New stores are still opening all over SoHo, all moving into spaces vacated by legions of brands before and mid-pandemic. These new boutiques, owned and run by families and friends, offer unique and individualistic shopping experiences. Meaning — there’s nothing cookie cutter about any of them. Lest you forget, New York remains a destination for brands to showcase their products, and it seems that 2023 will bring even more exciting shopping opportunities to the city.
But one thing is for sure: people are tired of staying home. And the hordes of tourists and residents filling the city streets and the stores uptown and down, as well as all the new restaurants and clubs that have opened, is a testament to this. Art galleries and museums have brilliant new shows. Lincoln Center is buzzing too; and Broadway is back. There is so much to look forward to in the coming year. This is no time to look back.
Staud, the L.A. “it” brand went into a space where L’Agence had been. Staud was started by two partners and first developed well-priced nicely made and designed handbags. Clothing soon followed, and it has become a real life-style brand. The store is long and airy, with different spaces to peruse.
The front and back rooms are tied together with a long corridor of clothes and accessories tucked along the walls. There is also plenty of space for mannequins displaying lots of merch.
Racks are merchandised by color story. Neutrals fill the first room and bright shades of pink and blue line the back. Looks for day and night are available, and many have vintage appeal.
Staud bags are dotted all over the store. Everything is made in small runs in the USA. There is a stylish seating area with the dressing rooms nearby, so it feels like trying on clothing in a better version of a NYC apartment — one with a huge window and lots of light.
The looks are fun, and include coats and warm sweaters. The brand may be designed and made in L.A., but it certainly works in New York.
Shoes and boots are new additions to the collection. And they are affordable, too. It’s no wonder the line is so popular. Well designed and well priced is an unbeatable combination.
Staud, 45 Greene Street
Nicolas K is owned and designed by a brother and sister. The brand strives to be sustainable, using only natural fibers and leathers. The look is urban cool and they are very serious about producing without pollution — and without sacrificing any style.
The colors are mostly muted as they work with a lot of natural colors and vegetable dyes. The shape of the clothing is drapey and free-flowing. A large case of organically shaped jewelry sits in the center of the store. Multiple plants add a punch of color.
There is currently a rail of samples for sale on the east wall with interesting bargains to be found. And the accessories include bags that have muff-like pockets in leather and sheepskin.
Nicholas K uses a lot of linens and silks for their spring range. These are found against the back wall. The shapes for winter and summer (all organic) are classic but with a twist.
The winter collection is at the front of the store and include several prints and dip dyed garments. The hand is quite warm, and always soft.
There are coats in sheepskin and leather, as well as in felty wools. Capes and unusual pieces in a thick sweat-shirting fabric are generously cut. The brand has a unique look that is very New York.
Nicholas K, 137 Grand Street
Feste is a unique sort or a boutique that opened in time for the holidays, and for year-round partying. This space had been a very special men’s boutique, but now it holds everything for entertaining. There are flowers, and vases, and seemingly anything else you might need.
There are all sorts of plates, from serious to funny, as well as a large assortment of glasses and barware, both new and vintage. Along with utensils and accessories you never knew you needed.
There are many kinds of party blowers, tons of confetti, silly hats, candles and match holders. Cake stands, serving dishes, punch bowls and more. There are invitations, thank you notes, and cook books, too.
Feste offers many options for serving and drinking champagne and wine. They also stock exotic bitters, tonics, and olive oils.
There is an adjacent space, called the Champers Social Club, where you can stop for a bit of fizz and some nibbles. Feste has a tiered pricing structure for creating parties for any occasion. You can do an event at Champers, or in the event space downstairs. This is a one-stop party central.
Feste, 39 1/2 Crosby Street
Evisu is a fashion forward Japanese denim brand, which has opened in the old Van’s store on Grand Street. Traditionally, it has been very difficult to find designs from this cult label in New York.
Denim cognoscenti know that Japan produces some of the best denims in the world, and Evisu uses them and other premium fabrics with style. The white squiggles on the jean pockets is the brand logo. It is used on many pieces in the collection.
There is an interesting collection for women that is fast selling out, along with skirts, shorts and jackets in denim, as well as jeans and tees.
The brand uses pink in ways that are not too “sweet.” Jackets are statement pieces for men and women, with cool graphics printed and embroidered onto them.
The men’s clothing also comes in interesting prints. As 2023 will be the Chinese Year of The Rabbit, there is a small collection with amusing graphics devoted to the holiday that falls on January 22nd.
Evisu, 93 Grand Street
Next door, in the space that used to house Margiela MM6, Baggu has opened. The cheerful store is replete with many printed accessories. San Francisco based, the collection started with reusable shopping bags.
The prints on recycled nylon and canvas come in many sizes and shapes of bags. From shoppers to mini zip cases, travel cases, storage cubes and more.
You will find hats, visors, and many home goods like potholders, towels and pillow cases, throw pillows and more. There are a few solid styles as well. And if you really like the prints, you can buy “wallpaper” for your phone, laptop or desktop computer.
The store was designed to display the many sizes and shapes of the bags that are offered for sale.
Baggu has also added fun patterned socks to its selection. So now they can cover fans in fun and whimsy from head to toe. The Soho store joins other branches in Williamsburg and San Francisco.
Baggu, 91 Grand Street
Another shop full of bags, Polène, a Parisian brand, has opened in a large airy space on Broadway. The bags are well designed, with the quality of expensive luxury handbags. Except, they are extremely well priced.
The family-owned business produces their bags in a small Spanish town known for its leather. They also produce belts, and some small leather goods.
Most of the bags come in 12 colors. And the shapes are interesting, as is the unique hardware. And they are butter soft to the touch.
There are several seating areas in the store so customers can relax while they are trying out the different looks. If you can’t make up your mind as to which bag to buy, just buy three or four — for the price of one typical luxury purveyor! Not a bad bargain in these days of inflation.
Polène, 487 Broadway
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.