Thursday, January 25, 2007

SFMOMA Store - San Francisco Airport

With the additions of the SFMOMA store and Sephora, shopping is improving considerably at the San Francisco Airport. The restaurants are improving too, but that's another blog.

The SFMOMA store has lots of cute toys, books and decorator items. It's a good place to spend your last US dollars or to buy last-minute gifts for arty people back home. Most of the things are designer-inspired & certainly beat a key chain or t-shirt grabbed on the way the the gate.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Spitalfields Market - Spitalfields

It seems that much literature mentioning Spitalfields focuses on poverty and deprivation. Children of the Ghetto,
Jack London's melodramatic The People of the Abyss and then there's The Satanic Verses. True, it has been the site of large cemeteries, starting with the Romans. True, the name came from some illiterate pronunciation of hospital. However, now the area has become so gentrified that it is no longer a haven for the poor, the disenfranchised and the artists. They've all moved to Hackney.

There is one place, though, where artists abound: Spitalfields market. Open every day except Saturday, it's the place to buy and sell handcrafted clothes, bags and bric-a-brac, as well as vintage housewares, books, records and general truclaments. Usually the artists, themselves are selling their wares so if you need another size or want something in a different colour, they are often willing to accommodate you. Last time I was at the market, I bought a necklace that was a bit to long for me, so the designer sized it on the spot.

Old Spitalfields Market
105a Commercial Streeet
Spitalfields, London E1 6BG

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monster Dolls are Absolutely Fabulous at Habitat -- Kensington

Adena was wrong, babies and Lacroix sometimes do go together. These dolls designed for Habitat are sold as toys for children, but this little monster would like one for herself. Like everything else at Habitat, they are quite expensive. That's all relative, though. Could you get anything else by Lacroix for £35?

26-40 Kensington High St
London, W8 4PF
020 7795 6055

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market -- Embarcadero

I love the Ferry Plaza Farmers' market. True, it does attract a bunch of tourists, pretentious "foodies" and yuppie gourmet wannabees, but who cares? Of course they're going to go where many chefs in the city pick up their produce.

The truth is, though, vendors are required to use sustainable farming methods, follow standards of animal treatment, pay their employees decent wages, and, of course, farm in an ecologically responsible manner. It's not all about what you put in your mouth. Then again, it is all about what you put in your mouth. Shoppers can buy something delicious, without the harmful chemicals, in a picturesque setting and still be socially responsible. If the prices are a bit decadent, at least shopping here is socially responsible decadence.

Buying eggs laid by happy chickens, beaks intact makes me almost able to stomach people like the woman I saw a month ago, prancing along with a large wicker basket, as if she was frolicking through the fields, gathering daisies in a Swiss meadow.

Ferry Building
At the base of Market Street
San Francisco

Friday, January 19, 2007

Off the Rack Bridal at BHS -- Oxford Street

When my sister was preparing for her wedding, I went bridal gown shopping with her. We hit several fancy wedding boutiques in San Francisco. At these boutiques, the bride-to-be, dressed in the appropriate bridal underpinnings, stood on a platform in a vast changing room while an attendant fetched and carried gowns and accessories, and helped my sister try them on. Mum and I sat in the chairs provided for the bridal party and other hangers-on, and watched our own private fashion show, mouths agape at the prices, which ran into the tens of thousands. I can see how anyone who ever had young-girl fantasies of being a princess could be sucked in to the faux couture of a beautifully made wedding gown, shown in a beautiful setting.

My fiscally responsible sis did not buy a gown at one of these boutiques. She ended up finding a very pretty dress in some off-price place in Santa Ana or Long Beach. It wasn't fru fru, layer cake, or overly shiny. She was a beautiful bride in a simple age-appropriate design that did not look bargain-basement.

Ten years later, on the way to indulging in one of my favorite breakfasts at British Home Stores, I walked past the bridal section. There was nothing like this in America when my sister was looking for a dress, rows and rows of bridal off the rack, including gowns, bridesmaids dresses, tiaras, the lot. I can't say they were nice, but they looked a lot better than the prom dresses at Sears. A bride-to-be on a budget can buy a whole ensemble, a dress, a veil and shoes for £200, now that's chavtastic.

252-258 Oxford Street
London , W1C 1DL

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

ApparelAmerican Apparel -- Haight Ashbury, NOHO & Lower East Side, Notting Hill

I don't know what appeals to me most about American Apparel, it's sweatshop-free policy, the quality and fit of the clothes, or its slightly salacious ad campaign, including the ads in Butt Magazine. They bring to mind the short-lived campaign by Calvin Klein years ago with Miss Moss saying "It's torture."

The long sleeved, long v necks are a staple to my wardrobe. I don't wear them the way the models wear them, as dresses. For me, they make nice long, slimfit shirts.

1615 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117

712 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

183 E. Houston St.
New York, NY 10002

Monday, January 15, 2007

Costco -- SOMA

Unlike the experience at most warehouse stores, shopping at Costo can be shopping for pleasure, if you can find a way to avoid the crowds. Amongst the usual fare of over sized packages of toilet paper, pork loin, and tires, treasures lurk: Veuve Clicqot by the caseload, iPod Nanos, the occasional nice piece of jewelry and a few heavily branded purses.

450 10th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

Teenage Row - Tanforan Mall

It is sheer genius to put the teenage stores together at Tanforan Mall. Of course, one could argue that the whole mall is teenage haven, but some shops, such as Hot Topic, Pacific Sun, Zumiez & Shoe Palace are especially alluring to teens and the mutton dressed as lamb brave enough to shop there without a young person in tow.

Tanforan Mall
San Bruno, CA 94066

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Picketers at Bristol Farms -- San Francisco Centre

The picketers are still at San Francisco Center, protesting Bristol Farms' no union policy. It doesn't seem to be deterring shoppers, though. Bristol Farms seemed as busy as ever. Why do people cross picket lines? Is it concious opposition to unions? apathy? the feeling that one small purchase won't make a difference? Do tell.

845 Market St - Suite 010
San Francisco, CA 94103
Westfield San Francisco Centre
Bart Level

Nan Kempner at the MET - Upper East Side

A Women who said she wanted to be buried naked so she could shop in Heaven certainly deserves to be mentioned as a patron of shopping. I wonder if this was a serious request, or just something said in jest? I suspect the latter, but that doesn't diminish her love of fashion, or of clothes.

The Costume Institute's exhibit, showcasing Ms. Kempner's extensive wardrobe in the basement of the MET, is a testament to what can be done with a credit card. It is said that she did not rotate her clothes out for the seasons, but liked to keep her gowns, riding habits and resort wear handy, along with the appropriate suits the lady who lunches needs. All I can say is she must have devoted quite a bit of prime Manhattan real estate to closet space. If you appreciate vintage designer wear and costume jewelry from the 70s and 80s, the exhibit is a must-see.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
Fifth Ave at 82nd Street
New York, NY 10028-0198

Monday, January 08, 2007

Macys - Union Square

I love the fact that the tree at Union Square is still up. The juxtaposition of the Christmas tree and the palm tree make a nice California contrast to the East Coast flagship. In fact, compared to the San Francisco Macy's, the 34th street store looks like a hot mess.

Union Square
San Francisco, CA 94102

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Five and Dime - Laurel Village

The Standard 5¢ & 10¢ is one of my favorite stores and one of the last of its kind in the city. Of course nothing costs a nickel or a dime, but shoppers can find almost anything, including cooking supplies, craft supplies, garage sale labels, toys, cards, stationary, school supplies and those strange hardware items needed for Victorian houses that are impossible to find at big box stores like Home Depot. There's a sign on the door saying "Be a local, shop local." I hope people do.

Laurel Village Shopping Center
3545 California Street

No Photos Allowed - Santa Rosa Plaza

I was panhandled at the Santa Rosa Plaza this weekend. Living close to the Haight, I'm used to being panhandled, but I was taken completely by surprise when it happened in such a suburban setting. This was no street urchin. The girl who asked me for money looked like a typical suburban teenager, with converse shoes, Levis, a hoodie & salon highlights. She looked clean and well-fed. I though she was asking for change for a dollar, so when she said "I just need to buy a hamburger," I was completely taken aback. What's that about? Have parents stopped teaching their children that it's rude to ask strangers for money?

This mall seems to attract a disproportionate amount of teenagers. Is it the only place for kids to go in Santa Rosa? The stores could certainly be a draw to this audience. The stores are pretty typical mid-level retail with a high emphasis on teenwear: Forever 21, Hot Topic, Torrid, Gap, Express, and a few blah staples: Bath & Bodyworks, Victoria's Secret and Lane Bryant. The anchor stores are a bit grotty: an old, unrefurbished Sears, a low-end Macy's and an OK Mervyns.

Mall security is fairly vigilant. I was told not to take any pictures for "copyright reasons." What's behind that weird rule? How does taking pictures of mall stores violate copyright? It's not like sneaking photos at a fashion show in Milan to copy in a back street sweatshop.

1071 Santa Rosa Plaza
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bloomingdales - Soho

Bloomingdales, Soho is the chic, skinny sister of the flagship on 59th. It has all the elements of the original, the checkerboard floors, the pink beauty bar, the diverse range of designer lables. The Soho Bloomies is streamlined, though, edited to reflect the neighborhood it's in.

504 Broadway
New York, NY 10012

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Bolex Anyone? -- Chinatown

If you've been wondering where the vendors of fake Rolexes disappeared to, They're alive & well, hawking their wares out of briefcases at Canal & Broadway. I am NOT advocating buying the wares of these shifty-looking characters, just making an observation.

Canal & Broadway
New York, NY

Monday, January 01, 2007

Arthur Avenue Retail Market - Arthur Avenue

rolling cigars
Italian delicacies

If you crave authenticity in a world of Pottery Barns and mall pastiche, go to Arthur avenue in the Bronx. One of the great gems is the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Fresh cheese, fresh bread, fresh veg, fresh meat (including rabbit) and fresh cigars can be bought at a good price. Apparently, Mayor LaGuardia opened the retail market in the 40's to get the pushcart vendors of the street, out of the elements. It's still going strong.

2344 Arthur Ave
New York, NY