Loyal customers of Putnam Rolling Ladder Company, Inc. might be disappointed to find that the location at 32 Howard Street has closed after decades of service. While we are sad to see a small local business go, we can’t say that we aren’t excited for what’s coming next to the location: iconic L.A.-based designer Rick Owens’s new store.


(Rick Owens)

(Rick Owens)

Owens first hinted at the Howard Street location’s opening late last year when a small logo for his brand appeared on the building’s front window. Since that time, there has been little word from the brand on the new store but the company has finally posted a few overexposed shots of the storefront that are in line with the designer’s achromatic, dramatic aesthetic, and while it’s hard to make out much of the store, it certainly looks exciting.


Owens’s brand has come a long way since the mid-90s, when he dealt his clothing exclusively through a single retailer. Today, he develops his avant-garde and dark vision season after season (each of which he gives a unique name — 2017’s first collection, for example, is designated “WALRUS”). His iconic sneakers, especially his older models, can fetch thousands of dollars on the secondhand market, and the shock value of his runway shows (you might remember his “human backpack” display from last year) keep him in the spotlight.


The Howard Street store will be Owens’s second long-term store in New York City — a shop already exists on Hudson Street and a temporary space for the cheaper DRKSHDW line opened and closed in 2013. This store is the designer’s first store in SoHo proper, however, and puts a very well-known designer in one of the most fashion-forward neighborhoods of New York City. It’s actually kind of shocking that Owens hasn’t physically broken into SoHo yet, but he does have a history of throwing curveballs and it’s uncertain what the new storefront will bring.


While the introduction of another famous brand name store might draw even more shoppers to SoHo, it’s becoming more off-putting that more brand names are infiltrating the area. Locals mock the stretch of Broadway that now sports countless mall-friendly brands without offering interesting or unique labels. In addition to the increased brand-name presence, the displacement of a small business might be offputting to some customers. The Rick Owens empire, though, is still on the rise, and though it might seem to some that the brand has reached the peak of its popularity, the future might hold even more for Rick Owens and his line of consistently shocking clothing.


Have you visited the Rick Owens store on Hudson Street? Let me know here or on Twitter @BillChangNY