August 18, 2006

fashion’s black hole.


there’s a faction of fashion where women aren’t teenagers, but also aren’t ready to dress like their mothers. retailers have recently started to hone in on this target, and some new stores are starting to pop up.

madewell is j.crew’s entry, and its first store opens this week in dallas, with another to follow in l.a. the majority of the offerings are under $100, and pieces include classics like denim, leather jackets, wool blazers, chinos and t-shirts. they will also be offering exclusive sneakers from springcourt and jewelry from philip crangi’s giles & brother line. a website,, will launch soon with online shopping. the madewell name was taken from the former new bedford, ma workwear company founded in 1937.

abercrombie & fitch opened ruehl in tampa in 2004, and has started expanding out west, with a store is opening in san francisco next month. ruehl is aimed at women and men ages 22 to 30. the merchandise is priced 22 percent higher than abercrombie, and includes denim, sportswear, accessories, fragrance, and intimate apparel. ruehl’s website only features store locations, but there’s been talk of offering shopping by christmas 06.

martin + osa, from american eagle, opens its first store in tysons corner, va, next month, with others soon to follow in san francisco, dallas, l.a., and chicago. the concept, targeting 25- to 40-year-olds, focuses on denim and sportswear, and the price points are generally competitive with banana republic and j.crew. no images have been released of the collection, but the woman behind it is michele donnan martin, who was responsible for the launch of abercrombie & fitch. the name comes from martin and osa johnson, a couple from Kansas who wrote books, lectured and made films about their travels through africa and the pacific islands.

i’ll have more reports on the san francisco outposts of martin + osa and ruehl when they open here in september…