Lower East Side Shops
29 Prince St., New York
Cuyana has long been our go-to for small leather goods (shout-out to one particularly great Marie Kondo jewelry box collaboration). For their East Coast flagship, cofounders Karla Gallardo and Shilpa Shah took everything they knew from years of hosting pop-ups and created a pale-pink minimalist space. Visitors have the option of using small blocks shaped like laptops, water bottles, and cell phones to get a sense of a bag’s weight and look when it’s full of their personal items. There is also an in-store monogramming station—which is great if you’re in need of a quick, functional gift—and a well-edited clothing selection: silk camisoles, classic V-necks, and long, loose cardigans, all arranged by color.
CW Pencil Enterprise
15 Orchard Street, New York
As far as specialty shops go, CW Pencil Enterprise is downright granular. It’s shoe-box sized and therefore really easy to miss, so keep an eye out for the pencil drawing, which the owner, Caroline Weaver, put up in lieu of traditional signage. Inside, the floors are black-and-white checkered, and the shelves are lined with neatly labeled jars of pencils and on-theme art. Make good use of the pencil-testing station, which is set up on a Mid-Century desk and topped with vintage-looking sharpeners and old-school notebooks, while the staff (it’s usually Weaver herself manning the store) drop knowledge about each pencil’s provenance, history, color, and optimal use. CW carries amazing stationery brands like Craft Design Technology, Tombow, and Field Notes; and then there’s the Pencil of the Month club and custom pencil services, which the owner fulfills herself by hand with an antique hot foil press.
190 Bowery, Lower East Side
Totokaelo originated as a Seattle-based boutique (and online shop) renowned for contemporary clothing and artful objects (with a curatorial eye that skews largely monochrome/black-and-white). Its New York store, their first/only East Coast brick-and-mortar, is like a really impressive home: the naturally lit, five-storey, 8,400-square-foot brick building used to be an artist’s residence. There is a lot to process in here, but all of it is pretty much guaranteed to be fashion-insider chic: from their in-house label to brand like Vetements, The Row, Maison Martin Margiela, Jil Sander, Dries Van Noten, Junya Watanabe, and Acne Studios (conveniently, the lofty shop’s selection is organized by white, black, and color). The decor of this substantially sized, airy, open-concept edifice is whitewashed, high-concept, and as super-modern as the men’s and women’s separates, shoes, bags, jewelry, and miscellanea on display.
Project No. 8
38 Orchard St., Chinatown
Sitting on the edge of Chinatown, this is one of those spare boutiques where everything is impeccably (and simply) designed, whether it's a leather mouse pad from Isaac Rena, a Lindsey Adelman necklace, or a funny little keychain from Various Projects. Their second boutique—in The Ace Hotel—is full of small objects and gifts, like knitted stuffed animals, simple gold rings, and PB0110 totebags.
Maryam Nassir Zadeh
123 Norfolk St., Lower East Side
Located in a gallery-like space in the LES, Maryam Nassir Zadeh is more like a gallery than a boutique. You’ll find totem-like objects arranged on the floor, really stunning jewelry that you don’t know if you should wear, or just display, and plenty of up-and-coming labels. MZN has put designers like Dieppa Restrepo, Bernhard Willhelm, Jacquemus, and Lizzie Fortunato on the map.
170 Ludlow St., Lower East Side
From owner/designer Greg Armas' own line of subtly-destroyed basics to Acne and other, lesser known designers like Correll Correll and Feit, we rely on this boutique for a dose of luxe, deconstructed fashion.
158 Rivington St., Lower East Side
Ring the bell to enter the custom, dark wood-paneled interiors lined with a pretty amazing collection of sneakers from Nike, Adidas, Alife's special collaborations, and more. For the sneaker head, this is a must-see.
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