Rockin’ Rockefeller Center Retail

Featured image
New brands in the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center.

There is one constant in fashion. It changes. Constantly. We have been bombarded by change over the last year and a half — including some very positive changes.

For example, I was thrilled to learn that Pineider — the Italian purveyor of writing papers — had opened a boutique in Rockefeller Center. I also discovered that Tishman Speyer, owner of most of Rockefeller Center (and all the commercial spaces), was up to something new. I knew that some MOR chains had been anchors of the center for many years. I do still visit Anthropologie now and then, but the other chains don’t really interest me these days.

I was surprised to discover that Tishman Speyer has brought a large handful of small, interesting brands into the complex. And that they were working out deals so that the rents would not be onerous. I’ve even heard that some of the store owners are paying a percentage of profits as rent. I applaud large companies for investing in smaller, vibrant ones that one day might grow and fill the other properties they own and operate. Apparently, more stores are coming and bringing with them an interesting new vibe to the area. The Farmers Markets and Flea Markets by the rink are also a welcome addition.

Thankfully, restrictions on travel to the United States by fully vaccinated foreign tourists will be eased in November. Historically, scores of tourists flock to Rock Center for the architecture, skating rink, and the other attractions of the Art-Deco masterpiece. And like us, they will soon be greeted with these appealing new retail concepts and hopefully spend and support the new shops.

A View of the Boutique and Bags
A view of the boutique and bags at Pineider.

Pineider, the Florentine purveyor of luxury pen and fine stationery, has been around since 1774. Their historic boutique had always been one of my favorite stops in Florence. And I considered myself lucky to still have a few boxes of notecards left after the company almost went into liquidation prior to 2017. Pineider is now open in New York with an intriguing design, and lots of goodies. Although, with the NBC store in the concourse visible through the interior windows, the visuals send mixed messages. Seth Meyers is not necessarily endorsing Pineider! But the contrast of vintage cases against more modern walls brings with it a bit of Florence in New York.

Pens and Writing Paper
Pens and writing paper.

Since its recent troubles, the Rovagnati family has invested in the brand and thankfully brought it back to life. The collection of luxury writing instruments has grown. The prices go from affordable to very expensive, depending on the material. The writing cards and papers and notebooks are in the cases at the back.

The Chic Travelling Desk
The chic travelling desk.

I love the Travel desk set. Papers, inks and pens (with 14 nibs) are all included. The leather and wood case folds up and resembles a briefcase. A very extensively loaded briefcase. It can all be personalized, too.

Writing Paper and Leather Accessories
Writing paper and leather accessories.

The Pineider Express is a novel idea. Select your paper or note card, and write a message. The artists of Pineider will then render your message calligraphically, and send it to your recipients. Chic!

A Machine for Embossing Leather
A machine for embossing leather.

This machine can personalize all the leather goods in the store. Paper products can all be personalized, too. The store also does custom invitations and announcements. My wedding invites were from Pineider!

Back Packs and Briefcases
Back packs and briefcases.

Pineider has always offered leather notebooks and writing pads, but what is new to Pineider are the leather goods. Stylish backpacks, briefcases and document holders are more reasons to be extremely happy that Pineider is back in New York .

Pineider, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 49th Street

An Unexpected Entrance
An unexpected entrance to Rough Trade Records.

After I left Pineider, I headed over to Sixth Avenue and stopped dead in my tracks. Rough Trade Records? In Rockefeller Center? It seems so. I knew vinyl wasn’t dead, but I hardly expected to find a branch here. Started in England in 1978, a Williamsburg branch and music venue had opened in 2013. The original location was closed this spring, and the chain is now in Manhattan.

The Rough Trade Experience
The Rough Trade experience.

Rough Trade sells an experience. The music goes from classical to hip hop, with everything in between.

Records and Cassettes
Records and cassettes.

Used vinyl is the mainstay of the store; cassettes too. But seemingly no CDs. The decor is clean and modern with a very cool collage-painted floor.

Hip Hop, Pop, Blues and More
Hip Hop, Pop, Blues and more.

There are new releases on vinyl these days. Several record pressing plants have opened up. The store also does a podcast; hopefully its live events will be returning soon.

Books on Many Subjects
Books on many subjects.

The selection of books is interesting, and not what you will find in the few book stores left in New York.

A Small Selection of Clothing
A small selection of clothing.

A small selection of clothing fills one corner. Obviously rock-related. If records and music are your thing, this is definitely a store you need to visit.

Rough Trade, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Sixth Avenue

The Freeman's Look
The Freeman’s look.

You may know Freemans, the hip downtown restaurant located in Freeman’s Alley off Rivington Street, and you might have heard of Freemans Sporting Club, on Rivington. If you haven’t, now is the time to discover the shop. This particular itieration specializes in made to measure and made to order clothing. Taavo Somer, the creator of both, was profiled in the 3 October New York Times Styles section.

A Small Selection of Ready To Wear
A small selection of ready to wear.

The shop is tiny. But it has the signature taxidermy, and other Freemans codes. There is a very small selection of off-the-peg clothing, but not all sizes are available. They are available downtown. The clothing is Somer’s hip take on suits and American sportswear classics.

Real Sewing Machines
Real sewing machines.

It is amusing to see actual sewing machines in a window that looks out onto the interior shopping mall of Rockefeller Center. There is a resident tailor to take measurements and provide fittings for the custom looks. The machines are used for touch-ups, adjustment of made-to-measure, and repairs. The books of suiting and shirting fabrics on the shelves to the left are available for the custom clothing.

Custom Made Shirts
Custom-made shirts.

The models of the suits hang below the choices of collars for the custom-made shirts. Mr. Somer sold the clothing line to a Japanese manufacturer a few years ago, but the quality and taste remain the same.

Freemans Sporting Club, 55 West 49 Street

Clean and Cool Home Decor
Clean and cool home decor.

CÔTE À COAST is a tiny store with very cool thing for men and the home. It is a curated lifestyle store. The original store is on the Bowery in Noho. It is full of tops, accessories, textiles, ceramics, glass, baskets, floor coverings, throws, pillows and more.

Shirts, Sweaters, and Tee Shirts
Shirts, sweaters, and t-shirts.

The clothing is men’s only, but some could work on women. The products are sourced from around the world, the U.S.A., Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. The shop is concise and to the point.

CÔTE À COAST, 620 Fifth Avenue, on the Channel Gardens

A Colorful Style
A colorful style at Dauphinette.

Dauphinette bills itself as having a very happy vibe. And it does. The owner, Olivia Cheng, started her brand by repurposing vintage furs and hand painting pieces of clothing. She has an artistic touch, and she actually hand painted all the walls in the boutique as well as designing the collection’s prints.

Casual Clothing and Bags
Casual clothing and bags.

The bags and tops on the left are composed of actual fruits, flowers and leaves encased in resin. Ms. Cheng’s happy looks are included in the Met’s current In America: A Lexicon of Fashion. Her first store is located on Bedford Street in the Village. It is easy to stand out in these pieces.

Whimsical Jewelry and Bags
Whimsical jewelry and bags.

Whimsical hats, feathered bags and other accessories round out the selection. A collection of jewelry done in the nature-filled resin is a lot of fun. As are the shoulder bags in the shape of heeled boots.

Dauphinette, 610 Fifth Avenue, on the Channel Gardens

Looking Towards The Back of The Boutique
Looking Towards The Back of Jill Lindsey.

Jill Lindsey calls her Fort Greene flagship a department store. She is not wrong. This new shop is larger than many of the others, and carries many categories. The back of the shop also looks into the NBC store in the concourse. Pretty much everything is made by local artisans in Brooklyn and from around the world.

A Rack of Curated Vintage
A rack of curated vintage.

A rack of clothing from the sought after vintage dealer James Veloria has pieces from Geoffrey Beene, Donna Karan, Versace, and more. It’s easier to come here than to get to his namesake store downtown.

Jewelry and Clothing With A View of Radio City
Jewelry and clothing with a view of Radio City.

The front of the shop looks out onto Radio City Music Hall. There is plenty of jewelry, as well as lots of casual clothing. Everything has a wear-now vibe.

A Clean Open Space
A clean open space.

Wellness is important here. The Brooklyn store also has a coffee and wine bar, and hopefully Jill Lindsey will move into a larger space in Rockefeller Center and add a cafe, as well as offer workshops for floral design, macramé, breathwork and other disciplines. The idea is to build a community.

Handbags and Tarot Readings
Handbags and tarot readings.

Pillows, napkins, ceramics for the home, and rugs sit among artisanal handbags. Tarot readings are available in the Fort Greene store. The sign on the right indicates that they may soon be coming to midtown; making Manhattan a bit more personalized.

Cosmetics and Tableware
Cosmetics and tableware.

The boutique offers many different fragrances, bath and body, beauty, candles and skin care. Interesting teas, chocolates, bitters, and supplements are also for sale.

Clothing and Greeting Cards
Clothing and greeting cards.

Another department has books, with a nice selection of themed greeting cards and notebooks. There is a little bit of everything here.

Jill Lindsey, 30 Rockefeller Center, at 50th Street

Art and Design
Art and design at Kule.

Kule started as a children’s brand and has since added men’s and women’s clothing. The look is spare, clean and stripe-loving. Owner and designer Nikki Kule had a DTC (Direct to consumer) business, and sold major retailers.

Note Cards and a Striped Inspiration
Note cards and a striped inspiration.

She now has her own store. And you can see where her “stripe inspiration” came from. Kule also does collaborations with different companies. Notecards with Dempsey and Carroll is one, as is a tote done with Air Mail.

Clothing Faces the Gardens
Clothing faces the gardens.

The clothing is basic with a twist. Sustainability counts, so organic cotton and biodegradable washing is important. The new store is a great step forward.

Everything is Striped
Everything is striped.

The decor is clean and striped. Tees, sweats and some sweaters are the big sellers. But you will also find outerwear and dresses for women, and tees, jackets and outerwear for men.

Kule, 610 Fifth Avenue, on the Channel Gardens

The Front of The Jewel Box Boutique
The front of the jewel box boutique at Swarovski.

Swarovski, the Austrian manufacturer of crystal jewelry and trims, has moved into a poison green boutique in the complex. The color is unusual, as the Soho branch is a pink-beige.

The Birds and a Bust
The birds and a bust.

The jewelry is displayed on walls built of rounded, padded jewelry trays. Very clever. It really draws you in.

A Corner of The Boutique
A corner of the boutique.

The crystal swans, a brand signature, dot the walls. A large collection of jewelry is displayed. Crystal birds, faces, hands and busts punctuate the display modules. If you need some sparkle, Swarovski is the answer. The unusual presentation makes looking for pieces a lot more fun. Enjoy the puzzle.

Swarovski, 620 Fifth Avenue, 212-332-4300

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

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