by Andi Teran
The East Village has never been short on vintage stores, but hidden among the cafes and off-off-Broadway theatres of historic East 4th Street is a is a little-known retail pocket of fashion history. Centricity could well be one of the best vintage outposts south of Union Square, and if the screaming green Givenchy tunic on the sale rack isn't enough to lure you in, owner Christine's sweet personality, expansive collection of accessories, and jaw droppingly low price tags will.
After years of vigorous planning, Centricity opened during the rather fateful summer of 2001. Christine (just Christine) had been hunting for an East Village spot yielding equal parts space and character to house an impressive collection of womenswear from the 20s to the 80s. After rather tenacious dealings with East 4th Street's legendary landlord and board, Christine passed the test and secured a space just shy of the bustling theatre row on the historic downtown stretch. Housed beneath a residential building that has, thankfully, remained entirely unchanged with the rapid gentrification of the area, Centricity soon cultivated a seasoned crowd of savvy vintage mavens and local admirers alike.
"I get everyone from young women who love vintage, stylists, designers, and older theatre going ladies who are interested in unique things," Christine remarks while her two blue parakeets, Bella and Michaelangelo, chirp happily in the background. The store itself is like an oversized, walk-in closet with not one inch of the walls visible behind figure grazing 70s dresses, sexy secretary blouses, multicolored leather sling-backs, or the hodge-podge of unique housewares. A framed mirror bearing the logo from television's M.A.S.H. in bold black letters peeks out from underneath a red and white, zebra-striped tee cleverly edged with a zipper. "There's new merchandise weekly," says Christine before breaking into a smile and saying, "No, daily!"
When pressed to reveal which pieces she's had a hard time parting with, her delicate face lights up as she describes a mint 1920's flapper frock that was "absolutely perfect!" and purchased by a young lady who just wanted to wear it out and about. There was also the pristine Pucci handbag that makes her go wide-eyed and dreamy. "I'm known for my accessories, " she proclaims while peering down at the glass case overflowing with technicolor earrings, glimmering brooches, and necklaces that would be at home on the pages of any current fashion mag. "I'm able to keep the prices affordable...but that's a big secret!" Her secret is safe with us.
Centricity, 63 East 4th Street, 212-979-7601
Photography by Hamish Robertson
The East Village has never been short on vintage stores, but hidden among the cafes and off-off-Broadway theatres of historic East 4th Street is a is a little-known retail pocket of fashion history.