SoHo does not yet have the changing leaves, but that may have to do more with the genus of the trees on the streets and in the shrubs and hedges of penthouse plantings. Stores here also defy expectations, as do the styles within. Many are studies in individuality — in their product, in their decor, and in their attitudes. The shops on this page are unique, charged with an owner’s point of view.
The brands come from around the world, or at least the Northern Hemisphere, and have attracted shoppers from all over North America, with a smattering from Europe and the Far East. It’s a welcome relief to hear so many languages spoken in a foreign tongue around town. SoHo is filling up fast with fun places to shop. Go see for yourself!
Toteme is a minimal, of the moment, Stockholm-based brand. The label is one of several better contemporary collections offering thought-through ease-of-dress pieces. The collection is full of signature silhouettes. The salesman above is casually elegant in the pieces he chose to wear.
The boutique is open and airy. Displays are moveable. The eccentric furniture is designed by Mats Theselius, another Swedish national, where some of the accessories are revealed.
Although the clothing is predominately neutrals, there are pops of color, like the orange tops above. Sparsely populated display racks punctuate the space.
Toteme is known for its cozy sweaters. Generously shaped, they come in a variety of warm and fuzzy yarns for fall. Large knitted shawls and shoulder warmers are also part of the design vocabulary.
Colorful print couches at the back of the shop invite customers to relax in comfort. The rack above displays many of the generous coat and jacket silhouettes. If you want chic clothing made simple, shop here.
Toteme, 49 Mercer Street
Courrèges is back in New York. The space age brand was acquired by the Pinault family’s Artemis Group in 2018. New designers were installed, and the brand has a lot of its ’60’s buzziness back. André Courrèges, who founded the label in 1961, had worked with the perfectionist, Balenciaga. The revamp keeps Courrèges’ precise tailoring intact. It’s cool to see the clean lines and well-cut armholes brought forward.
It has been hard to find the brand in New York. One or two multi-line boutiques carry it. Despite the fact that it is a fave line of many models and actresses, oddly, none of the larger stores decided to carry it. The accessories have been updated, with a nod to their past.
The boutique is tiny, but it is modelled on the Parisian flagship opened in 1971. And yes — it is Space Age. Jeans and denim jackets join the signature vinyl jackets, skirts and pants.
Courrèges was the first to do the all-white dress and suit, but the new team is not afraid of using color. And it looks great. These are statement-making pieces.
This time, there are baseball caps instead of helmets and moon-goggles. The body hugging knits, neatly folded on the shelf, are also back. As are the logo’d bags. A sleek future awaits those who shop here.
Courrèges, 104 Grand Street
A few blocks away, another sort of throwback has opened. Rowing Blazers celebrates the Sloane Ranger and Preppy life. The company started out doing new versions of classic English rowing apparel.
But the preppy vibe multiplied, begetting sweaters, polos, rugby shirts, and more. And clothing for women was added. Interested in a plaid watch band? Take your pick. They are even vintage time pieces for sale.
The boutique used to house Freeman’s Sporting Club, now located in Rockefeller Center. Rowing Blazers has a signature book, but also sells new and vintage books on the correct “prepster” style. To the left is one of their most popular sweaters. The company partnered with the original designers of Princess Diana’s Black Sheep Sweater (see the little black sheep?), Warm and Wonderful. Unsurprisingly, the knit is on constant reorder.
Other amusing sweaters include a series of astrological signs sweaters, “I’m A Luxury Few Can Afford,” and piano keys. On the right are some of the fun blazers in a variety of patterns and colors.
Around the corner, in the back, there are fabrics and badges for made-to-measure and bespoke pieces, as well as vintage. Fun and funky hats are big sellers and — if you are still wearing them — ties.
Classic pieces are available, too. Tennis sweaters and more. Rowing Blazers loves collaborating. Find collections done with Arthur Ashe, Barbour, John’s of Bleecker Street and others. The store feels very clubby, and the customers are a varied lot. Stop in.
Rowing Blazers, 8 Rivington Street
If you like big personalities, defined shapes, color and an upbeat attitude, take a look at ZCrave. This is another store with contemporary price points, and its own look. Oversize hats are one of their signatures.
The decor of the large boutique is sort of interesting. I don’t think I have ever seen cinder-block display pieces before. They can be arranged and rearranged, and display the fun bags well.
Zcrave has some signature looks, too. Defined waists is one, as are structured powersuits, pajama suits and faux fur-trimmed leather coats in a rainbow of colors. Neutrals are not easy to find here.
The coats and pyjama suits fill these racks. And the cinder blocks are used for another display piece; the printed outfit on the mannequin is geometric and bright. And there is another hat.
Most of the suits are pants suits. And they come in colorful hues. There are also suits and jackets in pastel tweeds. Print dresses and tops are also on the rails.
Platform, printed and studded shoes also make outfits pop. More hand bags are shown in the case. This DTC (i.e. direct to consumer) brand seems to be having fun with a brick and mortar store. And hey, why not?
ZCrave, 25 Mercer Street
Ferragamo has also landed in Soho. The store is fairly narrow, but deep. As you enter, the two walls are covered in women’s handbags and small accessories. Some of the pieces are made just for the new SoHo store, of which the sales people are more than happy to point out.
The colors and decor are standout. If you have been in any of the family’s collection of hotels in Florence and Rome, the artful design will not come as a surprise. Classic and dressier shoes for women are displayed in the center of the boutique.
There is a small selection of women’s clothing towards the rear of the store. More is on the way. Supply chain issues affect everyone. Larger bags for men and women are found at the very back of the store.
There is a very colorful selection of men’s clothing. A lot of what is here is swimwear, and very casual. More fall clothing will be arriving, hopefully in some of their delicious Ferragamo leather.
Men’s shoes and bags are found across from the women’s clothing. The shoes are all very classic, forming the foundation of the Ferragamo collection. Bags include pieces of luxury luggage, too.
Salvatore Ferragamo, 63 Greene Street
Alex Mill has moved off Broadway, and into a smaller, more focused boutique. There is more clothing for women than for men — now. But the same casual preppy classic with a twist vibe remains.
So does their sense of humor. Upstairs are separates, including shirts, sweaters, pants and jeans, sweats, casual jackets and accessories. Many of the styles are cut for both men and women, with different sizing.
Men’s is to the rear of the shop. The colors this season are neutral-y with some pops of orange, and pink for women. Stripes are in store this season.
Downstairs is a smaller space for women. Jumpsuits are an Alex Mill thing, with many different styles for women, and one style for men. Women even get knit jumpsuits. And they fill the lower level.
One wall features shoes and bags. Sneakers, wool sneakers, and well priced suede flats are downstairs. The men’s boots and sneakers are up with the men’s clothing. A small selection of bags is available, too. The store offers a complete head to toe wardrobe as sustainably made as possible. And stylish.
Alex Mill, 77 Mercer Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.