It's not as though the economic landscape is that much rosier than it was last year. But despite the grim forecasts and actual news of so many shops bidding adieu, many boutiques in New York City and Brooklyn are continuing to thrive. It might not be easy, but by combining a staunch point of view and the support of a loyal following, these shops set the standard for staking your retail claim in the mightiest metropolis--even during dark times.
As the holidays quickly approach, we've got our shop firmly back ON, and in your future pursuits of all things fashionable, one-of-a-kind, and obsess-able, check out our top boutique picks. Today reveals Part I in our series, but check back next week when we'll hit NYC's SoHo and NoLiTa...and, yes, beloved Brooklyn awaits, too.
The West Village & TriBeCa
Two of Manhattan's oldest communities are home to a myriad of quiet, storied streets and equally charming boutiques to boot. Today, older favorites like Mick Margo sit comfortably alongside newcomers like Rag & Bone. Today, The West Village and its southern neighbor TriBeCa remain the pricier hoods to shop, but if you're in the market for that sublime Isabel Marant dress along with a Magnolia cupcake, you've come to the right place.
If there was ever a way to encourage people to read, a trip to Edon Manor would be it. Owned by Davinia Wang and Ryan Korban, the accessories boutique is stocked and styled with Wang's English countryside home in mind. Hand-selected rare books and custom-designed green velvet wingbacks provide a uniquely inviting space for shoppers to try on the array of highly-coveted Alaïa and Givenchy wares. Mirrored drawers and vibrant bouquets also add some boudoir glamour to the stunning store that makes shopping feel like a trip a countryside manor.
Steven Alan is often credited as the father of the modern plaid shirt, so it doesn't come as a surprise that his TriBeCa outpost is filled American basics and classic tailoring. The warm space, outfitted with simple dark wooden floors and furniture, provides a backdrop for a mélange of interesting yet wearable designers, including Sunshine and Shadow, Acne, Dieppa Restreppo and, of course, Alan's own eponymous line. His understated yet beautiful jewelry is definite stand-out in this boutique, with pieces from designers like Alyssa Norton and some choice vintage pieces.
West Village Boutiques
In New York, "vintage" is rarely synonymous with "affordable," and if you're shopping for quality, you'd better be ready to shell out the big bucks. Pippin Vintage Jewelry bucks with this wallet-deflating trend by offering up a vast array of accessories from brooches to cufflinks, most of which run between $5-30. For anyone who has ever been turned off by the chaos of some vintage stores, Pippin is a godsend: The store is incredibly organized, with pieces arranged by color and type in small chests of drawers, or, neatly laid out on wooden bureaus and tables to aid even the weariest of treasure hunter. Stock also gets replenished on a regular basis, meaning weekly visits are always likely to promise new treasures.
Formerly based in Williamsburg, Kerrilyn Palmer's Castor and Pollux made the move to the West Village just a few years ago, but it seems right at home on the tree-lined street it occupies. The intimate store, looks like a department store that could belong in Mad Men with its elegant old Bergdorf displays, but its offerings are utterly modern. The boutique is a go-to for girls who eschew trends and favor feminine classics with a twist, such as Marais shoes, Risto Bimbiloski coats, Sonia Rykiel knits, and Acne Jeans.
The West Village location of Otte brings all the charm of Kay Lee's original Brooklyn boutique, appealing to a downtown crowd with "everything from basics to black tie." The minimalist, well-lit space lets the carefully edited selection of clothing and accessories take center stage, which include pieces by 3.1. Phillip Lim, Nicole Farhi, Vanessa Bruno, and Rag and Bone. Basic tees and jeans by Current/Elliot and J Brand are also in the mix, ensuring that shoppers will be spoilt for choice in this friendly neighborhood favorite.
There are plenty of good reasons why Kyung Lee has a loyal following: A focus on smaller, unique labels, impeccable service, and comfortable furnishings that provide a stylish respite to tired shoppers. Her charming Christopher Street store Albertine offers an eclectic mix of designers and a beautiful collection of vintage jewelry, all nestled next to Victorian couches and distinctive knick-knacks that provide an air of quiet romance. Bespoke dress-making adds to the special experience every shopper is likely to have in this petite store, and is rounded off by unobtrusive and friendly service from the boutique's elegant shop assistants.
The brainchild of former Broadway costume designer Anne French Emonts, this dare we say it—darling—boutique boasts equal parts of romance, theatricality, and old-school charm. The cozy, two-level store's star attractions are its vintage and new dresses, including pieces from the store's own private label, Yumi Kim, Quail, and Max and Cleo. Those in search of the perfect special occasion outfit are likely to get their fix of feminine frocks here, along with any adorable accessories and lacy underthings they may require. And if the beautiful wares, the comfortable service, and inviting ambience aren't enough, there's also a hidden courtyard garden in the back of the store where customers can spend a quiet moment in the heart of the West Village.
This gem of a store is a quintessential West Village boutique: Snug, eclectic and thoroughly beautiful. The retro-without-being-kitschy store is littered with black-and-white photos of owner Nadine Ferber's dapper British grandfather and the store's namesake, and provides a fitting home for its assortment of modern designers. Favorites like Alexander Wang bags, Rachel Comey shoes, and Vena Cava dresses are a big draw, and will undoubtedly keep you in the pinstripe-curtained dressing rooms for a long time.
Just from looking at it, one would never be able to guess at Aloha Rag's Hawaiian pedigree. Tatsugo Yoda's Greenwich Street boutique boasts a large, starkly minimalist space, and houses designers both directional and avant-garde. Margiela, Ann Demuelemeester, and Commes des Garçons define the store's high-end aesthetic, but are also mixed with more modestly priced contemporary labels like Elizabeth and James and 3.1. Phillip Lim. And even though the store can't bring some of that Honolulu sunshine to Manhattan, an attractive selection shoes by Golden Goose, Bess, and Balmain X Giuseppe Zanotti is likely to bring customers back for more.
Maria Cornejo's Greenwich Street store is sparse and airy, a fitting backdrop for her conceptual and sculptural designs. The quiet, relaxing atmosphere allows shoppers to take their time studying each of her designs on the carefully arranged racks, from wool, dolman-sleeved coats to tulip skirts, many of which feature Cornejo's unmistakable draping.
David Neville and Marcus Wainwright's first New York boutique is much like their clothing: Simple, understated, but still enrapturing. The low-lit space is offset by slate flooring, rugged furnishings, decorative vintage doo-dads and exposed brick walls, which match seamlessly with their classic, yet modern sportswear. Men and women alike can treat themselves to the duo's must-have denim and signature menswear tailoring in an abundance of fabrics to get a look that is timeless rather than trendy.
Rag & Bone photo by Elissa Wiehn. Albertine photo by Ashley Jahnke.