Known for its former association with the arts (and all the other magic that occurred in factory lofts), SoHo's cobblestone streets are still alive with creativity. Here, you'll find the poster children of downtown chic--the grand descendants of their 1960s predecessors--stepping in and out of everything from small boutiques to huge chains with a special SoHo twist.
The unique mix of designer flagships, contemporary designers, and galleries make SoHo an easy way to blow an entire day of holiday shopping...not to mention an entire paycheck. Watch out for models, designers, and fashion school prodigies browsing the streets with formidable shopping acumen. Follow our roundup and you'll be an expert at maneuvering all the right boutiques by the time you reach Broadway and Canal.
A staple on any shopping mission, 3.1 Phillip Lim's New York flagship is home to the best selection of the line offered in one place. You'll be seduced from one end of this Jeremy Barbour-designed store to the other by a sleek arrangement of garments all presented on a clean backdrop of hardwood and mirrored walls. Lim's staff attempts to stock every available color for the styles they carry to provide maximum variety, which means you'll get a better selection here than anywhere else. Twice a year you'll have a chance to claw for the limited-edition organic line, Go Green Go, which is highly coveted (and once it's gone, it's gone!).
SoHo is known for a certain degree of exclusivity, from posh candy shopping to rooftop fashion presentations—so, if you're in the market for a place to source some rare and beautiful eyewear, you'll find what you're looking for here. The co-owner Jordan Silver is an avid eyewear collector with more than a few things to say about it, having enough expertise to sell his accumulation of specs to major department stores and fellow-SoHo boutiques. Silver Lining boasts a spectrum of global styles with frames you really won't find anywhere else. We figure, if the styles here are good enough for Rhianna and Jay Z, they're good enough for us.
Arguably one of the best vintage spots in town, No. 6 is run by vintage collector Morgan Yakus and stylist Karin Bereson who together have created a rich shopping experience with their well-curated selection of vintage and designer goods. The staff here is incredibly friendly and helpful, encouraging you to get the most out of their comfortable sofas as you peruse for the perfect Parisian cocktail dress, organic cotton harem pants, or Gabriela Artigas necklace of your dreams.
Acne's been on everybody's It-list since the SoHo studio opened in 2008—a curious, artistic interior with checker-board floors and clean white shelving. The Swedish brand's popularity can be attributed to the functionality and wearability of their clothing, which never falls short of being of-the-minute minimalist. The unfinished look of the boutique is immediately reminiscent of SoHo artist lofts that once reigned among the real estate of the region, and appropriately so—Acne is the backbone of many an artistic effort, from the furniture design of the store space to film and music projects, in addition to well-known publication Acne Paper.
If you find yourself in the mood for something romantic (or just really, really sexy), stop by this dimly lit alcove of stellar sensuality for a luxe lifestyle upgrade. They've got all the essentials you'll need to conjure up a high-class scandal. Here, Kiki specializes in lingerie and intimates, jewelry, bath and body elixirs, "gifts and indulgences," and other enhancements to a lady's powder room that aim to celebrate and promote a more passionate rendez-vous (even if it's just with yourself!). The mascot of the brand, Man Ray's most notable muse and fixture of the Paris social scene in the '20s, sums up the image and imaginative prowess of Kiki's target customer.
Opening Ceremony, 35 Howard Street (between Broadway and Lafayette); 212-219-2688. www.openingceremony.us
For shopping that's fun, interactive, and jam-packed with off-the-wall pieces you won't find anywhere else, there's only one real place to go in SoHo. Opening Ceremony's flagship shop is always stocked from the best indie and established designers including Charles Anastase, Proenza Schouler, Rachel Comey, Rodarte, and Tsumori Chisato. Beyond their extensive collection of quirky clothing (find both Where the Wild Things Are fur suits and flounced Anotinette dresses), Opening Ceremony stocks a great shoe selection, fun tchotchkies, and a wall full of hard-to-find zines.
Topshop needs no introduction. The hyped up Biba-of-the-now has been the talk of the town since way before it actually landed on Broadway, but somehow the buzz is still buzzing. Perhaps because Topshop has an edge that its often-compared-to, previously-worshiped Swedish sibling H&M lacks. The sequins, the tie-die, the giant animal motif necklaces... Three stories of over-embellished, saturated rock star attire for girls and guys, laid out in a haphazard labyrinth of the latest styles off the streets of London. You'll find specialty collections by Kate Moss (duh) and Christopher Kane among the regular rotation, and with their immense variety of styles available at any given time, we're pretty sure you'll have no problem finding something to wear out this weekend.
When you learn that Swedish company Dunderon was founded by a carpenter (Per-Ivan Hagberg), everything snaps right into place. The smart, architectural aesthetic of the boutique reflects the sensibilities infused into the construction of a Swedish cottage, with merchandise vividly inspired by the act of lifting a hammer and building something magnificent. The initial success of the line was carried by a loyal customer base of artisans and workers, to whom function was everything. Following this, Dunderon released sportswear for both sexes that embodies the same basic concept: To outfit flawlessly every creative mind, whether "blue-collar professional or a no-collar creative".
Once the crisp air of SoHo's elite boutiques begins to wear on your inner child, you owe it to yourself to step into Kiosk. Follow the neon pink arrow on Spring street into what looks like it could be another Happy Endings—but turns out to be more like a cooler, downtown version of your 10th birthday party. Festive favors and silver balloons will transport you into the quirkiest shopping environment in town, and don't expect to find a totally cohesive lineup of merchandise here. The boutique's curator, Alisa Grifo, successfully concocted a gallery space where rare, off-beat items of various origin are sold to good homes. If anything, this is the flea market of the future.
Another advocate in the SoHo trend of semi-sentimental, quality oriented shopping, Legacy's mastermind Rita Brookoff brings her own refined taste to the mix with a walk-in closet of sophisticated womenswear. The storefront is modest and narrow—you might even miss it if the impeccably outfitted dress forms in the window don't catch your eye. Inside you'll find the Legacy label alongside emerging designers and vintage relics with similarly timeless appeal. Whether you're in search of an overkill '30s corsage, vintage Chanel heels, or the perfect silk floral dress, you'll find all of that and more right here.
A Détacher, 262 Mott Street (near Houston Street); 212-625-3380.
If you're in the market for elegant, well-constructed clothing at a manageable price, look no further than Mona Kowalska's flagship boutique. The calm, beautiful space, which is outfitted with a wall or mirrored tiles, is relaxing to browse through, and provides a fitting environment in which shoppers can take in Kowalska's timeless designs.
Tucked away on the ever-pretty Elizabeth Street, this sweet store has long been a haven for lovers of Lyell's beautiful and feminine clothing. Shoppers will have a hard time resisting the wares here, which often includes prim-but-not-proper silk dresses, romantic blouses, and cozy cardigans. And you won't just want the clothes on the rack--the store's famously chic salesgirls will probably leave you wanting every last Lyell piece they have draped across their stylish backs.
Texture and print are the name of the game in this rustic-but-minimal downtown store manned by Jesse Finkelstein and Katie King. The clothing, which is made with the help of gifted artisans from India, focuses on thoroughly modern garments that meld an innovative use of textiles with traditional beading, embroidery, and printing. And as if the unique, trendless pieces weren't enough to hook you in, everything is well priced (ranging from $80 to $250) and crafted using fair labor practices.
No. 6 photo by Ashley Jahncke