Good morning, Monday. The weariness. It's a lot. I'm so hoping we can get back to sanity soonish. It's tough out there for a human. I'm so grateful to have what I have but jeez- what a crazy world we live in, not to mention a crazy country.
And amidst this backdrop of chaos and mayhem and COVID came the news that Brooklyn retail icon Bird was closing. For those unfamiliar, Bird and its owner, Jen Mankins was instrumental in creating the whole "Brooklyn look" that became not only a local phenomenon, but an export around the country, and arguably, the world.
I have always thought about what my mom would think when walking around my Cobble HIll/Carroll Gardens neighborhood. As a woman who has always been stylish, I'm not sure she would understand the BK vibe. Here women look like hippies, commune members, or some version of sculptress. The BK look is epitomized by the following items, and Bird sold them all:
A clog or clog boot (No. 6 is preferred)
A generously cut sackish dress (brands like Rachel Comey, Black Crane, and Suno made this famous)
Chunky knits of all kinds (Lauren Manoogian comes tor mind)
Carpenter pants and wool socks (Jesse Kamm is the icon here when it comes to pants)
My mother would probably think these women look vaguely unkempt. Not put together. Disheveled. But that's part of the look. Because though the women in this neighborhood skip heavy makeup and wear their tresses in top knots, their skincare game is on point (Bader products, Vintners Daughter, all bought at local beauty icon Shen Beauty) and their highlights probably cost more than a monthly car payment.
I remember when I first moved back to Brooklyn in 2011, I loved the vibe and embraced it wholeheartedly, even though dressing in this laissez-faire manner doesn't come cheap. Though I am not a mom (which makes me an anomaly in this neighborhood), I did fall in love with the aesthetic, and though I never really went full Brooklyn look, I incorporated parts of the aesthetic into my everyday attire. For me, the whole look can make me look like I live in the shtetl, so I tend to glam it up slightly.
Shtetls aside, I spent a lot of my hard-earned money at Bird. There was my Black Crane phase. Flannel flavored jumpsuits. Voluminous poet dresses. Elastic waist pants I wore on every flight I took for a long time. Or the Isabel Marant and Ulla Johnson tunics and dresses I'd rock all summer long in an homage to my boho comeuppance.
Then a favorite item of mine- a Rachel Comey faux fur leopard coat. Only one left in my size the day after Christmas and massively on sale (thank goodness). I live for this coat still and always am so excited to wear it. And I also loved when they did their own dress line under the Bird name- I bought an adorable printed mini dress with a mock neck and short sleeves that is simply the cutest dress of all time. Or the way I'd drool over all the Dries Van Noten pieces I craved and sometimes dreamt about.
When I read the news on Instagram this weekend about the store closing, I felt so sad. A real bonafide part of Brooklyn was leaving, and could not survive the current climate or inevitable fallout from the pandemic. I do think the legacy of Bird (they had four stores in Brooklyn at one time) will live on. But I'll miss shopping there and so will many stylish women in the neighborhood. This store was not for everyone- the clothes could be tricky to wear, not to mention expensive. But I love the risks they took to bring a new aesthetic to the city and the world. And most importantly, a feminist approach to dress that showed us all that feeling sexy was more than just showing some skin. Feeling sexy in your clothes was all about confidence and a cool cut or silhouette. I give Jen Mankins so much credit for redefining how we all want to dress, and making Brooklyn style cool. She was instrumental in that and the clog booted hoards in my 'hood will surely be mourning this loss. It's true there is not a default Brooklyn look, but Bird created an archetype that became an icon.
And that's what's up this Brooklyn forever kind of Monday in the 718. RIP to an icon. You will be missed. XO