The stores that emptied out when the pandemic first arrived in SoHo are filling up again. Some are brands that have been reborn beautifully, and some are new concepts ready to be discovered. Mondays and Tuesdays may be a bit on the quiet side, but the rest of the week the area is jam packed with shoppers (and window shoppers) that it can be hard to cross the streets. New York is coming back, parties are back, and getting back to normal is feeling pretty good.
Each of these shops has a different tale to tell. And a different look to experience and enjoy. Retail evolves as a matter of fact. And the fact is there is much to discover in New York right now.
Jil Sander, the original minimalist, is back in New York. Ms. Sander sold her company to Prada in 1999 and promptly had a major falling out with Mr. Bertelli, Ms. Prada’s husband, and walked out. Prada offloaded the company, and a series of designers including Raf Simons — now working with Prada — took the helm. The brand was bought this year by OTB, owners of Maison Margiela, Marni and others. Currently, the clothes and accessories are lushly minimal and very covetable for both men and women.
Luke and Lucie Meier have been designing the line since 2018, and have successfully re-energized it.
The current store is a test for the brand. They may stay in this spot or take over something larger. The design of the store is sparse, with new, very modern deliveries rotating through the space.
The decor of the boutique is unique. Who else uses masses of dried flowers and an all-yellow interior?
Welcome back Jil Sander. You are made for New York.
Jil Sander, 96 Greene Street
A Wild Dove has landed in the space that used to house Faith Connection. Stylist Lynne Levoy launched AWD as an online shop for designers and other creators. It is a collective, rotating lab approach to fashion and lifestyle. The concept first popped up in Miami, Montauk and other hot spots.
Fashion, art and jewelry are all featured. Brands come to the store to offer activations, demonstrations, panels and customizations. R13, Baha East, Linda Farrow, Kule and more are now in store. All the art is for sale, too.
The brands in the store are available for a specific period of time. They will eventually be replaced with different designers, so there will always be something new arriving.
Ms. Levoy had a very successful summer out in the Hamptons; the party spirit continues here, with their cocktails & tunes events. The schedule is up on Facebook and Instagram. Everyone is invited.
There are funky crocheted hats from Rathat Family and jewelry from Opua and other brands.
Beauty and wellness are an important part of this lifestyle shopping experience. More than 25 brands of beauty and wellness insider-curated products are here. A Wild Dove is a community project that is a lot of fun and offers a chance to explore new ideas and indie designers, as well as established brands.
A Wild Dove, 27 Mercer Street
RtA, a LA cult jeans brand for men and women, has also landed on Mercer Street in the old Oak + Fort space. The minimally designed boutique is awash in the glow of red lights. The sparsely filled racks are a design statement. Although, much of the inventory is kept downstairs the staff is happy to brings pieces up.
There is a huge display of Baccarat crystal shards in the middle of the store. Mirrored and backlit, the crystal shards make for dramatic visual, if not jagged and a bit spooky.
I recognized many of the patterns, and hope that they were rejects. It is a fortune’s worth of glassware.
What was in stock looked very cool and lean. The signature jeans are kept mostly out of sight, but a slew of great looking sweaters, jackets, skirt and tees are on the racks. The look is tough-chic contemporary.
The men’s looks focuses on jackets, sweaters and tees, with a hip edge. Men’s jeans are out of sight, too.
The dressing rooms at the back are aglow with pink neon light. This is shopping on the edge.
RtA, 5 Mercer Street
It has been a dressed-down year, and retail giant American Eagle Outfitters has noticed. They have a new division offering premium denim that is sustainably made, offering nine fits for men and women.
Different colors and washes for sale are here. They’ve concentrated on lowering the environmental impact of the manufacturing of denim, and other pieces, by making the washes of jeans with “greener” chemicals.
The look of your jeans is determined by the fabric and how the denim is finished, or washed, to give it a distinctive look. I know some fashion insiders who specialize in developing different and unique washes for denim. There is a small section in the store that explains the different techniques that are used.
In addition to denim, fine print and solid blouses, Japanese flannel shirts and recycled cashmere sweaters are available.
The look is extremely relaxed. Vintage sweats add to the mix, too.
The store was designed to evoke the Soho neighborhood of the 1970s. The exposed brick walls and sustainable wood are proof. The managers work on laptops at the back of the store — all very 2021.
AE77, 83 Spring Street
Catbird was born in Brooklyn, and has since expanded. Most of its jewelry is made in house, in their studio (tours were available pre-pandemic). A Manhattan location has opened on Center Street in Nolita offering the same mix of delicate jewelry and quirky products that make the Williamsburg store fun to visit.
The pieces come in a wide range of prices. With stones and without. Wedding and engagement rings, and treats for oneself. The designers of the different pieces are recognized in store and online.
Catbird was one of the first jewelers to create the superfine, delicate jewelry that is Millennial friendly. One of their specialties is “zapping.” Make an appointment and pick from one of five chain styles, and the bracelet will be welded onto your wrist, or zapped. Chains are unadorned or with diamonds.
The boutique is full of treats for the home and beauty products. Candles and incense from Astier de Villate, jams and teas, journals, cosy cashmere hats and scarves, and more.
One best-selling candle is a piece of cake with a candle on top. There are other fun shapes, and novelties like croissant-shaped lamps. Eclectic cosmetics, soaps and perfumes also fill the shelves.
Catbird collaborates with different designers, and even did one with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This might be a good place to start your Holiday shopping.
Catbird, 253 Centre Street
Ferrany, London has just opened a small store on Spring Street full of soft, silk loungewear and sleepwear.
The super-casual nightgowns and pyjamas come in many different prints. Wraps and tops also come in solids. Everything is made in their silk facility in China.
Find them in London as well as New York. New prints and materials arrive all the time.
Ferrany London, 145 Spring Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.