New York buzzes with energy and raw young fashion talent – a trifle crass at times, in your face always, cool and edgy most of the time. Young stars like Derek Lam, Proenza Shouler, Thakoon, Philip Lim, Rodarte and Zac Posen stride confidently onto the global fashion stage. Chunks of Isle Manhattan change from dingy brick warehouses to flashy, colorful, boutiques and galleries. And everywhere there are throngs shopping, prowling the fashion districts for the latest chic and unique style.
Every luxe fashion label has a boutique here in New York, after all it’s the capital of consumption! You can start your New York shopping spree at the department stores – from cutting edge designers at Barney’s to the more traditional established brands at Henri Bendel, Jeffreys, Saks and Bergdorf Goodman. Around these icons on Fifth Ave and Madison Ave are the temples to the individual deities of fashion: Chanel, Gucci, Prada and the like. But the real action is in Lower Manhattan – in Soho, Nolita, and the Meatpacking district.
Soho is New York’s fashion Cinderella – from a grungy working class district to a starving artists haven to edgy boutiques and indie galleries and now even the mega brands including Louis Vuitton have a presence there! It still retains a lot of charm and the feel of a neighborhood (albeit an expensive one!) Cobblestone streets, filled with shoppers and gawkers during shopping and dining hours, lead you from Marc Jacobs to Kate Spade. Kirna Zabete, the fashionistas’ favorite multibrand store, is a must-visit with its well-chosen selection of brands and high style from Balenciaga to David Szeto.
Nolita (North of Little Italy) is where Soho was 10-15 years ago. The independent minded artists and designers fleeing the commercial onslaught in Soho and Tribeca settled into mom-and-pop stores, pizzerias and the like in Nolita, Chelsea and the meatpacking district. In Elizabeth and Mulberry streets, you’ll find a host of little designer boutiques offering everything from accessories to one-of-a-kind garments to specialty foods.
The meatpacking district is an odd-mix with a few butchers still around to add local color to the chic fashion emporiums dotting the landscape. Stella McCartney, Diane von Furstenberg and Alexander McQueen are all located here on 14th street as is Jeffrey, the purveyor of the cream of the designer collections!
So what does one buy in New York? Everything – especially with the dollar at a bargain basement price against most other currencies! For classic design it’s Carolina Herrera, Oscar De La Renta, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren; or go for the coolest pieces from Derek Lam, Thakoon, or Zac Posen. Multibrand retail chains such as Intermix, Scoop or Searl offer diffusion lines and more affordable designers such as Nanette Lepore, Elie Tahari, Tory Burch, Vince and Theory. Then there are the “mall” chains that are in almost every major mall in the USA – Anthropologie, J. Crew, Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, BCBG Max Azria, etc.
The US is the home of the sale – sales go on year round with Thanksgiving (fourth weekend in November) and Memorial Day (last weekend in May) being well recognized. Department stores move their inventory fast and often you will find bargains in the discount department stores – TJ Maxx and Century21 being favored by locals in the know.