Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bowery Style

After 150 years of unremitting squalor with bursts of wild creativity, and about 5 minutes of unrestrained excess and glamor, the Bowery "style" is now priced to sell and spreading out across the country. Here's how it happened.

In November 2007, Hamptons boutique Blue & Cream moved to the Bowery and soon debuted the Bowery Hoodie for $140:

In April 2008, John Varvatos moved into the former CBGB. He sells the Bowery Boot for $698, Bowery Sunglasses for $375, and Bowery Fit jeans for $198.

In February 2010, J. Crew unveiled the Bowery Pant for a relative pittance at $98:

photo: EV Grieve

In July 2010, Rag & Bone moved to Houston--it's not even on Bowery, just slightly off--but they still manage to sell the Bowery cargo pant for $240:

So far, Bowery-branded clothing has been putting up the big numbers, hauling in some major cash. But now, in a grand example of trickle-down fashion trends, Old Navy (also not on Bowery) has started selling the Bowery Bombers sweatshirt for $19.50:

What are the Bowery Bombers? Were they really established in 1948? And what is the meaning of the number 32? The answers are: Nonexistent, No, and Nothing. But I sort of like the Old Navy shirt, as it baldly and unpretentiously reveals the meaninglessness of all the luxury-level Bowery-branded clothing items that preceded it.

In only 4 years, the fashion industry has managed to do its part in changing the meaning of the Bowery, a meaning that held strong in the country's consciousness for a century and a half. Now, in shopping malls, outlet complexes, and "retail-tainment" centers all across the country, from Orlando, Florida, to Wenatchee, Washington, "The Bowery" will mean something very different to countless bargain shoppers and back-to-schoolers.

What will it mean? Only time will tell. But when the tour buses begin disgorging folks in search of $5 "My Mom Visited The Bowery and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt" t-shirts, well, you'll know how it all came to be.


EV Grieve said...

Go Bombers! Woo!

Anonymous said...

The Bowery Bombers?
Hmmm, wuznt it them mentally ill homeless men that would defecate off the roofs or out the windows of their hotels, onto pedestrians below?

Rob said...

Makes you wanna puke, doesn't it?
CBGB is gone, the former mall rat "hipsters" move in, and now, even worse, it's the latest trendy "upscale" neighborhood with the plastic New Yorkers with their Yorkies and Beemers. UGH......

Lisa said...

I know things were already way changed by the time I left in 2005, but when I come back I don't recognize my surroundings in the East Village. I'm certain I would not recognize the Bowery. Ugh.

So, what did they do with the layers of flyers that were holding up the walls in CBs?

Anonymous said...

everything changes. thats a fact. ask anyone 90 yrs old or 75 yrs old. they've seen it come & go, many times over. its the speed we are not used too. i am not that old but i remember when 3rd ave midtown all the way uptown were small buildings. now i can feel choked while on the bus! also 3rd ave & the 50s were small antique shops. then alexanders dept store was built in 1960. that changed 3rd forever. then the fast food (to accomodate the discount customer). then the private homes were chopped up to make studio apts. then the high rises. 6 ave & 3rd ave were the first to go. about the bowery: if some one can sell a hoodie for $150. usd, more power to them. ANYTHING can be marketed. now bowery is a high end shopping mall.

Anonymous said...

No doubt, celebrities will start naming their offspring Bowery. Bet you $10. - BN

lauren said...

i am anon 3:04. i got back to this post & re read the bowery fashions. i predict in a few years, this area will be a circus w/chain stores. eventually going very middle mainstream, then down ward. i dont know why, i just see it that way. w/all the hotels & tacky sweatshirts its bound to be the first places to downscale when things change. i predict another west 34th street. or at the best an 8th street. guess "shopping tourism" is new york's new industry.