The latest brick-and-mortar casualty of the pandemic isn’t just another big box national retailer, and it’s one that stings particularly hard for bona fide New Yorkers. Pour one out for Bird, the beloved Brooklyn boutique that was as influential as it was infamous, which is sadly shuttering its doors.
Owner Jennifer Mankins broke the news on Instagram, that after 21 years outfitting the Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg and nearby neighborhoods in Rachel Comey clogs, Dries dresses, and Toast smocks, Bird will wind up shop in the coming weeks. She wrote, “For two decades, my life has been dedicated to creating joy, spreading beauty, supporting creativity, inspiring confidence, building community, using our platform to bolster social and political causes and selling a lot of gorgeous clothes along the way….Y’all know that I would seriously try and stay in business forever.”
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Mankins, a former buyer for Barneys, bought the store from its original owner in 2004 and shaped it into a trend-defining smorgasbord of local and international designers of note. On Instagram, she called the decision to close “heartbreaking” but noted that the pandemic has proved too challenging for the remaining physical locations to continue doing business. (The Park Slope store had already winded down back in May.)
The pioneering retail concept brought the likes of Isabel Marant, Comme des Garcons, and other high fashion offerings to the reach of cool Brooklynites, all while the millennials who have now flocked here in abundance were still impressionable school kids reading articles about how Brooklyn was the new Paris. As Business of Fashion’s chief correspondent Lauren Sherman writes, “During this period, Brooklyn’s cultural profile grew as a dining, music and art destination, and Bird became the unofficial outfitter of its expanding creative class, clad in No. 6 clogs and Suno printed dresses.”
On social media, editors like GQ’s Rachel Tashjian also talked about the impact the store had: “Bird in Brooklyn… almost singlehandedly created the power mommy look of Cobble Hill & Park Slope, in which every woman looked like she’d just returned from an evocative vacation where she bought a humble printed house dress (that was actually a $700 capital-f Frock),” she said.
In her note, Mankins adds that this Sunday will be the last day to shop in person in Cobble Hill, and the Williamsburg outpost will remain open just for a few more weeks—with 15% off final purchases. Going forward, operations will continue online: “I have not stopped believing in the power and importance of expressing oneself through the act of getting dressed, and I hope to see you on the other side of this with a new vision for Bird,” she said.
Brooklyn moms are gonna be in mourning – just found out Bird is closing for good (if you know you know 😢)
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 8, 2021
bird broke a lot of brands and was highly influential in the late 2000s, as kitson was in the early 2000s, in creating the look of an entire neighborhood that was then broadcast outwards; whatever you think of as "brooklyn mom" style, this store had a lot to do with
— rachel syme (@rachsyme) January 8, 2021
when I (a non-mom) lived in Park Slope, 2004-ish, one year I bought 2 smocky a-line supercheap t-shirt dresses at old navy as beach coverups. then I started wearing them around with clogs and ever time I did people on street would say "Bird?"
— Jane 🍳🧺🦵 (@looks_last) January 8, 2021
— Rachel Merrill (@Ohhhaeee) January 8, 2021