It looks so charming

Tom Vanderbilt

  • No Sweat: Fashion, Free Trade, and the Rights of Garment Workers edited by Andrew Ross
    Verso, 256 pp, £14.00, September 1997, ISBN 1 85984 172 4

Just east of Fifth Avenue on 57th St in New York City there is an archaic, gymnasium-like building with the legend ‘PS 6453’ engraved on its peak. First you wonder how a public school ever got built in such a tony shopping district, then you realise the structure is actually home to Nike Town New York, the Manhattan version of the ‘entertainment retail’ boutique Nike has opened in a dozen other cities. The building, it turns out, is not the gym of a Thirties public school but a reconfigured department store. The ‘6453’ spells ‘N-I-K-E’ on a New York telephone keypad.

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