The last time I'd been in Steve & Barry's it was to buy college t-shirts, two for 10 bucks. On Thursday, I was there (under the guise of being a fashion writer -- read all about it in the Pioneer Press) for the launch of Bitten by Sarah Jessica Parker. It's Steve & Barry's attempt to become a full-service lifestyle brand with clothes and accessories for men, women and children. The store itself struck me as a poor man's Old Navy. Same warehouse design; less energy and trend. The clothes were pretty blah -- however, I'd go back to grab some cheap swim trunks for my husband, or a $5 polo for my kid. And the interpretations of Ugg boots and Puma sneakers for $14.98 were very convincing.
Still, people keep asking me why a fashion icon like SJP would choose Steve & Barry's. Because H&M is busy with Madonna, Kohl's has got Vera Wang and Target prefers fashion designers to movie stars. Really, SJP says it's because she's all about making fashion accessible to everyone. Those who showed up for the launch, however, found the line to be a bit short on fashion. Bitten is basic. If that's what you're looking for, you'll find some decent fitted tees for $7.98. The $12.98 hoodie SJP raved about on Oprah fit me well (did you really think I was going to get out of there without shopping?), but you can see how they keep prices low: the zipper is junk. I didn't try the $14.98 skinny jeans that have also gotten a lot of hype. The women I saw trying them on liked them, but complained that they ran small. In fact, plus size shoppers were probably most disappointed by the collection, which has boasted sizes up to 22. "This XXL is nothing close to a 22," one woman told me. Nevertheless, she - like most shoppers I talked to -- left with at least a few pieces. I bought four t-shirts and that hoodie (hazard of the trade) -- all for $46. Can't complain about that!