It has been a few slushy weeks in the city, so hopefully the worst of the winter weather is behind us. And that virus, too. Obviously, the city has changed in the last year, but New York is far from finished — tabloid headlines notwithstanding. We have lost some things, but we have gained some as well. In fashion, there is only one constant — and that is that it will change.
When I was in Noho and Nolita last week, they were clearing out the fixtures of the now-empty Goop store on Bond Street. Across the street was a new, as in yet to open, store with people bustling behind the papered over windows. Commercial rents are down all over the city. They had been too high before the pandemic, causing restaurants and boutiques too much pain for too long. Lower rents are bringing back businesses, old and new. I am looking forward to seeing what spring brings.
AAPE by A Bathing Ape is a jewel box of a store. It is a less expensive sister brand to BAPE, the streetwear line started years ago by Nigo, a Japanese streetwear god. He sold his company to a Hong Kong manufacturer in 2010, and they have been expanding the brand’s footprint. Nigo chanelled the movie Planet of the Apes for his iconic ape logo, and a moon-faced version is the logo here.
That logo is seen in the mirror. As is the other BAPE signature, a cheerful redo of camoflauge, as seen on the jacket sleeve to the left. AAPE started off as a women’s-only collection. Soon men’s and kid’s clothing were added. Sneakers are also a big part of the mix. Hoodie dresses for women look cool.
Camo covers a lot of the product. This backpack features a blown up version of the humorous redo. With large glass windows on two sides, the store is filled with light.
All your essential streetwear gear is here. Even masks. There are often lines to get into the Soho BAPE store. I wonder how soon that will start to happen here.
AAPE by a Bathing Ape, 340 Lafayette Street at Bleecker Street
Just up the street is a new retail concept, Showfields. Located in what was the first veterinary hospital in the city, the space offers small brands and artists the chance to take spaces for short or longer term. Even established brands take spaces here. There are three floors of merchandise arranged by type: beauty and well being, fashion and home. You can shop by social mission, too. All Natural, Female-Founded or Cruelty Free are among the choices. A sampling is presented on the second floor.
Showfields is meant to be fun. Creativity is encouraged. There is a a cafe on the ground floor that also sells food and an exhibition space on the third that offers different community events. Vendors rotate through the space, so there is always something new to see.
Natura is a 50-year-old Brazilian brand. They had a store on Elizabeth pre-pandemic, and are now in Showfields. They offer a wide range of skin care, bath and body, fragrances and more. They find their ingredients in the rainforest, and make them into sustainable products that work and feel good.
Better Natured is another clean beauty company that focuses on hair care. Started in 1929, the brand’s products are 88% to 99% naturally derived. Products are vegan and biodegradable. Hair color is a specialty, with color, masques and creams to keep hair looking beautiful.
The Bright Side is a relaxed collection of unisex and women’s clothing. Vintagey with soft colors, slippers and comfy clothing, the looks are perfect for winter days.
Nanor specializes in soy-based candles, avocado-based body scrubs, and lounge wear. The packaging is sophisticated, and the scents appealing. They share a space with an all-white homeware line.
Marcell Von Berlin is a Berlin based designer streetwear brand for men and women. The clubby clothes were shown this week at NYFW, with help from Lady Gaga’s stylist. If making a statement is your style, these clothes are for you. The brand opened a store in LA a few years ago. Maybe New York is next?
The space for The Avid Collector houses art in many different mediums. Local artists are given a chance to sell their pieces to an audience that may never visit a proper art gallery. The sculptures in the center, Nostalgia and Good Sister, are by Jed Morfit. He also shows with several galleries around the country.
Go Smile was created by a West Coast dentist. Its products focus on teeth whitening at home for men and women. Whitening kits, toothepaste, and brushes are also sold at major retailers across the country, like Nordstrom and Ulta. You can bet that their displays are not as amusing as this one.
I love this collection of Ron Miller’s sculptural suitcases. Humor and travel is a combination that works. The Berlin based duo Marcus Kluh and Ronny Kindt started making these pieces in 2018. The Trip series mixes painting and sculpture on vintage suitcases. Travel wanderlust is their specialty. Showfields is a great concept for the age of direct-to-consumer shopping. Brands get to try out their visual brick and mortar strategies in a shared space. Hopefully more than a few of them will graduate to a real store in Noho and Nolita, or other parts of the city.
Showfields, 11 Bond Street at Lafayette Street
Walking into this space was familiar. It had been the home of the indie designers Creatures of Comfort boutique, which had closed at the end of 2018. It was always sad to walk by the empty space. Then one day the boutique was lit up again. The eco-cool sneaker brand Veja had opened. Interestingly, they pretty much kept the space the way it had been. The racks for the clothing were taken out and some sheetrock was applied, leaving the space intentionally spackled and bare. How is that for repurposing?
Veja is a Parisian brand that is sustainably produced in Brazil. On the left hand side of the entrance there is a video and a full display as to how their sneakers are made. Amazon rubber purchased from cooperatives, bio cotton for local suppliers in Brazil and Peru, and responsibly tanned leather are key.
They are happy to pay more for their raw materials, so that the farmers and growers make more. The sneakers are not sold at designer price points. And one model in three is vegan.
The wall to the right is covered in sneakers. Veja also does a lot of collaborations. Partners include Rick Owens, Farm Rio, Liberty of London and many others. They produce men’s, women’s and kids sneakers.
There are classic white runners and regular sneakers. Most have the signature V on the sides.
There are more novelty sneakers, high tops and boot-like sneakers every delivery. Colors and color blocking look great for spring. The spare and open design of the store makes socially distancing easy.
Veja, 205 Mulberry Street between Spring Street and Kenmare Street
Down the street is the new O.N.S. boutique. This is a block with lots of cool clothing for men. O.N.S. stands for one nice shirt. Shirts, housed here, were the starting point for this Hong Kong based brand.
Over the years utilitarian interesting tees and sweaters, jackets, pants, jeans and accessories have been added. The design of the store is cool. It was designed by Collective, a Hong Kong firm who worked with East Village based Tang Kawasaki Studio. The feel of the space is very organic and unique.
The Italian tile dressing rooms are larger and better designed than most dressing rooms I have seen. The hanging racks are unique. Custom made fiberglass sculptures create an interesting display.
The casual chic clothing is made with premium fabrics. This airy light-filled nook offers a variety of styles.
Back in the main room, the sculptural wool curtain drapes around the back of the shop. Knitwear, casual jackets and bags are shown here. Clean, updated classics that work together are key to this brand.
O.N.S. carries sunglasses from Article One, candles, incense matches and colognes from independant brands. There are also ceramics, including ceramic salt, pepper and spice grinders. There are books, many nature-themed jigsaw puzzles, and even O.N.S. designed greeting cards.
O.N.S., 201 Mulberry Street between Spring Street and Kenmare Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.