Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ruehl -- Westfield San Francisco Center

If Rhuel is meant to attract the older, college graduate brothers and sisters of Abercrombie and Fitch customers, it has missed the mark.

Ruehl's storefront at the New San Francisco Center is deceiving. The exterior looks like a posh townhouse or a Saville Row suitier of years gone by, but when visitors step inside, the wood paneled hallway, heavy with a woody, spicy scent that's sold somewhere in the recesses of the store brings another venue to mind. With its muted lighting, Ruehl feels more like a gentleman's club, where none of the men smoke, and they all smell good, except for the muzak, a mashup of Donna Summer and St. Etienne, which leans more toward the Pleasuredome than a clothing store. Think of it as the Pleasuredome mixed with JCrew, except that JCrew clothes are better.

Granted, the merchandise at Ruehl is less body conscious than Abercrombie & Fitch, and there are no photos of half naked models, but where are the clothes for the young professional? I didn't expect to find staid mainstays for the junior executive, but I didn't expect what I saw, either: a series of dimly lit rooms filled with hoodies, branded t-shits and jeans. How many people past college age will buy shirts with Ruehl plastered across the front?

865 Market St. Suite 251
San Francisco, CA 94103View Map

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