When you’re strolling the streets of New York, it feels like there’s a store that’s calling your name on every corner. The city is America’s fashion capital, and it’s basically a big outdoor mall, dotted with department stores, luxe designer labels, pop-ups, and chic boutiques that fly under most tourists’ radars. After a lot of thought and some ruthless culling, I’ve narrowed down my favourite brick-and-mortar stores in NYC for everything from clothes and shoes to books and beauty.
Lower East Side, Soho, Noho
I’m obsessed with linen, and during the dreary NY winter, I’ve been busy building up my summer wardrobe at Reformation. A blogger fave, you’ve prob seen this effortlessly cool brand splashed on Instagram. It’s all about beautiful basics and vintage-inspired threads, with racks of floaty and fitted dresses, slips, skirts, silky tops, crops, denim, and plenty of linen. They’re feel-good buys too: the brand uses sustainable methods and materials, and they focus on fit. The clothes come in a range of sizes, and there are collections specially designed for petite girls, and those with C-DD cups (which, if you fall into that category, you know how RARE that is!). In Noho, the newest store is very tech-y – the fitting rooms have phone chargers, speakers and buttons that let you adjust the lighting.
It’s been 16 years since Opening Ceremony exploded onto the fashion scene, and it’s been kitting out the cool kids ever since. In Soho, the store has a cult-like following, all thanks to the sharp eye of its owners – who also happen to be the creative directors behind Kenzo. So if you want to splurge on one of the brand’s signature tiger sweaters, you’ll find a fab selection here. The store also stocks labels like Mason Margiela, Rodarte, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Alexander Wang and Levi’s, and collabs with them from time to time. For bold dresses, statement shoes, and chic sunglasses, this is the place to go.
Top tip: While you’re strolling around Soho, pop into Alexander Wang’s flagship on Grand Street. With marble floors, black leather couches, and art installations, it’s chic AF and worth a visit even if you’re pinching pennies.
Over the bridge in Williamsburg, this jewellery store is an absolute GEM, with a long list of celeb fans. It’s a dainty dream, but not too girly, and my go-to for mix-and-match earrings (the chain earrings are my fave), delicate necklaces, cuffs, and rings made for stacking – which the store is most famous for. The store has pieces from Catbird’s coveted label, as well as local designers who are on the brink of exploding, like Blanca Monros Gomez and Jennie Kwon. It also stocks some too-pretty-to–use beauty prods, plus cashmere goodies and cards.
Mulberry & Grand
West Village, Little Italy, Columbus Circle
This is the most adorable boutique. I discovered it when I lived around the corner, and now, it’s my first stop for cute printed dresses, A-line skirts, linen pieces (sensing a theme?), and accessories like belts, scarves, sunglasses and beach bags. Run by a hubby and wife team, Mulberry & Grand stocks its own brand, as well as a curated collection of labels from around the world. Clothes and accessories aside, there’s plenty of handmade and one-of-a-kind jewellery.
Remember Emily Weiss, the super intern from The Hills? Well, she grew up and created a beauty blog, and then a fully-fledged beauty empire. Glossier’s mantra is ‘skin first, makeup second’, and its Soho showroom is an Instagram sensation. Flooded with natural light, the store features all of the brand’s luxe-for-less skincare and beauty prods, from cleansers and fluffy moisturisers to lipsticks, illuminators and tinted moisturisers. The whole space is serene and pretty in pink, and the staff wears pale pink jumpsuits to match.
Williamsburg, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene
Another Brooklyn beauty, Bird has four boutiques in the borough. They’re brimming with brands that are known for their edgy yet wearable basics at various price points, so you’ll see Acne, Isabel Marant and Comme Des Garcons hanging next to Levi’s and Re/Done. When you’re hunting for the perfect piece, head to the Williamsburg location. It’s the flagship, and it always features an art installation or colourful collab of some sort, plus it has an epic menswear collection, just in case you’re looking for a pressie.
Top tip: Speaking of Comme Des Garcons, when you’re in Chelsea, be sure to check out their flagship on West 22nd street – the entry is via a tunnel!
Assembly New York
Lower East Side
Sometimes, you just need a really, really good tee. When I need to stock up on basics, I go to Urban Outfitters or Assembly, which caters to both girls and guys (no ‘boyfriend chair’ in the change rooms here!) and has a great range of tees and tanks, jeans, knits, and playsuits, plus leather goodies, accessories and shoes. Imagine a Bassike vibe, with a few vintage pieces and rocker tees thrown in, and that’s what this store is all about.
ABC Carpet & Home
Whether you’re decking out your NYC apartment, or searching for some treasures to bring home, get ready to spend a whole afternoon here, and love every second of it. ABC Carpet & Home is a six-storey design mecca, with furniture, lighting, homewares, kitchenware galore from across the globe. Each section is bursting with inspo, thanks to the talented visual merchandising team (we’re onto you!), and the round-the-world trip continues with chandeliers, dip-dyed textiles and gorgeous rugs. If you’re just ducking in for souvenirs, check out the first floor – it’s packed with jewellery, apothecary, and other gift items.
The Apartment by The Line
Welcome to my happy place: The Apartment by The Line. Sitting pretty on the second floor of a Soho loft, this concept store is incredible. It’s set up like a seriously chic apartment, except everything is for sale, from the clothes in the walk-in wardrobe, to the art on the walls, the books on the bookshelves, and the beauty prods on the edge of the bathtub. The idea is that you can do exactly what you dream of going when you walk into an amazing apartment – shop it! When one item sells, it’s replaced with another, so you’re guaranteed to spot some new goodies every time you go.
Top tip: Just got your tax back? Splurge some of it at Barneys Downtown, the more millennial version of the famous uptown store. It’s smaller, but has an enviable collection of bags and jewellery from big-name labels.
Nolita and Williamsburg
Book lovers, nerd out at McNally Jackson, a bustling bookstore in Nolita. Stretching across two floors, the shelves are lined with novels, non-fiction books, art books, kids books, travel guides and magazines. Once you’ve picked your story, cosy up in the on-site café to read it, or sprawl out on the communal table. The much-loved shop also hosts book readings and meet-the-author events all the time, and thanks to its roaring success, has just opened a smaller store in Williamsburg. It’s official: books are cool again.
Words by Katia Iervasi.