shopping in nyc can feel like a full-time job. the possibilities are endless, and even if you choose your destinations carefully, the probability of finding yet another new interesting boutique is, let's just say, high.
as a consistent rule i would avoid shopping during the weekend. "the earlier the better" also applies whenever possible – unless you belong to the group of people who find empty stores intimidating. in addition to a couple of exceptions, i only shop in areas i find otherwise also inspiring, and therefore you're not going to find recommendations for stores in soulless midtown here. i also recommend signing up for all possible lists before traveling in order to be informed about warehouse and sample sales in the city. last week many of my friends got lucky at the barneys new york warehouse sale...
but here we go.
century21 is something every new yorker loves. whether you're into high fashion or not, this bargain hunters' heaven is a likely target – whether you're willing to admit it or not. the stock is past season items from every imaginable designer and brand, and the shoe department alone is worth a visit (designer shoes are downstairs...) go early in the morning (opens at 7.30am), during the week, and reserve a few hours for browsing. add everything you like ever so slightly to your shopping basket and just try it on. if you don't grab it right away, it may be gone...
i left with a helmut lang wool dress (below), some rick owens, martin margiela and vivienne westwood garb, and although the prices are relative to the originals, the savings were huge. for designers whose style alters very little from one season to another and for fashion lovers like myself who know exactly what they love regardless whether it is current season or not, century21 is like the perfect speed date: instantly gratifying.
dress helmut lang; watch tag heuer; glasses chanel.
barney's co-op is the hipper, younger alternative to the high-end barney's department store. in their own words "it's always downtown even when it's uptown" which pretty much sums up nyc fashion. from their several locations i like the original soho store best. my sneak peek boots are from there – and sugar kane, more pics are on their way...
oak is a boutique started in williamsburg and now has an additional location on the edge of soho towards east village. they sell up-and-coming young designers and established brands such as philip lim, alexander herchcovich+wang, bernhard willhelm and comme des garçons. a tad on the expensive side and with snotty service, the selection is worth ignoring the downsides.
opening ceremony on the border of soho and chinatown is one of absolute favorites. three floors of edgy designers and special collaborations guarantee there is always something interesting and new on offer.
for streetwear lovers the scene in manhattan seems grim. many amazing sneaker stores have closed down although luckily dave's quality meat is still alive and kickin' for the pleasure of footwear connoisseurs. for those who desire a wide selection and good prices the secret is to go down on broadway in soho: the lower you go towards canal street, the lower the prices on sneakers. for converse, the prices go down approximately 10$ per block. the emporium i recommend is michael k who carry several brands but also rare and customized sneakers.
the design aficionado will hail the incredible prada store in soho designed by rem koolhaas. the sales associates are used to design students sketching away on the steps and service is sometimes hard to find due to the immense amount of tourists just checking the interior. but even if you go in intending not to buy, it may prove hard – as it did for both my usually hight-street wearing little sis and meself. this time i was seduced by these booties with a thick rubber sole, "läskärit" (i.e. fatties) as we'd call them in finnish.
consignment shopping is huge in nyc, and for manhattan my recommendation is to head over to the east village and tokyo 7 where the fashionable and wealthy take the stuff they get bored with – usually after one wear. high-end recycling never got better... on the same street you can find other quality vintage stores, so just pop in and see what's on offer. to my disappointment, second-hand and vintage stores have gone insane with their pricing: lower east side stores sell second-hand for hundreds of dollars a piece regardless of quality, brand and condition. i had to conclude it wasn't worth it...
next time, brooklyn.