supreme confidence. Some lead, others follow. Some people have no sense of identity, and it shows in what they wear or how they look. A $3,000 suit gives you a lot of self-confidence, even if you are unkempt.

    Most people are insecure, and sometimes they follow silliness in their appearance for acceptance in their chosen flock. The search for identity is what drives the fashion industry. You “are” what you “appear” to be to at the time. Fashion always changes, and some people become slaves to it. Attitude. Confidence. Expression of self. Self worth.

  • Henry

    I admit that I do not understand the look. What a great place America is where today you can sell things as ‘fashion’ costing 100s or 1000s of dollars that used to be able to be bought in the old style “Army/Navy’ stores for a few dollars.

  • ujh

    I’ve never been inside Barney’s in Manhattan and was not familiar with the prevailing price structure. Consequently, I assumed the name of the new Barney’s on Atlantic meant a “bargain-basement” version of the Manhattan store. The “cheapest” bag I picked up cost $458, the second more than $600, the third close to $900. I did try on a superbly sewn Harris Tweed jacket with removable lamb leather sleeves – stylish yet muted and suitable for this elder past retirement age. It cost “only” $920, but luckily the fit left something to be desired, and I was saved from emptying my wallet.