The Real Real
This is a great example of why shopping in New York is as exciting and exclusive as ever. The Real Real is a treasure trove of pre-loved designer goodies – except you’ll find no overstuffed rails of musty clothes here. The shopping experience is more high-end department store. Whatever your style, there are vintage gems from some of New York’s finest wardrobes in its SoHo and Brooklyn outlets – and they’re not difficult to find.
The streets either side of Bowery, where SoHo meets the Lower East Side, are a hotbed of special clothing boutiques. And things just got a little hotter with the arrival of Rowing Blazers. Its flagship store’s old-school, wood-panelled space is the perfect showcase for its preppy rugby shirts, vintage lacrosse sweats and Ivy League caps.
It’s hard to find in the UK for now, so don’t miss Tombolo. Only a couple of blocks from Rowing Blazers, it takes bold, playful, old-timey style in a completely different direction. Its relaxed unisex ‘escapewear’ spans sweaters to silk shirts – often with wild marine themes that link to some of the brand’s charitable interests.
No.6 made its name with handmade shoes and printed silk dresses. Today you can also find accessories, denim, swimwear and more at its small and perfectly formed store in Little Italy. And there’s just room for an exactingly chosen range of vintage and European designers.
Since launching Khaite a few years ago, designer Cate Holstein has wooed A-listers, influencers and fashion editors with her elevated take on the classics – you might remember Katie Holmes in the label’s cashmere bra-and-cardie combo. Want to reload on some chic wardrobe staples of your own? There’s only one Khaite store in the world – a striking flagship on Mercer Street in SoHo.
A morning wandering between SoHo and the LES is a golden chance to find the perfect pair of jeans. That’s because one of Everlane’s two New York outposts is here (the other’s in Williamsburg). Instead of ordering online, go meet America’s sustainable denim gurus face to face and explore a timeless range that runs from high-rise flares to low-rise shorties.
Seven Wonders Collective
Heading into the Lower East Side proper, Seven Wonders Collective is a vintage dreamland. Its third and newest store – the first two are in Brooklyn – brings together the polished handpicked finds of 18 different vendors.
Sean Monahan and Monica Paolini are childhood friends who love using distinctive textures – from embroidered cotton to technical fabrics – and original motifs to give classic silhouettes a new edge. Whether you like maxis, midis or modern separates, get to know their ‘polished bohemian’ style in person at the SoHo store next to their workshop.
No one does a puff sleeve quite like Ulla Johnson. Manhattan born and bred, the designer has drawn on New York street life and her own travels to forge a signature style that runs through her adored printed dresses to woven bags, statement earrings and now sustainable denim. Immerse yourself in them all at her flagship NoHo store.
What Goes Around Comes Around
WGACA is a much-loved pre-loved pioneer. It’s been sourcing and selling the finest luxury vintage pieces since the early 90s. Today, its crack team of buyers travel the world in search of classic bags, accessories, jewellery and clothing from names like Hermès, Dior, Chanel and Gucci. See what they’ve found most recently at its two stores in SoHo.
Bode’s modernist store design is inspired by old hotel lobbies. On its shelves you won’t just find selected pieces from the brand’s long-awaited womenswear collections – there are also one-off garments made from old textiles.
La Garçonne started out online, but now offers its sophisticated own-label wares alongside pieces from an array of other upscale designers at its store in Tribeca. There might be no better place in the city to discover statement monochromes and neutrals.
Right up at the other end of the island, Harlem Haberdashery is authentically, genuinely unique and demands a pilgrimage. For more than three decades, its Harlem born and raised owners have been customising clothes under the 5001 Flavors name – creating one-of-a-kind looks for celebs, sports stars and musicians from Biggie to Beyoncé. Go see what they can do in situ.
Over on Manhattan’s west side, at one end of the High Line, Hudson Yards has risen quickly and established itself as the city’s foremost mega-mall. Lots of the biggest international luxe brands are here, vying for your attention with New York labels like Theory and Kate Spade.
Running all the way from Greenwich Village to Harlem, Fifth Avenue is more than six miles long. For that New York shopping experience you’ve seen in the movies, you want the section roughly between 50th and 60th streets, just above the Rockefeller Center and below Central Park. This is where you’ll find Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, all the big Italian fashion houses and, of course, Tiffany.
Canal Street Market
Canal Street Market close to Chinatown is an easy place to spend a lot of time. It’s both food court and craft fair. Among the 15+ resident makers, you might find Italian jewellery, K-pop accessories, American leather goods or sustainable fashion. Once your arms are full and stomachs empty, the rotating cast of food vendors tends to feature exciting options like Filipino tacos or Peruvian ceviche.
Tangerine is somewhere else you could easily lose yourself in. From the books to the homeware, everything is perfectly curated at this lifestyle concept store on a treelined corner of Williamsburg. A top spot for gifts, it has outdoor seating if you’re making an afternoon of it.
Art dealer and graphic designer Brendan Dugan has three galleries around town – and the Karma Bookstore in the East Village. Head in to be inspired by an expert selection of rare art books that runs from architecture to fashion.
Cali brand Jenni Kayne might be best known for its easy yet elevated wardrobe essentials. But, in the heart of SoHo, it has dedicated a flagship store to its homewares. Its founder is a master of neutral interiors, and this is the place to see what all of the fuss is about.
For furniture, lighting and assorted home goods, you want Beam in Williamsburg. Mixing East Coast and West, vintage and new, it’s got the latest and greatest from the likes of Ferm Living and Tom Dixon, alongside appealing pieces from under-the-radar local brands such as Brooklyn Candle Studio and Hawkins New York.
Casa Magazines is a bit like Broadway’s famous Strand Bookstore – but for magazines. If ever you thought print was dead, this is the place that will prove you wrong. It’s a no-frills retro treat that stocks thousands of titles from high-fashion glossies to no-budget zines. So strong is its retro appeal, Julianne Moore and Malcolm Gladwell are among its famous regulars – and Pat McGrath once hosted a beauty pop-up here.
DS & Durga
Brooklyn couple DS & Durga have redefined what a fragrance can be over the last 15 years. The self-taught perfumers started with scents and continue to push boundaries with more recent releases like ‘Grapefruit Generation’. They’ve also expanded into candles (our words alone won’t do justice to ‘Pasta Water’), hand soaps like ‘Wild Brooklyn Lavender’ and cool car fresheners such as ‘Big Sur After Rain’. See everything they can do at their home patch in Williamsburg – or at their Nolita store with its light wall and mini perfume lab.