The West Village is practically bursting with a potpourri of small boutiques. With many new stores and brands to explore — some of which were launched as online retailers by a group of young, driven, and fashion-forward proprietors — it is delight to walk the neighborhood this time of year as the narrow streets come alive with the tender green spring leaves.
This welcome trend of online-only to brick-and-mortar retailers has given New Yorkers many new places to shop, as everyone wants to be here (yes, really!). And there are new shopping trends, too. As this new generation of designers and store owners emerge, new ideas and new ways of looking at things are showing up and showing off. It’s all good.
Sabyasachi is the bridal designer in India. Kolkata based, he has a huge facility filled with crafts-people, dressing both brides and grooms. He is also a part of Bollywood, clothing the stars in films and in real life. The store is huge, and fantastical, with corridors and rooms that were decorated by the designer with a singular flourish.
On one side of the store are rooms displaying jewelry. The cases are antique, as are the vases. Sabyasachi has done collections for Bergdorf Goodman in the past, in addition to creating bridal gowns that were sold there. The jewelry is very intricate and made from precious and semi-precious stones.
If you are a minimalist, this store might not be for you. Everything is layered. There is handmade, patterned wallpaper on the walls, with thousands of framed drawings paintings and photographs hung from floor to ceiling. Jewelry fills the decorative cases, as do objets d’art and antiques.
This case is covered in carved mother-of-pearl and is filled with more jewelry. The case is atmospherically dressed with antique bottles. Everything used to decorate the store is from India.
There are long corridors leading to cave-like rooms. The artworks were all sourced in the markets in India or created by his artistic foundation, and include Tanjor and Mughal miniatures. Rose-tinted crystal chandeliers light the entire space. Interestingly, for such a large busiess, there is no functioning website.
At the end of this corridor is a room filled with evening wear and bridal looks. It is hung by color. The clothing and accessories are made in the designer’s factory. The fabrics are artisanal and in many cases hand-woven. The elaborate embroideries and beadings are hand done and use gold threads. Sabysachi seeks out Indian craftspeople from around the country and loves finding and saving historical techniques. And much of his business is made to measure.
Brides in India do not necessarily have to wear white. But as everything in this store was created specifically for the New York store, there is plenty of white to be found.
There are elegant vests and jackets for men. Indian fashion is all about color.
Saris and the other traditional forms of Indian clothing have been upgraded with luxurious embrioderies and woven patterns. You might even find one or two solid garments. None of this is inexpensive, but it does support hundreds of talented craftspeople.
On the other side of the entrance are more rooms. This one has fitted shelves that stretch to the ceiling. The shelves are filled with embroidered accessories, clothing and a group of small leather goods and handbags with the signature logo Bengal tiger. There is much to explore and discover here.
Sabyasachi, 160 Christopher Street
A few blocks, and light-years away, Dauphinette offers happy looks in a tiny space. The shop is full of a real mix of things. The designer produces some of the clothing, but also takes interesting vintage and repurposes it and upcycles it using feathers, hand-painting, embroidery, and more.
The jewelry and some accessories are made from resins with flowers, fruits, and more embedded in them. There is also a fun collection of lights in the shape of toasts, baguettes, and croissants.
The tiny space is sectioned off with an artsy screen. Unusual bags and bits and pieces are carefully dispalyed. Vintage jewelry is offered along with the resin pieces.
Pretty much everything is only offered in one size and is one-of-a-kind. These garments are designer vintage that are then tweaked with whatever she feels like.
You will find vintage tees, but there are also some new tees that come with a lot of attitude. Some are printed with Dauphinette illustrations, and some with satirical comments. A colorful lifestyle.
Dauphinette, 60 Bedford Street
The Seven is another store full of different kinds of merch. It is primarily made up of a collection of jewelry from designers from around the world. But it is housed in a small store with a very interesting decor. The furniture harks back to a different time, before mid-century modern and super-sleek interiors dominated store design.
There are several graceful cabinets filled with different kinds of fragrances. You will also find a small, curated selection of fun sweaters and clothing. Mushrooms sweaters and clothing is a thing these days, be it magic mushrooms or some other connotation.
There are cases with sets of china in them. Racks of clothing are also dotted around the boutique. The wall paper is hand painted and the cases of jewelry sit next to a Victorian conversation chair. The cases contain a small selection of fine jewelry.
Most of the pieces are smaller scale and many of them use precious stones in unique ways. There is much to explore here.
The Seven West Village, 330 Bleecker Street
Along with sustainability, rustic DIY clothing has a certain drawing power for up and coming designers. WayForward occupies a small space, and offers a niche product. The designer partners with different artists and artisans to produce clothing finished off with craft workmanship. There is a small collection of artist-created printed tees available.
The starting point for many items are street-style hefty unisex sweats in 100% cotton. Small personalized embroideries are added to the garment. A choice of animals and phrases and sayings are available. Custom embroideries can also be created. It is all done on-site.
The embroideries comes on tees, too. WayForward also works with hand weavers in Brooklyn who create rustic patches in nubbly yarns. The patches are then hand stitched on the sweats with a running stitch.
Appliques are available in many different sizes and colors. Choose from the finished sweats in the store, or pick your own one-of-a-kind patch or patches — and mull their placement.
Customization is a thing these days. And if it supports artists and artisans, even better. The salespeople are happy to talk about who creates what, helping customers connect with product.
WayForward, 330 Bleecker Street
Dôen is a youngish brand that landed in New York a few months ago. The California based company is an adherant of the Cottage Core trend and designs often start with flea market finds. This is a lifestyle collection with a romantic vision. Ruffles, lace, and embroidery are important components.
There is plenty of lace and gentle embroidery. The fabrics are good quality, with pieces in real Liberty prints and also silks in the mix. They also offer shoes, bags, and lingerie. All with a feminine feel.
The clothing is offered in inclusive sizes, from XXS to XXL. Sustainablity and ethical treatment of the people who produce everything they sell is a focus of the company. Dôen is woman-led, and many of the factories the brand partners with are also female-owned.
This boutique prefers to use older, softer furnishings. It fits in with Cottage Core’s idealized country living philosophy. Long dresses are a thing in this boutique.
Along with many prints, there are also feminine looks in navy. The brand will do black pieces too, but not that often. The seat on the right is often filled with waiting husbands and boyfriends.
The Dôen look easily translates into clothing for young girls. Clothing is available in sizes 2 to 12, and mommy and me looks can be found here. Women can also find clothes for when they are expecting and caring for newborns. This is a very family oriented brand. Welcome to the New York family.
Dôen, 384 Bleecker Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.