Cult-classic NYC denim dealer Blue in Green has been serving the city for years from a modest and unique storefront just a short walk from Chinatown. The interior is decorated with well-dressed mannequins wearing animal masks (which are, quite frankly, a little off-putting when you visit for the first time) and, of course, walls of denim and shelves of clothing. The retailer carries specialty items, mostly Japanese, from beloved brands like Samurai, Kapital, and Pure Blue Japan. It’s one of the handful of havens where NYC denimheads can get their fix of jeans hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun.
When the owner of Blue in Green launched a storefront for a famous Japanese denim brand, The Real McCoy’s, I was eager to visit and to try on their very popular and classic fits. When I looked up the address, however, I was a bit confused; the owner had opened the new shop adjacent to the existing one.
I had no qualms with the placement, since the proximity just meant that I could visit both stores in the same day. The Real McCoy’s certainly lived up to expectations — the decorations were distinct from Blue in Green’s and in tune with the Real McCoy’s brand. Vintage neon signs and luxurious leather boots and jackets abounded, imparting a distinctly American vibe to the Japanese brand’s location. And, again, there was no shortage of incredible denim. I found the store to be a refreshing complement to the one a few steps away.
Now, just two years after The Real McCoy’s came to Manhattan, the shop has closed. As heartbroken as I am, I can’t say that I’m awfully surprised, and I believe that the store was doomed from the start given its location and the caliber of its inventory.
It’s worth noting that the merchandise these stores carry is far from cheap. The craftsmanship and history that go into each pair make them well worth the hefty price tag, but shelling out for a pair of really great Japanese denim feels like half fashion choice and half business decision — my pair of ONI 512XX denim from Blue in Green ran me nearly $300, which was approximately three months’ worth of lunch money saved up. Those jeans have lasted through a year of high school and two years of college, though, which should give you some idea of the quality of product that Blue in Green and The Real McCoy’s deal in.
With that in mind, it’s easy to understand how reluctant customers would be to make purchases at both stores. I’ve spent an almost unreasonably great amount of time in specialty denim stores, and I’ve very rarely seen customers purchase more than one item per visit. It’s just too expensive. Even though the two stores sold different merchandise, both attracted shoppers looking for denim and clothing of impeccable quality, and that fact pitted them against each other.
The store unfortunately had to compete with its next-door neighbor, and it’s very probable that Blue in Green’s owners simply drew too much foot traffic away from their newest venture. The store stocked some very impressive wares, and there are few places in New York where a customer can try on any Real McCoy’s clothing, but given the wide selection of different brands and fits at Blue in Green, the single-label approach of a flagship store was less appealing in the end than a whole host of different denim and an established reputation.
What’s your favorite shop for jeans? Comment here or on Twitter @BillChangNY