Fashion Ventures North

AS A WORD TRADITIONALIST, I didn’t initially understand the semi-phonetic name Uniqlo (unique…cheap…get it?). But I was grabbed right away by clothes from this Japanese chain, as readers of my blog can attest. Until now I’ve had to trek to Soho. Soon their big new store on Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street will open; there will be another on 34th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. And (bonus!) right now there are pop-up shops (with a more limited selection) in the Flatiron district (Fifth Avenue between 21st and 22nd), on Broadway and 62nd, and on Broadway between 87th and 88th (yes, they ought to pay me for the publicity.)
Fashion tragedy: This fall is the last season for +J, the collaboration between Uniqlo and German design master Jil Sander; the collection, sadly, will not be available at the pop-ups, so down to Soho I will go to join the queue (September 7 is said to be the launch).
Meanwhile, attracted by the snowflakes and vivid parkas in the window of the pop-up in the West ’80s, people were buzzing in and out. At the moment the stock consists mostly of plaid shirts, feather-light puffer jackets, some of Uniqlo’s patented cold-weather underlayers, and jeans. After a few minutes in their extremely basic try-on room, I scored a skinny, tapered black pair: Happily, they are not as low-rise as my Gaps (no belt needed) and fit me better in the derrière (no droop); they are also a good bit cheaper (about $50).
Did I really need more black jeans? Well, no. It was more of a neighborhood-boosting gesture. Come on, Upper West Side. Let’s show Uniqlo that it’s not just NYU kids and hip downtowners who love their clothes, and their prices.
Also moving in: Babette, a San Francisco-based line whose store used to be in Soho. Now they’re at 353 Columbus Avenue (between 76th and 77th). Trademarks include tiny snappers and wonderful easy-care yet luxurious fabrics, beautifully textured, often with fine pleats or planned “wrinkles,” very Fortuny-esque (, though her clothes don’t look that great in photos). Many of my best and most frequently worn jackets, blouses, and dresses are from Babette. Unless you hit a sale, though, these are not bargains.