*The New York Daily News covered the controversial launch of Jay Z’s collection at Barney’s, reporting of “more gawkers than shoppers” showing up Wednesday, of disappointed fans and of folks who downplay the store’s shop & frisk scandal.
Per the Daily News…
A couple who drove up from Philadelphia for the debut left the Madison Ave. store empty-handed and underwhelmed.
“I was a little disappointed,” said Salie Schimmer, 52, a personal trainer. “We walked in and we were like ‘Wow, this is it?’ ”
Schimmer, who described herself as the “oldest hip-hop fan in Philadelphia,” is a huge Jay Z aficionado, part of the reason she made the two-hour drive from the City of Brotherly Love. But after seeing the lackluster response from shoppers and the prices — ranging from $70 for the cheapest T-shirt to $58,000 for an alligator-skin coat — Schimmer wasn’t optimistic about Jay Z’s sales.
“I thought it would be more exciting,” she said.
Schimmer, who is white, said she wasn’t affected by recent allegations from two black New Yorkers that they were racially profiled at the store.
Trayon Christian, 19 and Kayla Phillips, 21, have both filed notices of claim declaring their intent to sue. Christian claimed he was stopped outside Barneys April 29 after buying a $349 Ferragamo belt. He said undercover NYPD detectives wrongly accused him of debit card fraud. Phillips said she was stopped by undercover NYPD officers three blocks from the store Feb. 28 after buying a $2,500 Céline handbag and accused her of debit card fraud.
After the Daily News first reported their stories, Jay Z faced pressure from fans and civil rights groups to drop his alliance with the upscale store. The ruckus seemed to have tamped down the launch of his clothing line, Schimmer said.
“I think some people are going to stay away, it will turn some people off,” she said.
NYU student Andrew Davey, 21, wasn’t one of them. He was among the few actually seen buying items in the small, black gallery on the third floor that housed Jay Z’s collection.
He plunked down nearly $3,000 for his three items, including a white-and-black itch-free ski mask that cost $695 (see above photo). He also got a T-shirt for $70 and a leather varsity jacket for $2,000, he said.
“I liked the style … when you see it, you know it’s Jay Z,” he said.
Davey, a regular customer at the ultra-luxury store, said the “shop-and-frisk” scandal didn’t taint his view of Barneys.
“I saw it on the news but I felt like I doubt they would stop me,” said Davey, who is black. He said he blames the NYPD and not Jay Z. “I don’t know how much he can do about it,” Davey said. “Plus, he came out and said he would meet with them,” he added, referring to the performer’s latest public promise to head a council on racial profiling and give 100% of the sale’s proceeds to his foundation, which helps disadvantaged students pay for college. But even for a good cause, the hefty prices put the goods beyond the reach of most New Yorkers.
“It’s expensive. The T-shirts are like $1,000,” said one young woman who declined to give her name. She perused for 10 minutes but left without buying anything.
Barneys CEO Mark Lee also showed up Wednesday morning to get a personal tour of the “New York Holiday” collection. Lee, who didn’t show at a City Council hearing probing racial profiling at stores later in the morning, milled around the darkened gallery. He asked employees if there was a lot of interest in the collection before he left around 10 a.m.
A few hours later, security guards were overheard talking about the lack of foot traffic.
“It’s been trickle, trickle, trickle” all day, one of them said to the other.