Respositioning SoHo’s Newest

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Spring Street is home to many new stores.

New stores and experiences keep popping up in SoHo. Some brands are returning after closing their stores during the pandemic, some are online stores transitioning, some have changed locations and redesigned their footprint, and some are pop-ups that have become permanent. Repositioning is everything these days. All but one of these brands are woman-owned and led. And they all are committed to offering their view of the best of the new.

As inflation sticks around — and some major consumer brands continue to pad their prices because they can — fashion brands are being smart about their business. They know that most customers understand the price/value ratio. And if the quality and style are not there, the customer will move on. One or two luxury brands have raised their prices to obscene levels (because they think they can, too), but their clients may feel differently about paying more for the same thing. This new collection of stores does not have to worry about this sort of persistent overcharging.

Design and customer service are also part of the equation. These brands are consistently thinking of how they can make things better for their customers. Yahoo!

Dressier Clothing Opens The Store in Soho
Dressier clothing opens Kirna Zabête.

Kirna Zabête has been in SoHo for a very long time. They moved from Broome Street to Mercer Street very recently. The store is slightly smaller, and the decor is similar to their fresh Madison Avenue location. The selection of clothing skews slightly dressier than it did in the past. That said, having been in SoHo for over 20 years, the (female) owner knows what she is doing.

Clothing Lines the Walls
Clothing lines the walls.

On Broome Street the clothing was arranged, and labeled, by designer. That has changed here. You will find things sorted more by category. Don’t fret though as all the major brands you might be looking for are still in the mix.

A Selection of Denim Is In The Back Section in Kirna Zabete
A selection of denim is in the back section.

The store is deep, and narrower. A wall with merch and dressing rooms divides it into two areas. Jeans and sneakers are found in the second section. Of course, it is a very curated selection.

Shoes and Bags In A Nook That Divides The Shop
Shoes and bags in a nook that divides the shop.

Shoes and bags are displayed around the store, and in this dedicated space of shelves. Books, fragrances, and some home decor share the shelves. Everything in the store is a must-have. All collections are tightly edited, with an eye on quality of both the product and design. Private label is being developed.

Tailored Clothing And Shirts, Along With Jewelry
Tailored clothing and shirts, along with jewelry.

There is a small selection of jewelry, just as carefully chosen as ever.  The space may be more compact, but Mercer Street is quieter than Broome Street. From Bottega Veneta to Zimmerman, the gang’s all here. That’s the beauty of multi-brand boutiques.

Kirna Zabete, 160 Mercer Street

Men's and Women's Clothing Splits The Space in Soho
Men’s and women’s clothing splits the space at Armani Exchange.

A few years ago AX Armani Exchange closed its SoHo outpost that had been a fixture for 30 years. This summer — they are back. The space is vast, with a tech feel to the design. Half the floorspace is devoted to men, and half to women. The looks are all very casual.

Really Casual Tees and Sneakers in Armani
Really casual tees and sneakers.

Jackets, tees, shirts, pants and shorts for men come in classic colors. Sneakers and hats fill the walls. The men’s clothing is often logo-driven. The prices are very reasonable for the quality sold here.

Sporty Looks and Tees for Women in Armani
Sporty looks and tees for women.

Women’s looks have logos too, but there are many pieces that stand on their own. Women are offered the choice of more colors, along with classic navy, white and black.

Jeans Are A Big Category For Armani Exchange in Soho
Jeans are a big category for Armani Exchange.

Even as super casual dressing is the core product, jeans are also an important category for men and women. The styles are well priced for designer denim. The collection has developed a street-style edge.

The Women's Clothing Is A Bit Less Casual
The women’s clothing is a bit less casual.

That said, there are also dresses and and more “designed” looks for women using prints, and a lot of color. Casual does not have to be boring. Well-priced bags and belts come in many styles, and even the sunglasses are chic and not at all pricey. Mr. Armani brings his renowned good taste to casual wear.

AX Armani Exchange, 536 Broadway

Denim and All Sorts of Sportswear
Denim and all sorts of sportswear at Oak+Fort.

Oak+Fort is back in SoHo, too. They had had a store on Howard and Mercer Streets that was a bit larger and a lot more rustic in architectural design, but that closed at the start of the pandemic. The new space is much sleeker, but the concept of the brand remains consistent and sharp.

Any Color As Long As It Is Neutral
Any color as long as it’s neutral.

The clothes are very well designed, with approachable pricing. Based in Vancouver, the business is woman-owned and run. The fabrics tend to be synthetics and cotton; and quality is there. You will find very few prints and ruffles here, just a selection of sophisticated clothes in muted colors.

Lots of Things To Stock Up On
Lots of things to stock up on.

The look is minimal. There was quite a large selection for men in the old store, but I did not see much here. There is still a lot for men on the website, so perhaps their styles will be coming back to the store.

Shoes, Bags, Accessories and Jewelry
Shoes, bags, accessories and jewelry.

There is a good, well designed collection of shoes and bags. They had a nice selection of home goods in the old stores. Hopefully those items will be back soon, too. The taste level is very high, even if price point is not.

The Store Is Popular
The store is popular.

The few times I have been in the new space, it has been full of shoppers. The clothing sells out quickly as the brand’s loyal fans rediscover the new store. There are frequent deliveries of new styles, so the racks are never bare.

Oak + Fort, 68 Spring Street

A Well-Stated Vitrine in Soho
A well-stated vitrine at Argent.

Argent is another female-owned-and-run business. The two owners and friends, coming from business backgrounds, had a hard time finding fairly priced, functional office clothing that was not dull and boring. Argent began as a direct to consumer business about seven years ago, and just added a new retail store in SoHo. Design innovation, quality and value are their mantra — even for classic, almost basic, looks.

Argent Loves Pink Right Now
Argent loves pink right now.

Tailored looks are their forte. Most of the fabrics are Italian, and most of the items are made right here in New York. The styles are updated classics, and the customers are women of all ages. Everything has a for-business edge. Pockets on the inside and outside of the jackets, cuffs that are easy to push up, pants in breathable fabrics; things like that. They even make clever reversible jackets.

Tailoring is An Emphasis Here
Tailoring is an emphasis here.

A chance meeting with Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin put the label in the spotlight, as both of them got the concept. And Jill Biden wore the label in France last month. The jackets can be worn with matching pants or skirts. There are now shirts, some sweaters, knit jackets and even trenches available.

Bright Colors Pop, And Prints Can Be Found
Bright colors pop, and prints can be found.

Neutrals are the backbone of the brand, but colors add a fun dimension. Women in the office are judged by their appearances, and Argent aims to make shopping easier and more focused on their needs.

A Very Understated Sales Desk
A very understated sales desk.

More casual categories like denim and tees are also being added. While the DTC model is working, other channels are opening up for the collection (the line can be found in stores like Nordstrom). Women of any age can wear these pieces.

Argent, 93 Crosby Street

A California Lifestyle Look
A California lifestyle look at Frankies Bikinis.

Frankies Bikinis started out as a direct to consumer business ten years ago. Founded, and run by a Malibu based mother-daughter team, the brand gained traction by partnering with celebs like Gigi Hadid, Pamela Anderson and Sophia Richie for collaborations, catching the eye of many a customer.

The Store Has A Little Bit of Everything
The store has a little bit of everything.

This location opened as a pop-up, but a few months ago they decided to stay put. String bikinis are their thing. And customers say that the suits, offered in a variety of materials, are very comfortable. They are not inexpensive, but the customers appreciate the excellent quality and fit. If a string bikini does not fit, the customer will not be back. Period.

A Wealth Of Bathing Suits To Choose From
A wealth of bathing suits to choose from.

As the business has grown, more categories have been added. There are cover-ups and dresses, as well as lounge wear. It is all designed with the same aesthetic; sexy but not vulgar.

Activewear and Clothing On Display
Activewear and clothing on display.

A wide range of colors and materials are utilized in the clothings. In addition to the usual swim fabrics, there are fun jacquards, pointelles and crochets. Basic, this collection is not.

Surf Boards and Decks Decorate the Boutique
Surf boards and decks decorate the boutique.

Everything here is for the beach, or pool, and a very relaxed lifestyle. The idea is a California lifestyle no matter where you are. They seem to be succeeding.

Frankies Bikinis, 112 Mercer Street

The Space Allows For Higher Stacks
The space allows for higher stacks at McNally Jackson.

McNally Jackson has been on a mission of expansion. The female-owned independent bookstore is becoming a chain, filling a void that existed around the city. The original location of the store was a few blocks away on Prince Street in Nolita. The new one in SoHo fills a much bigger space.

Magazines and Writing Supplies Fill The Front in Soho
Magazines and writing supplies fill the front.

Along with lots of books, there is a selection of magazines from around the world, fine writing paper, pens and pencils, and all sorts of notebooks. McNally Jackson also owns two additional stores called Goods For Study in the Village and Nolita. This section echoes the vibe of those stores.

A Little Bit of Everything, With Spaces To Read
A little bit of everything, with spaces to read.

Recently they have also opened two stores in Brooklyn. All of their locations offer a wide selection of books and ample space to browse and explore what’s in store. And every time I have been in the shop, it was full up.

Literature From Around The World
Literature from around the world and yet a cell phone still takes center stage.

McNally Jackson makes browsing easy. There are sections for so many different kinds of books. This area features literature from different cultures and languages. In addition to French, Mediterrean and Eastern literature, there is also a selection of Nordic writers.

And of Course There Are Books On Art and Fashion
And of course there are books on art and fashion.

Art, fashion and photography also have their own section. It is not art-book centric like Rizzoli, but rather a broad offering of different kinds of books. Cookbooks, travel, children’s books, and other sections fill the large space. Make browsing an art here.

McNally Jackson, 134 Prince Street

Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn. 

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