There’s no better place to shop than New York in the first week of September. The weather has treated us to a heatwave and hiding in air-conditioned shops was our best option. We found the retail scene in a turmoil and transition, as New York’s rents have been steadily falling, resulting in a 12% drop over the last year and 143 locations having stood empty for at least 12 months. However, young e-com retailers are moving in to provide that vital personal touch only a physical location can!
The battle for the New Yorkers’ shopping souls is being fought at the ground level…literally, as sneakers are how the locals express their (complex) personalities.
Sassy sneakers: Sneaker worship is felt keenly in Alife, on Rivington Street, with their mahogany cigar bar ambience and a ‘private members club’ vibe. Sneakers are displayed in glass boxes like precious gems, and indeed many of the pairs really are unique. In early September the store hosted the launch of the Puma x Bradley Theodore new shoes collection, created by the much-loved NY graffiti artist. What’s on the wall should stay on the wall, except if it’s made by Bradley, as the final product looks like graffiti that simply belongs on your foot. Banksy next?
Alife also hosted Pharell Williams’ new designs, which reflect the African roots of running and use a bold colour palette with references to the desert and the jungle. Both events were packed and Alife has established itself as a go-to for sneaker worshipping.
Kith’s kit is the king: More urban style but no cigar was spotted in Kith, a premium fashion and sneaker store on Lafayette. The shop has been enlarged and refurbished so it can now offer a wider range, including for women and kids, although they do feel somewhat like an afterthought. The venue has that lingering luxury feeling, riding high on the fact that Kith’s fashion show during NY Fashion Week was simply ‘the dopest’. LeBron James and Justin Bieber both attended to see the Kith x Versace new collaboration, that was as stylish as it was respectful of the fashion maestro. Kith’s second collab with Tommy Hilfiger was just the icing on the cake.
Feminist fashion ninjas @ Bulletin: If fashion politics are your thing, then Bulletin in Nolita offers their Feminist Urban Street Fighter kit, something that in these Trumpian times has become a daily necessity for every young woman. Bulletin has started its life in humble Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, but as ‘resistance fashion’ has gone mainstream, so has the store, rolling out a new location closer to NYU students. The shop is a hub for female-led brands and distributes up-and-coming fashion from all over the country.
Inside the story: Instagram leads the trends and retail has to follow. That was the conclusion of the founder ofStory, an NY-based fashion-to-gift shop that changes concept every six weeks, collaborating with different e-com brands like Jet.com. Story closes for refurbishment and emerges in a new format with new brands to delight and surprise customers. More of a gallery than a shop, Story attracted the eye of Macy’s biz dev team and voila! They bought Story in May 2018 and the founder is now looking after bridging Macy’s liaison with new emerging e-com retailers.
Primark bites the Big Apple: New York has always been difficult ground for European retailers, but the new Primark stores at Staten Island and now Brooklyn are a resounding success. Both stores are packed from dawn till dusk as New York fashionistas discover the delights of cheap but trendy clothing. Topshopcreated similar buzz back in 2009 but had higher prices and bad luck, landing in the middle of the US recession. Primark is benefiting from the increased confidence of US shoppers and its rock-bottom pricing is something of a revelation for the locals. Besides, Primark is taking on Pink and Victoria’s Secret, with bralettes and more structured bras looking seriously on trend – and about 30% cheaper. Game on VS!
Next month we’ll be reporting from our home ground in London, as an exciting crop of new fashion stores has defied the negative high street sentiment.