USA: SHOP LIKE A LOCAL IN NEW YORK

When it comes to en­joy­ing a pur­chas­ing spree or three in de­part­ment stores, bou­tiques or vin­tage re­tail­ers, New York de­fines the term ‘shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence’ bet­ter than any­where.

Vacations & Travel - - Contents - BY KATE ARM­STRONG

New York de­fines the term ‘shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence’ bet­ter than any­where.

It’s fast, fren­zied and fu­ri­ous. Ex­haust­ing and over­whelm­ing. We’re not talk­ing Amer­i­can grid­iron here. But shop­ping – New York style. The se­cret of ‘shop­ping Man­hat­tan’ is to know how to ap­proach it: in small bites via neigh­bour­hoods and be­yond flag­ship de­signer stores. And def­i­nitely not (we re­peat, not) in high heels.

The fol­low­ing will help any dis­cern­ing fash­ion punter – whether you’re after funky ear­rings from an up-and-com­ing jew­eller, or a scarf from a neigh­bour­hood bou­tique – to live out your in­ner Car­rie Brad­shaw. Al­beit in slightly al­ter­na­tive, and stress-free, ways.

Lower East Side and Nolita

This com­pact grid of streets on Man­hat­tan’s lower east side is home to unique shops with one-off pieces and fash­ion-for­ward prod­ucts. This niche lo­cale, in­clud­ing Nolita, at­tracts the young, arty scene who are after be­spoke style. Not to men­tion great In­sta­gram shots; the store’s in­te­ri­ors ri­val Ma­trix movie sets.

As well as the more ‘main­stream’ brands, such as Vince, Maje and San­dro, Nolita is the spot for edgy, one-of-a-kind shops for the more fash­ion for­ward shop­per.

Crea­tures of Com­fort stocks fresh, creative pieces. The store is light and airy and very wel­com­ing, though some might con­sider the apparel on the pricey side. For stand­out pieces, Fly­ing Solo houses won­der­ful items by edgy designers.

Not sur­pris­ingly, given the youth­ful, mon­eyed clien­tele that flock to the area, skin­care stores have taken over Nolita.

The best in­cludes Credo on Prince Street, where prod­ucts are 100 per cent nat­u­ral.

For ac­ces­sories, Er­mine makes and stocks some of the most stun­ning dress jew­ellery around. The store own­ers, a creative Is­raeliFrench cou­ple, have a won­der­ful sense of style and orig­i­nal de­signs abound.

If the prices ($395 for a white t-shirt, say what?) and con­sumerism starts to get you down, head to Toms. The re­spon­si­ble mer­chan­dise de­sign – shoes and trendy eye­wear – are more ac­ces­si­ble than its

neigh­bours. A per­cent­age of Toms’ prof­its sup­port de­vel­op­ing coun­tries through do­na­tions of shoes (as well as sup­port­ing sight, water, and safe birth pro­grams). After pe­rus­ing or pur­chas­ing, be sure to sip on one of their very good cof­fees in the fab­u­lous rear court­yard (a local se­cret).

As for tak­ing time to ap­pease your in­ner in­tel­lec­tual?

Don’t miss Goods for the Study, a stun­ning store that dis­plays all things stu­dious for your stylish work­place.

SoHo

One of the first DZhoods in lower Man­hat­tan to be gen­tri­fied, SoHo, short for South of Hous­ton, is full of trendy apart­ments and bars along with the main draw­card – bou­tiques that show­case the who’s who of designers. Al­though lo­cals claim the neigh­bour­hood has lost its artis­tic edge, the cob­ble­stone streets make for pretty walk­ing and the area provides a more ‘bite-able’ sec­tion of the Big Ap­ple. While here, fol­low the sound waves to the trendy Sonos store. En­ter your per­sonal su­per­sonic booth; these are straight out of a Dr Who episode.

Had enough? SoHo is a good place to call it quits for the day. Put on your pur­chased party frock and head out for a cocktail at The Blond, an el­e­gant, al­most Bo­hemian chic lounge, in the at­trac­tive bou­tique hotel, 11 Howard.

Stroll Fifth & Madi­son Av­enues

In­cluded here only be­cause they’d be ob­vi­ous by their ab­sence are the well-known New York shop­ping land­marks: Fifth and Madi­son Av­enues. You hardly stroll here, so much as dodge the throngs. ‘Fifth’ is home to the large and chic de­part­ment stores, most of which fol­low the usual lay­out: flower-filled, cos­met­ics de­part­ments on the ground floor, women’s fash­ion on the next, and so on. Along 54th and 59th streets, in par­tic­u­lar, you can pick your way through the al­pha­bet of lux­ury, from Ap­ple to Louis Vuit­ton.

If you want to get your hands on a ubiquitous aqua bag from Tif­fany & Co., you may need to open your purse. Splurge on some­thing from their 1837 collection or a re­fined Paloma

Pi­casso piece. Al­ter­na­tively, set­tle on a snap of the build­ing ex­te­rior, a stun­ning gran­ite and lime­stone build­ing, com­plete with At­las prop­ping up a clock (this flag­ship store opened in 1940).

As for Madi­son Av­enue? It reeks of ex­pen­sive per­fume. It’s alive with furs. It rev­els in the lim­ou­sines that cruise its length. Block after ritzy block, from 53rd to 81st, it has ev­ery de­signer name you’ve ever heard of. Whether you ei­ther love it or, after an hour or so of wan­der­ing, you can’t tell a Her­mes from a Hel­mut Lang.

Malls & More

For a one-stop-shop and huge dis­counts across hun­dreds of designers, out­lets are good op­tions. Ven­ture out to Wood­bury Com­mon in New York State (yes, we’re head­ing off Man­hat­tan here; this is ac­ces­si­ble by public trans­port and tour buses).

Al­ter­na­tively, the brand new Hud­son Yards New York (cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion on the site of former rail yards), will soon fea­ture 100 shops and bou­tiques, plus restau­rants and apart­ments, all spread over a mas­sive area. While there, you can check out the be­gin­nings of the con­struc­tion of The Ves­sel. This ex­tra­or­di­nary Escher-style, ur­ban land­mark will have 154 dif­fer­ent in­ter­con­nect­ing stairs into the sky.

Thrift Shops – Vin­tage

New York is filled with a bevy of won­der­ful thrift shops and vin­tage wear. The prob­lem is know­ing how to sniff these out. The best way to get your head around qual­ity pur­chases – from Chanel hand­bags to stun­ning jew­ellery – is to head off on a tour with Suzanne Lenora of ZTrend NYC. This stylish bar­gain hunter is the near­est thing to a liv­ing New York sit­com char­ac­ter; she’ll share her favourite ‘retro se­crets’ and cur­rent hot spots (with snip­pets of local gos­sip thrown in).

An­other handy spot to know is Eye Candy, an accessory trove on W 23rd Street, run by the very creative, former jew­eller, Ron Cald­well. Pick up a 1950s waist-nipped frock for $60 or a black patent vin­tage hand­bag for $50.

Mu­seum Shops

Let’s face it: even the most sea­soned of shop­pers can get ir­ri­tated by over-zeal­ous shop as­sis­tants. And there’s plenty of them here. For a break from per­fume push­ers, head out and get some cul­ture at New York’s in­cred­i­ble mu­se­ums and en­joy a pur­chase or three while you’re at it. The stores at the Metropoli­tan Mu­seum show­case ev­ery­thing from David Hock­ney posters to Rus­sian Im­pe­rial cuff­links. As well as within the fab­u­lous mu­seum, it­self, MoMA has a MoMA De­sign Store lo­cated on Spring Street, Nolita. Here, you can pick up the likes of mod­ern de­sign wares, Frank Lloyd Wright play­ing cards and Andy Warhol pop art-in­spired sun­glasses.

Else­where, in the Meat­pack­ing District (at the south­ern end of NY’s High Line), the gallery shop in The Whit­ney Mu­seum sells ob­jets d’art and items with de­signs of high-pro­file artists. Grab some hi­lar­i­ous stick­ers by car­toon­ist Gemma Cor­rell, or

an el­e­gant silk ki­mono with a rail­road sunset de­sign, in­spired by Edward Hop­per. The stun­ning New York Public Li­brary is the place to buy your (taste­ful) sou­venirs, from New-York themed tea tow­els to funky books on the city.

‘Out There’ – Happening Concept Stores

DOVER STREET MAR­KET

One of the most high-end ‘mar­kets’ in the fash­ion world,

Dover Street Mar­ket oozes ex­clu­siv­ity, but is a mag­net for the cool kids. Owned by Ja­panese la­bel, Comme des Garçons, it’s actually not a mar­ket at all, but a tall, slim build­ing (for­merly it housed New York School of Ap­plied De­sign for Women). In the mid­dle of its seven floors runs a glass el­e­va­tor through which you can watch the action. And clients def­i­nitely come here to be seen. (Read ul­tra-hip concept and price tags that burn; these in­clude global de­signer brands for men and women).

As for its own apparel? Put it this way: if you don’t know the avant-garde Comme des Garçons when you en­ter, you will by the time you leave. Think whim­si­cal Alice in Won­der­land­meets-punk, where pockets and sleeves ap­pear where you least ex­pect them. These de­con­structed pieces are quirky and oh so fun (at the time of writ­ing The Metropoli­tan Mu­seum de­voted an en­tire ex­hi­bi­tion to the la­bel).

After all, you don’t cut it these days in New York if you don’t leave an im­pres­sion. En­ter Story, one of the most cut­ting-edge re­tail con­cepts around. Lo­cated in Chelsea, the in­stal­la­tions of Story change reg­u­larly. In its words, it fol­lows the trend or theme of a mag­a­zine, and yet sells mer­chan­dise. (Un­for­tu­nately, at the time of writ­ing, their store pages were blank; they were cre­at­ing a new story).

Open­ing im­age: Pretty window dress­ing at Alice and Olivia, Nolita. This page, clock­wise from right: Window shop­ping store­front; Sonos Store Soho; Er­mine.

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