Holiday Windows Are Unveiled But Midtown Feels So Lonely And Sad

It used to take me 2-3 days to cover NYC’s top retail windows. This year, it’ll take me 2-3 hours because there are fewer stores and for those that are left, windows are a lesser priority. On top of that, Midtown around 57th Street from Fifth Avenue to Lexington was virtually bereft of shoppers. I’ve never seen it like this.

Fortunately, downtown was hopping. The line at Glossier was 100-strong, Soho was jampacked and Supreme, as always, had a line running down Spring Street. And, btw, I discovered a fantastic new(ish) Japanese cosmetic brand that only does eyeliner and lip treatments but they have a fabulous store on Howard Street (writing about it for Monday). Blown away!

I’m also checking out Hudson Yards this Friday and have high hopes I will not be disappointed. Their inaugural Holiday Program titled Shine On will start at 8 am and run through the day into the night.

The highlight will be at 5 pm with the debut of artist Christopher Schardt’s Lyra, a series of star-shaped sculptures, each comprised of 12,000 individually controlled LED lights, creating a visual spectacle synchronized to a classical soundtrack evoking the holiday season. The special “Shine On” show will occur every evening at 5 PM, and the lights will undulate continuously throughout the day and night.

The installation was curated by Culture Corps, a creative consulting firm founded by Doreen Remen and Yvonne Force Villareal.

While at Hudson Yards, I’m also looking forward to checking out the Wells Fargo Lodge, located near the Vessel. I’m especially intrigued to see what the 360-degree photo booth and the holiday selfie cookies are about!

But back to the Holiday Windows

I started at Macy’s (high marks for interactivity) and everyone who stepped inside the store gasped at how beautiful it looked – hopefully, this will not turn out to be a last gasp for Macy’s.

Moving on to 57th Street, I loved the Vuitton store. Wrapping stores appears to be quite the thing nowadays. Dior was also wrapped – but not with a holidays’ theme.

Bergdorfs was a bit lackluster. Tiffany’s was wrapped in scaffolding along 57th Street – a total bust. Although the under-construction Tiffany Men’s Store looks like it will be amazing.

Finally, Bloomingdale’s. It had a robotic theme but the fashion and styling brought Russian fashions of the ’80s to mind. I don’t know why but I felt it strongly. Maybe too much politics lately.

Scroll down and follow me on my Saturday Holiday Window Reveal. You be the judge as to how this year stacks up to years past.
Macy’s – Herald Square, NYC

The Macy’s windows were fun and interactive. Not as spectacular or festive as in years past but more directly engaging for the consumer. And they loved them for that!

Strike a pose, grab the wheel and scratch willow’s nose were all huge hits
Onto 57th Street and the Vuitton Store Wrapped beautifully for the holidays
Bergdorf’s world appears to be a bit topsy turvy
Then on to Bloomingdales – which offered up the weirdest mishmash of themes.

Everything from traditional holiday songs (which John Legend performed on Friday at the unveiling) to robots and really peculiar space-fashions.

And finally, here’s what Midtown Around 57th Street looked like on Saturday at Midday – absolutely desolate
Tiffany’s under scaffolding
Bottom Line.

This does not augur well. And it will be devastating for NYC to have all those empty storefronts in this high rent area of Manhattan. That means less revenue for the city, fewer jobs, and forlorn sidewalks that make the city unappealing.

And please let’s stop talking about how if only the mom and pops were still there and if only the rent were lower. This is much more foundational than that.

We no longer want to shop or acquire in the same way as we did in the past. And that’s for a multitude of reasons from demographics to changing lifestyles to politics. The on-going debate around income inequality has also played a part in making shopping feel inappropriate and just not the thing to do. And, of course, shopping is not aligned with environmental causes.

It’s a big problem that won’t go away anytime soon. However, I have more faith in the business community solving the problem than I do in getting politicians involved, especially ones like Bill de Blasio who can’t even spend his way out of a paper bag.

I’ll be doing a whole series of posts around Holiday retail from now until the end of the year. Keeping tabs on which retailers are doing a great job, what shoppers are excited about, taking note of shopping bags seen on the streets and who they hint might be potential holiday winners. Hudson Yards up next.

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