Recently, five different designers with five different points of view unveiled new boutiques in lower Manhattan. From spare and moody to über-colorful, they offer starkly different visions. That’s a good thing in a diverse and vibrant city where myriad style viewpoints abound. So is the astonishing number of stores that are available to New York’s shoppers!
The new brand to wear, Khaite, opened a minimal industrial-chic boutique in what used to be a parking garage. The striking space was conceived by the designer’s husband, who is an architect. The natural light in the boutique has a misty feel to it, as design is on the dark side, with minimal lighting. It makes the looks seem a little mysterious.
As it was once a garage, the interior was a blank canvas. Now it is defined by curving pieces of steel, rather Richard Serra-like. The clothes that hang on either side of the panels are predominately black, white and neutrals. The lines are clean, and none of the clothing is fussy. They very well might be the must-have pieces you have been looking for.
Both sides of the boutique have clean, defined display areas for accessories and shoes. They are the key pieces for commerical success of any brand these days.
There is nothing over-the-top clothingwise here. And that is just what the 2022 CFDA award winning designer wants. Quiet perfection. Women were missing clothes like this; and they are loving the looks.
There is an original skylight at the back of the store that sheds daylight on the large room. The dressing rooms are back here, and are perhaps the only thing I do not understand. They are lit with full-on red lighting. Not the easiest way to see how the clothes look.
There is also a sculptural room off the main space that highlights all the shoes and boots. The store is a design statement in every way. Nothing is crowded here, and all is good.
Khaite, 165 Mercer Street
Retrofête offers a completely different philosophy and vibe. Designed by two guys, the looks celebrate a more is more ethos, full of color and bling. The look is fun and festive.
Retro and fête are combined to mean a vintage party. There are many vintage references, from the jeans to the dresses. The designers have never met a sequin that they don’t love. And the sequins love them back. The looks are high-low, meaning that dress-down denim works with high voltage tops and dresses.
There is a large collection of white looks that brides seeking unconventional wedding dresses are gravitating to. It’s a new world. Feathers are big this year, and you will see plenty of them here.
Since many of the looks are for occasion dressing and weddings, there are look books and stylists to help refine choices. This couple was seeking wedding looks. There are not many stores or brands that offer unconventional bridal styles.
There are casual looks, too, like these very wide jeans. You will also find jean tops, jumpsuits and dresses. Of course, there is denim embellished with beading; and even jeans with ostrich trim.
Sparkly bags and jewelry are also a high point. Festival dressing or festive dressing. It is all served up with colorful panache.
Retrofête, 99 Spring Street
Piombo, an Italian brand owned by cheap and cheerful power brand OVS, has just entered the U.S. market. Conceived by designer Massimo Piombo, the store is well priced and extremely colorful.
There are plenty of prepsters in Italy, and these clothes are designed with them in mind. Color reigns supreme here. There is a wide range of looks for men and for women. Women’s is on one side of the store, and men’s on the other.
Everything is very casual. Slacks, shirts, sweats, sweaters, jacket and blazers can all be mixed together for a variety of clean looks. All neatly tailored with an Italian je ne sais quoi.
Women also can choose from dresses and skirts along with the other categories. Small accessories including bags, hats, and colorful socks are on display around the store. These are basics with flair.
If you ever wondered how Italian men learned to expertly drape their sweaters over their shoulders, this would be a place to start. And their shackets — shirt jackets, of course — come in bright colors as well as neutrals.
There are denims and colored denim in many shapes, too. It is interesting to see the bright colors against the bright blue of the store’s interior. New deliveries arrive regularly.
Piombo, 149 Spring Street
Another Italian brand, Pinko, has new quarters around the corner. They had been in a three-story Federal brick house on Spring Street. A dispute with their ex-landlord led to a relocation to Wooster. While the old space was charming, the new one seems larger.
The store is as colorful as the clothing. There are tailored pieces and interesting separates. Handbags and small leather goods are dotted around the store. Many are done in pink this season.
The brand also does jeans, tees and sweaters. Everything has an urban chic edge, with a younger feel. There are plenty of dressy looks, too.
Jackets and suits come in solids and prints, and different fabrications. There are plenty of tops to round out an outfit. Blouses and tops have interesting cuts and draping, and are on the sexy side. They can take a suit in a different direction.
Pinko’s circular logo of two birds is used on the bags and belts. Sneakers, heels and boots come with and without logos. Everything is young and fun, and not too serious.
Under the skylights at the back of the store, you will find the pieces for evenings. There will be three or four styles in each delivery, and new styles arrive all the time.
Pinko, 120 Wooster Street
Elyse Walker has opened her first store outside of California on North Moore Street. The boutique stocks designer and contemporary looks by brands ranging from Alexander McQueen to Zimmerman, and everything in between. The looks stocked are a bit more formal than what you will see in other designer price-point multi-brand boutiques in New York.
The store is packed and a staff of stylists will help you assemble a rounded wardrobe. The looks here tend to be a little more mature.
There is much to choose from. It is almost a bit daunting to sift through everything that is on the shelves and racks. Merchandise seems split into different areas by category; accessories, daytime ensembles, evening looks, and jeans and super-casual pieces.
Styles are not hung by designer, so you’ll have a blast if you like to hunt through racks to find your look. Maybe that is why the stylists are available, as they know what (and where) is in the store.
The back rooms are where you will find the super casual looks. Ms. Walker also offers private label, like the silk shirts hanging here, or tees and sweaters. A selection of fine jewelry is displayed as well.
Casual sweaters are here every season, merchandised with a selection of sneakers and boots. Prints and patterns are important in the casual clothing, too. A Southern California vibe has arrived in New York.
Elyse Walker, 39 North Moore Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.