Everything about the Japanese label Comme des Garçons’ new store on West 17th Street is adorable — until you look at the prices. The first freestanding store in the United States wholly devoted to the brand’s “discount” line, Pocket, the store is tiny, speckled with polka-dots, and feels like a place where you buy souvenirs for people who literally have all that is great in the world and are now in need of the mediocre.
Don’t get me wrong; a lot of the stuff is totally fine and, in some cases, even worth the money. The store carries a range of accessories and beauty products, like candles, perfumes and iPad cases. A shiny golden leather wallet for $235 was absolutely perfect for pretending you are a wolf of Wall Street, and low-top white sneakers with the brand’s signature heart logo (designed by the graphic artist Filip Pagowski) are a fairly reasonable $125. Rei Kawakubo, the head designer of the label, told WWD that the store is mainly for “pocket-sized items that you don’t have to think about too much and can buy on a whim.”
That’s fair enough for the accessories, but we’re not sure what “whim” would possess you to buy the clothes. An itchy wool cardigan is selling for a whopping $390 and a black polyester sweatshirt — worse quality than something from H&M–is $300. Sure, I’m all for casual chic, but there’s no need to spend this much on completely ordinary items unless you just have way too much money.
Despite my sticker-shock, I managed to hunt down two pieces to try on: a striped t-shirt with the heart for $156 and a pullover hoodie for $290. The staff is friendly and helpful, and they happily hunted down a larger size for me in the sweatshirt (no surprise, sizes are smaller in Japan) and cheerfully checked in to see if I needed help.
Their friendliness, however, did not compensate for the store’s draconian rules. When I went to try on the t-shirt, the sales lady politely asked if I was wearing any makeup. As much as I appreciated her suggestion that I woke up like this, I informed her that I was. At which point, she reached behind the counter and pulled out what seemed to be a black, satin pillow case. I thought I had won a prize, until she told me that I had to put the pillowcase over my head when I tried on the shirt so that I didn’t smear it.
Considering that shirt was in no way cheap, I thought she had a lot of chutzpah asking me this, but I gamely took the pillowcase in with me and stuck it over my head as I slithered into the shirt. Looking in the mirror, I got a much-unwanted glimpse of what I will look like if I am ever executed by hanging, and even worse, I realized that I was now suffering from one of my most-hated afflictions: hat hair. In August!
The shirt was nice, but I didn’t take it: my pockets aren’t deep enough to shop in this pocket store.