Barneys New York opens its San Francisco store on Wednesday, in the Stockton Street building that previously housed FAO Schwartz, and Joseph Magnin before that. People with money to burn are all a-twitter about it, and of course the local media can’t find anything better to do than to gush about it as well. The Union Square luxury shopping experience is important to San Francisco’s economy and image, as it has been since the days when a lady wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without hat and gloves, but I don’t think I’d find anything I wanted in the whole joint. I am glad to see it open, though, because Barneys is certain to make Union Square a lot funnier.
Up until this week, I worked in an office a block from Union Square, and I am really going to miss the fashion victims. On at least three days out of any given week, at least once a day I’d spot someone wearing something so absurdly fashionable I wanted to laugh out loud. I don’t mean that guy in the white shoes who hangs out on the east side of Stockton Street trying to lure people to some menswear store (he would ignore me when I passed by in jeans and a sweater, but kept trying to press a flyer into my hand when I wore a suit), though he is pretty funny — sort of a high-rent version of the guys who stand on the side of the road and wave big signs advertising vacancies in Parkmerced or announcing that Circuit City is going out of business again. I mean that I saw some hilariously tragic man-blouses and the like almost every day of the week, and Barneys is certain to provide an extra measure of hilarity. At least, it’s hilarious for as long as I can keep from thinking about how many people you could feed for the cost of one ugly shirt.