Archive for December, 2009

BKI MUSIC

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Considering our love for new (and old!) music we’ve launch BKI Music, a second blog dedicated entirely to that! We’re happy to launch it during our 2010 New Year Campaign with British indie-rock band Athlete. Last month they stopped by headquarters to take a few photos the day after a long music video shoot styled by our team for their new single “The Getaway.”

The US release for their album Black Swan is scheduled for February 2, 2010. During that time we’ll be offering free music downloads and giveaways so stay tuned!

BKI Music will be a great way for us to share what we’re listening to and why. Definitely check the site for the Month’s 50, The Five and What We Listen To.

Our free music streaming is powered by Lala so you have to sign up to hear, but don’t fret, it’s 100% free. Happy streaming.

PHILLY LOCATION COMING SOON!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

It’s not a rumor! BKI is opening in Philadelphia’s Center City this February!

We have many friends and family in and around Philadelphia and believe a store would be a fantastic opportunity for us to engage in new customers and a new community.

We’re very excited to open a location in a city with such rich, artistic tradition, from early painters to its contemporary art scene.

Brooklyn Industries in Philadelphia will be located on Walnut Street and will be a 1700 Square foot space. We’re building with as minimal impact on the environment as possible. Instead of gutting the space, we’re building the store around the concept of upcycling, much like our Grand Central Terminal location. All of the store’s fixtures are being made from shipping palettes that we recycle and the tables are thrift store finds that we’re piecing together to make new tables.

Want to see something specific in our Philly location? Let us know!

BROOKLYN INDUSTRIES PRESENTS: ATHLETE

Monday, December 21st, 2009

BKI is excited to finally go live with Brooklyn Industries New Year’s photo campaign. Athlete, the British indie rock band (of Deptford, London) graced us with their presence in November to endure a chilly photo shoot on the roof of our Brooklyn headquarters warehouse. Conveying a photo shoot (within a photo shoot), the “Picture Perfect”-themed campaign includes photos of our lovely female model, Puja, photographing the band members in BKI’s Winter-to-Resort collection. Click on “Photo Campaign with Athlete” on the right to see photos from this campaign.

BKI is working with Athlete as they gear up to make their stateside debut with new album – Black Swan – scheduled to release in America on February 2, 2010. We were able to rock out to the new album a bit sooner, however, at the band’s show at The Bowery Ballroom. Check the BKI Music blog often for more to come from Athlete and Brooklyn Industries. We have free music downloads, giveaways and more lined up for you in the New Year.

For now, take a sneak peek at the band’s first video off the album for its single, “The Getaway.” BKI stayed on set at the video shoot late into the night styling band members Joel Pott (lead vocals and guitar), Carey Willetts (bass), Stephen Roberts (drums), Tim Wanstall (keyboards), and female model, Mila. Enjoy!

BKI LISTENS TO: ATHLETE’S BLACK SWAN

Monday, December 21st, 2009

It’s one thing to be biased on an album that you’ve never heard before, but it’s quite another when you’ve done some collaborative work with the band and then proceed to review the band’s album.

There are two choices: the biased and the unbiased. My biased opinion would be, “OMG! Buy this album! It will change your life!” However, that wouldn’t be very journalistic of me (Simone here, customer relations coordinator, and resident music journalist). My unbiased opinion would be something a bit more articulate, but how unbiased can you be when reviewing anything artistic? I’ll say one thing and you’ll think another and vice versa, but I digress. An album doesn’t come along very often that pertains to every aspect of a person’s life. In fact, most albums tend to stick to one mood. They will make you feel love, hate, political, dancy, or even downright dirty. Athlete is completely different.

Listening to Black Swan is like watching a movie play out in front of your eyes. They keep a mix of eclectic sounds from acoustic guitar, a little electronic, and a dash of indie rock topped off with great lyrics and audience participation. As a whole, Black Swan is the soundtrack to a life of freedom and love. You can imagine yourself riding in the car on the freeway while the sun sets in the background. You can see the girl of your dreams coming back to you. That’s what this albums sounds like: a happy ending. Each song also individually gives you a sense that this is the final chapter; the one you’ve been reading the entire book to get to and the reason why you can’t proceed with the rest of your life without knowing what happens.

The incredibly well-produced “Black Swan Song” fills your heart with a warm liquid and a comforting sense that the end will never just be the end. However, “The Unknown” gets you out of your seat to celebrate everything that life is supposed to mean with upbeat tempos and light lyrics. Finally, “The Getaway” is a definite pop song that somehow penetrates the skull; it’s a song I find myself humming all day long. Okay, so I said I wouldn’t be biased, but it’s impossible when an album can make you so hopeful for something so imaginary – limitlessness, freedom, weightlessness. It’s almost like they were looking for all the hopeless romantics in the world and gave them the assurance that: even though this world isn’t so great right now, there’s always something good to look forward to. Although I can imagine very well the end of a great film while listening to, it is in no way the final chapter for Athlete.

Here’s their latest single, “The Getaway”

The Getaway (US Radio Mix) – A…

GREAT GIFT IDEA: NO SLEEP TILL ONESIE

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Everyone loves clothing in a size small, and by that we mean miniature sizes, like the type of clothing that fits babies and tots! Our latest (and cutest!) onesie online right now is the “No Sleep Till” onesie that we’re certain moms and moms-to-be will love. Referencing a popular song about Brooklyn, this little item rings true (since most moms with babies this size may not see much sleep until the baby has outgrown this particular item).

It’s available for babies 0 to 24 months and is super-soft 100% pima cotton. Small enough to fit in a stocking and affordable to gift, we suggest getting this onesie before it’s gone!

GREAT GIFT IDEA: ETERNITY SCARF

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

We’re always huge fans of clothing that make getting dressed in the morning easier. Naturally, this means our staff is excited about the Eternity Scarf which some may even dare to call a “snood”. With this scarf, there’s no readjusting to keep it wrapped around the neck when the winds blow. It’s designed to stay wrapped and what else could you want (besides the Fjord, of course) on a cold winter’s day.It’s a great add-on present for someone you’ve already purchased a gift for. In this case, we’re voting more is better and giving the Eternity Scarf a 10 out of 10, for warmth, practicality and functionality. Buy it. Give it. We promise you won’t regret it.

GREAT GIFT IDEA: H-BAG, ARGYLE

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Number two on our Procrastinator’s Gift Guide List is the H-Bag in Argyle. One of the reasons why we’re such big fans of this bag is the shape. It may look like a simple, single interior compartment bag, but alas!, it’s so much more. There are actually a total of three interiors in this bag – a front back and middle. There is so much room and tons of space to organize things ladies need to carry. In addition to all the interior zip and snap compartments, the front has pockets as well. There’s even a detachable change purse.

The H – Bag is a wonderful gift for women of all ages and could definitely be a great gift for teens who are starting to ditch their backpacks for handbags. Any vegans out there or animal friendly consumers? Our H – Bags are leather free. The exterior is 100% cotton and the interior has a cotton-base as well.

The Argyle design makes it easy to love and wear. It’s sophisticated and can be worn in many seasons and for many occasions. We’ve even heard of moms wearing this bag as an alternative to diaper bags. There’s that much room! Take it from us, this purchase is a must-have, a good gift and a timeless classic. Gift it to a lady you love.

SWORD-WIELDING PRINCESSES

Monday, December 14th, 2009

By Guest Blogger Joanna Smith Rakoff

A year or so ago, when I was pregnant with Pearl, I sat on the bench of a local playground with a pregnant friend, watching her daughter and Coleman race over a structure known in our neighborhood as “the jiggly bridge.” Neither my friend nor I had chosen to find out the sex of our babies and I, for some reason, asked if she and her husband would be glad to have a boy.

“Oh, God, no,” she replied. “Boys are a nightmare.”

“Really?” I said, an eye on my own boy, who, like all children, can certainly be a nightmare, but is usually a delight.

“Totally,” she said, and explained, at some length, that boys’ brains develop rather more slowly than girls, that boys tend to be less verbal than girls and, lacking the words to express their thoughts, they go crazy and have tantrums. “Girls,” she told me, “just have their shit together.”

I’m definitely no expert on brain development—my friend is much more the lay scientist—but all of this sounded a bit fishy to me. I am, after all, the mother of a boy, who happens to be incredibly chatty, and from a very young age has been pretty well able to articulate whatever’s going on in his kooky little brain. He also, of course, goes to school, and it didn’t seem to me that the girls in his preschool were, in general, more eloquent—or immune to meltdowns—than the boys.

As a rule, though, I tend to avoid massive generalizations, particularly those having to do with gender, and the older Coleman gets, the more annoyed I find myself at the way today’s children are intensely guided toward troubling gender divisions seemingly from the moment of their birth, when boys are flooded with blue baseball-themed onesies and girls are given pink T-shirts that say “sweetheart” and “cutie.” But I’m more troubled by the way parents have developed this tendency to tell themselves that girls are biologically programmed to envision themselves as Disney princesses and boys have a hormone-driven desire to build things with Magna Tiles and fight with swords. I know, of course, that there’s an extent to which this must be slightly true, but it’s equally clear that kids, from a very early age, pick up on social cues—like, for instance, their parents’ playground chatter about how they’re irresistibly drawn to fairies, or guns.

In other words, I sometimes feel like there’s a bit of wish fulfillment going on. It’s as though our world is so chaotic and confusing—particularly with regard to gender roles—that perhaps we seek a bit of comfort in girls behaving the way we’ve been conditioned to think girls should—even if we give lip service to our surprise at it, insisting that we did nothing to encourage this predilection for pink—and boys the way they should (er, like savages or miniature engineers). This is, I’m certain, also part of the appeal of Mad Men.

All of this is on my mind, I suppose, because of writing this blog about the difficulty of being an artist and a mother, a subject I was reluctant to take on at first, in part because, I realize now, I’m loathe to fall into the trap of traditional “women’s writing”—opining on subjects domestic—and in part because, paradoxically, I worried that the issues I wanted to broach were too slight to warrant attention. But a day or two into the project, my trepidation disappeared, for suddenly notes started coming in, from old friends and new, from strangers and relatives, all of them women, about the ways in which their lives—the tenuous relationship with whatever meaningful work—resembles the outlines of mine. One friend, the novelist Emily Chenoweth, sent on a strange and fascinating correspondence between two poets, Sarah Manguso and Rachel Zucker, about, basically, what it means to be a woman writer. Manguso, who has no children, utterly resists such definitions—to the extent that she doesn’t even want her work to appear in anthologies of women’s writing—while Zucker, who has three sons, feels that she’s defined by the fact that she’s a mother (“I feel very much like an egg-box,” she writes, at one point, which made me laugh out loud, though I’m not sure the humor was intentional). I read through the dialogue with an odd mixture of recognition and resistance, somehow agreeing and disagreeing with both of them at the same time. But perhaps the most strange and shocking moment came when I read these words of Manguso’s:

At this point in history, wife and mother are still noncomplex, nonqualifiable categories—they’re such powerful archetypes, they swallow all the others, even if a woman has been a writer beforehand.

This is undoubtedly true. But, at the same time these “categories” aren’t just archetypes, they’re actual, human experiences. And though having children—becoming a mother—might briefly trump one’s identity as an artist, it also lends an urgency and depth to one’s life and, without question, to one’s art. Maybe it’s good and necessary to allow ourselves to be consumed by another being once or twice in our lives, and to come out on the other side with the power to delineate a whole new set of experiences—and in doing so complicate those monolithic archetypes. Or at the very least, raise daughters who don’t want to be Disney princesses. Or, if they do, are happy to—like Coleman’s little friend Beatrix—engage in a swordfight while clad in their princess costumes.

THE PROCRASTINATOR’S GIFT GUIDE WEEK!

Monday, December 14th, 2009

If you’re on the hunt for gifts before the 25th time is running out, which you probably realize.This week, we’ll give you our top 5 must-have gifts one by one. Sometimes good things (or shopping tips) are worth waiting for, but don’t wait too long. The last day for guaranteed next day air holiday shipping is 10 AM on December 23rd! First up on the list is our BFF graphic t-shirts! Everyone has a BFF, right? Many of us remember the days when we coordinated with our favorite pal and wore matching gear down the halls of our high school. This retro-inspired t-shirt will bring up memories of friendship bracelets and bling (as in extravagant gold jewelry at its best).

This tee is a great gift for sisters, daughters, or for you and your very own BFF – even if your school days are long gone. There’s the right side of the chain and the left side of the chain, and both can be worn when the other half isn’t around. It’s a fun reminder that BFFs are what we like to call TC (totally cool).

NO END TO THE PULLING

Friday, December 11th, 2009

By Guest Blogger Joanna Smith Rakoff

Jonathan Dee’s novel St. Famous centers on would-be writer named Paul Soloway, who’s been working on a Proustian epic for a decade, while his wife, Renata, supports the family—they have two young sons–toiling in the bowels of a photo archive, a job that gives her no pleasure, except in the knowledge that she’s putting food on the table and freeing up Paul to work on his magnum opus. Paul has an agent, who plucked him out of obscurity after reading one of his stories in a literary magazine, but otherwise will make no concessions to the world of commerce. His agent lines up work for him, writing for glossy magazines, which he refuses to even contemplate, citing the stupidity of the publications, despite the fact that he and Renata regularly have their utilities turned off because they can’t pay the bills. The novel, which is brilliant, hinges on what becomes the defining decision—the ultimate moral question—of Paul’s life: Two months before the novel opens, Paul has been randomly kidnapped and brutally beaten during a race riot. He emerges from the incident a celebrity, an amalgam of, say, the Central Park jogger and Patty Hearst, and is quickly faced with the offer of a six-figure book deal. Will he take it and give his exhausted wife a break? And secure some financial stability for his kids, who are perpetually clad in outgrown thrift store clothes? Half the novel centers on this dilemma.

You’re probably thinking, what dilemma? Why not just take the money, churn out the book, then live off it while finishing up the novel? Which is pretty much what Renata and everyone else in Paul’s life thinks, too. But the thing is: Paul considers himself a great writer. Not a good writer, not merely a publishable writer, but a great writer, a peer of Balzac and Proust, and, thus, he feels that some tawdry, written-for-the-masses account of his misfortunes would be below him, never mind the logical argument that if he’s such a great writer, anything he writes—not just his endless novel–will, of course, be great. “ ‘ He wants to be Byron, you know?’” his best friend, Martin, says at one point. “ ‘He wants to turn his back on society.” Indeed he does. So does he loathe popular culture that taking his sons to see The Little Mermaid constitutes a “major sacrifice” on his part and he sits through the flick grateful that the darkness prohibits the boys from seeing the grimaces he’s making throughout.

Here’s the thing: The novel is set in 1989. And reading it is, in part, an exercise in nostalgia for a time in which a writer might actually wrestle with the rarified question on Paul’s mind. We live in an age of relentless self-exposure, in which confessional blogs seem to be the dominant mode of expression, in which Facebook oversharing is simply an accepted part of our daily existence, in which preschoolers dictate “journals” to their teachers, and, most pertinently, in which serious writers, from Margaret Drabble to Alice Sebold think nothing of chronicling their lives in memoir form. And the pervasiveness of memoir has, in a way, led to a strange phenomenon: Readers, it seems, now refuse to believe that fiction is actually fiction. Every story, it seems, must be autobiographical in some way. This tends to be the first question people ask me at readings, phrased in this way, “I’m assuming this is completely autobiographical.” (In fact, it’s not.) And I hear the same from other writers.

This week, as I was sitting in bed nursing a horrible cold–trying to keep Coleman, (my son) who was home from school with that same cold from using my bread knife as his “sword”—reading St. Famous, I kept wondering how Paul Soloway would fare in today’s publishing climate, in which writers lives are equated with their work, and, moreover, in which writers are pretty much disallowed the kind of privacy Paul craves, that is, unless they’re J.D. Salinger or Thomas Pynchon or even Philip Roth. Publishing, these days, seems to be so much about publicity and authors are expected to participate, to a great extent, in publicizing their own books, which is, as recounted in my first post, why I’ve not made greater inroads in my next novel.

You’ll notice—as I just did—that the first names that came to me, when cataloging of literary recluses, are men. Are their any female writers who hide themselves away from the public? Who refuse to do interviews? Or to write about their lives for Vogue or Elle? There may be, but I can’t think of any at the moment (though there is a good amount of cold medicine in my system right now). Somehow, it seems like a woman who scorned the media—who would refuse to put on what Sarah Vowell, upon returning from her first book tour, described to me as “the dog-and-pony show”—wouldn’t be looked upon so kindly. They would, perhaps, be seen as “difficult.”

Anyway, year or so ago, before I myself went through the whole rigmarole of publishing a novel, I thought about this all rather differently. It’s strange to look back on it, to think about how naïve I was, how Paul Soloway-ish, in my own, 21st Century way. I remember, in particular, my publisher suggesting I put together a Web site—joannasmithrakoff.com!—and my, after a moment’s thought, saying, with a bit of irritation, that this was unnecessary. Jonathan Franzen doesn’t have a Web site, I told my editor, who nodded with intense patience, no doubt thinking, “yes, and Jonathan Franzen also pissed off Oprah. It’s a wonder he’s still alive, much less selling books.”

Seven plus months after the novel was released into the world—having spent many of those months dragging my entire family around the country, so that I might go to bookstores and read from it–my reluctance to participate in—or shyness about—the selling of it strikes me as both silly—I’ve seen so many friends go through the same thing and didn’t think any less of them for it—and completely valid. There’s a way in which Paul Soloway—despite being a kind of pill—is right. Focusing too much on the business end of art—art of any sort—can be dangerous: it can drain the joy out of the process of creating it; or it can fully prevent you from creating it, either by crowding your head with more quotidian thoughts, thoughts that prohibit you from truly thinking, or by investing you with a sense of futility, a sense that, say, nobody is reading (or going to galleries, or movie theaters, or concert halls), so why bother. For Paul Soloway, back in the lost land of 1989, merely writing a book on contract, for actual cash money, meant that the business end had taken over. No contemporary author would, I think, make such an argument, but I sometimes wonder if we couldn’t do with thinking of ourselves in a slightly more Byronic way, if we couldn’t somehow find a way to put up more walls around ourselves. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying I want to turn my back on society—and I’m seriously looking forward to taking Coleman to see The Princess and the Frog this weekend—I just fear, sometimes, that as high and low culture become one and the same, as do, it seems, commerce and art, something is getting lost along the way, if only the freedom to not think about anything other than the art at hand.

I don’t want to give away too much about St. Famous—you should read it for yourself—but I will say that it’s a novel of reversals and that, ultimately, Renata is revealed as the real heroine, for it’s her dilemma, rather than Paul’s that proves the most compelling, that being: For how long can she maintain her devotion to a man who, essentially, considers his own pursuits—his own life—more important than hers. There comes a moment, midway through the book, when she thinks about her life, as a working mother, and is overcome with “a guilt that pulled in two directions”: On the one hand, she wonders if her sons will remember her “later in their…lives, as an infrequent visitor, an ill-tempered disciplinarian whose sleep one was always being warned not to disturb.” On the other, “she was a woman of her time, and she was harried by the incorrectness, the meagerness of those retrograde longings for domestic life and for the daily society…of small children.” Twenty years later, here I am, pulled in those exact same directions. And with, it seems, no end to the pulling.