Nolita is a mecca for emerging brands and small boutiques. It has always been a residential area, in contrast to SoHo’s “industrial” past. In the early 19th century, it was an enclave of wealth. The tree-lined streets crowded with houses and tenements are on a much smaller scale than SoHo. And because of this, the ground floor retail spaces are on the small side. The spaces are less expensive and don’t come with soaring 20-foot ceilings that make the spaces less intimate. That suits many businesses just fine as the boutiques in Nolita have a more personal touch. Typically, the larger, more well-established brands prefer SoHo, but many designers prefer the charm of Nolita.
And the stores just keep on opening. Rents are down from pre-pandemic highs and customers would rather see the merchandise in person. The newest shops in Nolita are a varied lot, offering a little bit of this and that; served with a side of attitude dusted with style.
Wesh showcases a little bit of everything. Started as a popup in 2021 by a French Tunisian designer, its permanent store opened recently in Nolita. It offers collections from emerging designers, vintage, and select items for the home. The name comes from French urban slang and is equivelent to “Yo”.
Clothing sits with many jewelry collections, bags, clothing, sunglasses and more. All of it is unique, as it comes from under-the-radar creators.
If you are a hat lover, there are many different styles to be found. And if you love fungi, you can get many sizes of them covered in disco-mirrors, or in the form of a lamp. The artisan who makes the mirrored pieces will also take special commissions.
From denim pieces trimmed in rhinestones to a selection of bathing suits, there is newness. You will find several different shoe collections as well.
There is a curated corner offering vintage clothing. These pieces are on the dressier side, and are all unique. The feather hat is a fun statement piece.
Each rack displays pieces by different designers. The leather jackets at the back are classic. The best thing about the shop is just being able to poke around and find pieces you won’t see coming and going.
Wesh NYC, 242A Elizabeth Street
Never Fully Dressed is a British brand that just opened a NYC flagship. Everything is designed in Britain, and the merchandise has a cohesive look.
The prices are affordable, and they offer sizes 2 through 24. The collection is dress-centric and consists of tons of different prints — many designed in-house. There are some skirts and pants, often paired with matching tops. The brand is customer-centric, and the store is full of fun objects.
There are not many brands that do fun fashion clothing, as opposed to basics, that are so size inclusive. These clothes are anything but basic. They lean towards a romantic look, actually.
There is lots of color here. And if color isn’t your thing, there is always black.
This is a store full of engaging details. The photo booth is a playful touch. I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of styling the Fall and Winter collections brings.
Never Fully Dressed, 243 Elizabeth Street
Dinner Service NY is an artist-driven store with a mission. They make what they call “no-harm garments” — using organic or recycled cotton, or other eco-friendly material, and manufacturing in a friendly, sustainable way.
The brand works with different artists and does releases. The artwork is quirky and amusing. The Fish sweatshirt above has nicely detailed embroidery. Artist-created prints and embroideries are mainstays.
The small store resembles a clubhouse. The bar is functional.
The unisex styles can be worn by men and women, with styles cut in cropped and regular lengths. Vinyl is a thing here. And the music played in the store varies greatly.
Photos, books, collectibles and knickknacks fill the walls and line the shelves. As with other stores in Nolita, it’s the personal touches that set it apart.
Dinner Service NY, 259 Elizabeth Street
I had first encountered Res Ipsa when I was in Malibu this spring. And then I discovered that a store had just opened in New York. It is smaller than the Malibu branch, but packed with lots of interesting merchandise. Some of it is similar, but much is different. The faux taxidermy is a playful touch.
The small boutique is jammed with lots of merch, from kimonos to souvenir jackets and so much more. The newest pieces have patches of vintage quilting used as decoration on new garments.
A blazer made of quilted patterns paired with vintage, decorated jeans makes a statement. The clothing is all manufactured in Morocco, and makes use of a lot of embroidery and hand embellishment. Moroccan rugs and pillows made from Moroccan fabrics are on display around the boutique.
There is a wall of shoes and slippers to choose from, all very colorful. An artistically distressed leather jacket sits above another pair of patched vintage Levi’s.
Bags are plentiful. Straw, kilim, leather totes and bags, and more fill the space. You will find lots of one-of-a-kind pieces. Jewelry comes in the form of beaded bracelets and necklaces. Small does not have to be boring.
Res Ipsa, 259 Elizabeth Street
The perfectwhitetee boutique is (surprise) full of well made, basic tees. The enterprise is a family-owned, L.A. based company that manufactures its own fabrics and garments. Basics rule here.
Their fabric is made from combed cotton. Since the factory is family owned, which contains its own knitting machine, quality control is — well — easy to control. Basic tees in a wide range of colors are not necessarily hard to find. But finding ones where the fit is pondered and tweaked, and quality come first, can be.
And despite the name, not all the tees are white. There are tank tops and short and long sleeve tees in a range of colors. Some bottoms and lounge wear are also available.
There are even a few stripe tees, and a small collection for men. It offers quintessentially Los Angeles looks that can work well in New York. Choose from a solid base for comfortable lifestyle clothing.
perfectwhitetee, 262 Elizabeth Street
Around the corner is another interesting boutique with a completely different sensibility. At The Venue showcases many different designers offering different categories. Knitwear is a focus here.
As are upcycling; and bags. The bags at the left are upcycled. Collections of jewelry and home decor can also be found.
There are lots of different knits, and they are produced by designers based all over the world. The space is a sort of collective. Open and airy, there is a patio at the back of the store.
Scarves made in the form of double face tape measures are best sellers. They come in several sizes and colors. As new collections are added all the time, the product mix evolves.
The flowered tote bag is also a best seller. The designers here understand their clientele. Now, that’s just good business.
At The Venue, 260 Mott Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.