New York is always rearranging itself. Where we live, shop, eat and socialize change regularly. It’s like the weather: 66 degrees one day and 30-something the next. As we head towards spring, almost every neighborhood in the city is sprouting stores and restaurants. The city is a stew of new ideas. New Yorkers will not be homogenized. Just as you can pretty much sample any of the world’s cuisine in New York, the same goes for genres of clothing. Some of the newest stores in Soho come from a variety of countries including France, Sweden, Italy, Canada, and New York. Each brand has its own style and DNA, and they celebrate what is unique.
Who doesn’t love a store with a canine welcoming committee? And when the store has cool merch and a good back-story, it is even better. OTD has opened on West Broadway and Spring Street in the space that used to house D2. I wondered who owned this business as there was nothing on their website. But on a second visit I spotted the designer John Varvatos working on putting looks together on mannequins. Voila! John left his rock-based menswear collection, John Varvatos, in May 2020 to pursue other projects, and was purchased by private equity firm Lion Capitol. The original business, with its New York store located in what was CBGB, is still rocking.
OTD, or On This Day, has a completely different DNA. There is now a women’s component (it’s about time) and a much younger, relaxed take on fashion. It’s casual. stretchy, unisex. Comfort and fit count.
As with most designer clothing labels these days, spring merchandise is only slowly arriving. Supply chains issues and shipping are hitting every business. The store is a mixture of fall fashion (on sale now) and new spring clothing and accessories. Although the look leans young, the classic pieces can be worn by every age.
The back half of the store features the men’s wear. Some styles are made for both sexes. The clothing is well made using good quality fabrics. Gone is the distressed, rich rock look, replace by a fresher vibe.
There is athleisure for everyone. A capsule sneaker collection is available, as are silver accessories and jewelry. Where the Varvatos store was dark with guitars and record jackets for decor, OTD is a wide open space full of minimal fixtures and photographs.
OTD is a modern lifestyle brand. From buttery leather jackets, perfectly cut blazers and pants, sweaters shirt and tee shirts to sweats, it all works together. Nice to see a new brand born from the trials of COVID.
OTD, 402 West Broadway
Diesel, the Italian denim house that is part of Renzo Rosso’s OTB group (think Margiela, Marni, Jil Sander and more), had vanished from NYC in 2019. Diesel USA, the American branch, declared bankruptcy. It’s complicated, I suppose. After going through several creative directors, Glenn Martens, of Y Project fame, was hired to revamp the label in 2020. And he did. Its new store, located in an old John Varvatos space, funnily enough, is the first designed by Martens. It is a new concept.
The new men’s collection is more deconsructed than it used to be, using innovative fabrications. Classic jeans remain, but there is a lot more here than just denim. Sneakers and boots are also amped up.
Coats, jackets shirts and tees are tweaked to perfection. And so are the accessories. Everything stands out against the minimal red and white walls. A glowing digital mural at the back of the store shines.
The women’s collection is located downstairs. Spring is a bit slow coming in, but what is here looks great. Men and women share innovative fabric developments, sometimes with unisex styles and sometimes with different ones. Jeans hang in front of the digital mural that morphs from a seascape to a huge logo.
Puffers with attitude and tees hang with assymetric skirts. Bags, boots and accessories line the back wall. The exposed brick walls are a contrast to the high tech clothing.
Mr. Martens applies his design chops to cool coats for pups, too. Why not? The international press has given the revamp a rave review. It’s great that Diesel is back in New York with a new and very updated look.
Diesel, 122 Spring Street
Ron Dorff has landed in New York. The clothing and accessories for men are clean and athletic. The fit is sharp and body-con. The owners are French and Swedish and the design sensibility melds the two.
They offer many statement tees. And they believe in Discipline. Their motto is “Discipline is Not A Dirty Word.” The decor is also disciplined. Subway tile walls and tiled floors give it a bath-house feel.
Garments are made for toned bodies. Simple and well cut, the brand prides itself on using the best material and workmanship. They also have a collection of underwear, and do a skin care range.
This spring the emphasis is on clothing that is tennis pro chic. Shorts, tees and polos abound. The clothing is as clean as the store decor.
Video screens display moving images of the collection. Knitwear, whether tees or sweaters, is a major focus here. The colors are classic brights, with lots of navy thrown in.
Swim wear is also offered in all the spring colors. The solid and striped pieces are on the back wall. Tables around the store are covered in cool hoodies and tees. Let your sporty spring start here.
Ron Dorrf, 475 Broome Street
French brand Officine Generale has opened its first US store in Soho. The spring collections for men and women are arriving weekly. The brand first opened in Saint Germain des Pres in Paris ten years ago.
The men’s leans on workwear for inspiration, but offers a lot of soft tailoring. The clothing is comfortable and timeless. The fabrics are from Britain, Japan and Italy. Everything is made in France. There are core pieces that repeat every season in different colors. The brand aspires to beautiful normality.
If you hurry there are a few racks of fall pieces on sale. The coats, sweaters and shirts have that cool French style. Their classic fine wale corduroy jeans are a classic must have, as are the inventive shirts.
The woman’s collection is at the back of the store. In the middle is a group of elevated basics.
The women’s wear is also user-friendly. The clothes are fairly conservative and classic. Something that is difficult to find these days. Nothing is too short, or too tight. It’s just right.
Softly tailored jackets, skirts, blouses, skirts and pants come in many neutral shades. There are also buttery leather jackets and coats. The trenches are cut with special details. If you want a little Left Bank attitude — this is where to shop.
Officine Generale, 220 Lafayette Street
John Fluevog has been selling original and quirky shoes for over 50 years. His store is still on Prince Street, but it is now in a bigger and brighter space with great display. The designer started doing shoes in 1970, in Vancouver. The New York shop first opened in 1990. His stores are all over the US and Canada, and in Australia and Europe. He is still selling some of the styles of shoes that he designed in the ’70s.
Fluevog has a lot of devoted followers. In the past, customers included musicians from the Seattle grunge bands to Madonna-in-the-day. Many wore his shoes and boots. They are colorful and mostly highly decorated. The purple embroidered boot at top is part of the new Jimi Hendrix collection.
Handbags were added a while ago. The shapes are varied, as are the decorative effects used on them.
If you are looking for black shoes, you won’t find them here. Color is key. As is mixing colors and using prints on shoes. The website also offers a shoe exchange for previously loved boots and shoes.
Fluevog’s eye for color is also apparent in the brighly colored scarves in many different prints.
Belts, bags, small leather accessories come in many sizes and shapes. If you like colorful patterned socks, you will find a big selection. Mr. Fluevog has always thought larger than life.
Fluevog, 67 Prince
Alexis Bittar is back in Soho, too. The space is different, but the cases are the same. Different vintage pieces here mix with the new jewelry, just as they do on Madison Avenue. How many stores did he open?!
The vintage decor is, of course, one-of-a-kind. The new pieces are here too, and will continue to evolve. As we emerge from the pandemic, retail and restaurants are taking advantage of the new lower rents; and flourishing.
Alexis Bittar, 65 Prince Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.