Saying Goodbye to Century 21

Saying Goodbye to Century 21

The style business is in a state of emergency. This has been made clear not solely by the mounting bankruptcies of big-name retailers, but in addition by the closure of beloved small companies. These are outlets that received’t bounce again.


There are 13 Century 21 places, however to the shop’s discount-stalking devotees, there’s nothing just like the Decrease Manhattan flagship.

Now sprawled throughout six buildings, its fame as a purchasing mecca is sort of legendary, inspiring folks tales of staggering designer offers and chaos within the communal becoming rooms. At the moment these becoming rooms have doorways, and the crowds have dwindled as extra branches opened and the web launched a brand new type of cut price looking. However that aura of finances bedlam by no means absolutely lifted.

Quickly it is going to. Final week, the corporate introduced it was submitting for chapter because of the financial devastation of the coronavirus, which has hit department shops significantly exhausting. All Century 21 shops, that are in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Dawn, Fla., will shut.

However the largest loss shall be felt within the monetary district of Manhattan. The cousins Al and Samuel Gindi, referred to as “Sonny,” opened Century 21 there in 1961. Throughout the road from the World Commerce Heart, it grew to become a image of restoration within the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist assault.

Extra lately, the corporate made strikes to draw a youthful clientele with the boutique offshoot Subsequent Century. Telfar Clemens gave a celebration there in 2018.

Within the wake of the chapter information, vogue mourned: “Boo hoo,” mentioned Patricia Area, fairly sincerely, on Monday. Ms. Area, the costume designer and stylist finest identified for outfitting “Intercourse and the Metropolis,” is a longtime Century 21 shopper. “All my mates are texting me about it,” she mentioned.

She normally goes to Century 21 within the morning, squeezing in just a few hours of purchasing earlier than the plenty descend. (Her most memorable latest rating: a pair of printed denims from Versace.) For her, purchasing at Century — she drops the “21” — has at all times been extra about discovery than offers. The shop’s inventory contains showroom samples that designers by no means put into manufacturing.

“It’s like seeing a line that nobody else has seen earlier than,” Ms. Area mentioned.

Typically her characters store there, too. In a single “Intercourse and the Metropolis” episode, Carrie Bradshaw stops by Century 21 whereas on a break from jury responsibility. She has already discovered a Dolce & Gabbana kimono and continues to be digging by means of the racks when she has considered one of her voice-over epiphanies: “With an arm filled with {discount} clothes, I noticed I may now not {discount} my emotions.”

When information broke of the chapter, there have been a variety of emotions to go round. Writers at Vogue and The Minimize eulogized the shop that made inaccessibly priced labels like Moschino and Gucci accessible to them as younger buyers.

“After I was in highschool, the style finds at Century 21 had been accessible and eye-opening,” Zac Posen, the designer and Brooks Brother inventive director, wrote in an e mail. “Designers like Gaultier, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Martin Margiela, Josephus Thimister, Tom Ford’s early Gucci collections (the crimson velvet swimsuit!) Romeo Gigli, Olivier Theyskens — these had been the issues that fueled my love of vogue.”

Buying at Century 21 was by no means straightforward; stock would fall into disarray on busy days, the aisles overrun by vacationers. A $900 costume (initially $1,500) would fall off its hanger to the ground. Footwear can be tried on and put again within the improper containers.

However usually, folks went there to buy large life moments — weddings, graduations, job interviews — which made the scrappy expertise extra sentimental in hindsight. (This reporter nonetheless cherishes a James Perse cardigan and pair of Calvin Klein assortment sandals, purchased at Century 21 and worn on the primary day of a brand new job in the summertime of 2011.)

Then once more, it was additionally only a good place to get low-cost socks.

“The place am I going to go to exchange Century?” Ms. Area mentioned. “Woodbury Commons?”

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