“Lower East Side” Being Co-opted to Sell Cheap Shoes


Via Bowery Boogie, we have learned that Payless ShoeSource is now offering a brand encapsulating the style, quirkiness, and wonder of one of our very own downtown Manhattan neighborhoods. The “Lower East Side” line features heart waterfall earrings, flower satin headbands, and some of the ugliest shoes this side of 14th Street.

This is disconcerting, although certainly not new. For years, New York neighborhoods have been adopted for branding purposes, of items ranging from sandwiches to pants. But when the Lower East Side is claimed by a budget, uber-mainstream, shoewear-for-the-masses entity like Payless instead of, say, the Bowery being claimed by John Varvatos, what does that mean for our NYC neighborhoods? Are we declining in value? Or are we “mainstream” ourselves? (Judging by the haters, that would be a no.)

Then again, maybe a store like Payless is more in keeping with the Lower East Side’s humble roots than is using “Bowery” to denote a boot that costs $550, even on sale. So perhaps this is a good thing! Though you’d think Payless could try a little harder to make their items at least remotely attractive. Unless they think the Lower East Side is ugly? Step off, Payless!

Though, ever since “Williamsburg” started being used to describe Manhattan apartments, we’ve pretty much stopped paying attention to the meaning of words anyway. No, not really.