Top 5 Series: Essential Boutiques in New York City (and Online)

As someone who loves to window shop (and, let’s be honest, just plain go shopping!), I have a few favorite stores that I like to browse on the regular, both in person in New York City and online. While it’s become common for online and brick-and-mortar stores to update their merchandise constantly, I’m always on the lookout for high-quality, special items that I know will last for a long time -- think of it as the right mix of craft, class, and sometimes a little sass!

 Let’s take a peek at my go-to places for modern, trendy items:



One of my first go-to’s for a huge range of innovative and unique products is Story, a retail store on 10th Avenue and West 19th Street. The shop is a variation on a pop-up shop, with merchandise that changes every month or two according to the chosen theme, trend, or idea for that session. The last time I stopped by, I saw everything from unisex, hypoallergenic skincare products to vintage video games and skee ball, geometric, oragami-like handbags to  brilliantly designed water bottles by Memobottle. Story is the kind of store you go into to look for a gift for someone else, and end up buying something special for yourself as well! 

The Memobottle waterbottle, via



Finally, when it comes to leather goods, I used to struggle to find high-quality, reasonably-priced bags, wallets, and cases. Then I discovered Minor History, a New York-based leather accessory company (though their products are stocked across the country), and my problem was solved! Their American-produced leather is unbelievably soft, the silhouettes are functional and elegantly proportioned, and the patterns and colors unique. I love the subtle shimmer of their metallic patterns, like the Phases collection of bags, and the use of perforated leather in their wallets and pouches. If you love minimalist design as much as I do, Minor History has the perfect range of leather products for everything in your life, from subway card holders to eyeglass pouches, wallets to tote bags.


Minor History Super Market leather bag, via 



One store that I’ve had my eye on for several weeks now is the online retailer Uniform, established by Chid Liberty, the creator of Liberty & Justice, Africa’s first fair-trade clothing manufacturing factory. Initially created to produce children’s school uniforms (which are prohibitively expensive and often keep students from attending school), plans shifted in 2014 during the Ebola crisis.

Today, Uniform produces a fabulous line of basic apparel for men and women; each piece is manufactured in Africa at factories that are committed to worker safety and environmental sustainability. On top of that, the company donates a school uniform to a child in need with every purchase. I’m in love with the the Quilted Bomber Jacket (great Christmas present!) and Crewneck Classic Sweatshirt, and I’m inspired by the work they do. If you want to read more about the company and their mission, check out The Daily Beast’s article here. 

Tshirts, via



When it comes to breezy, easy, but conscientious women’s clothing, I never look any further than The Reformation. With two stores in New York (a flagship in SoHo and a second store in the Lower East Side) and one in LA, they produce nearly all of their designs and collections in downtown Los Angeles using sustainable methods and materials. Their garments typically feature simple, elegant cuts in classic colors or floral patterns, but then reveal open backs, strategically-placed cut-outs, or slits for that extra oomph. I’m a huge fan of the way they describe their own pieces, informing customers of ideal fits for body types and other useful info in case you can’t get to a store and try items on. With cold weather fast approaching, I’m eyeing the long-sleeved Hayes Dress and the Cannes Jumpsuit (although it’s not exactly work appropriate...). Between their commitment to sustainable fashion and exciting clothing, there’s a lot to love!  

The Hayes Dress, via



When I need cool, craft-oriented shoes that go with everything, I never look any further than Matt Bernson’s boutique in Tribeca (although again, the shoes are stocked all over the US and Canada!). Each shoe is designed using top-notch materials and produced in quantities of only 100 per color, ensuring that each purchase is high quality and unique. Styles range from elegant heels to casual sneakers and everything in between -- think heeled booties, simple leather sandals, and unisex loafers. I love the combinations of materials, particularly the use of pony hair mixed with calf leather and textured ribbon in the Coltrane shoe (and that beautiful color!), and the black and white color blocking on the Trifecta slip-on sneaker. 

The boutique, via


Shopping in large cities like New York (or even just on the Internet!) can be overwhelming because of the huge volume of options and range of prices and quality. For me, it does take time to find stores that match with my aesthetics and interests, but it’s worth it to find the right pieces that will last years and years. I hope that now you at least have a head start when looking for unique products and gifts, sustainable and philanthropically-minded clothing, and beautiful leather goods! Enjoy!

Kate R.

Kate is a New York-based architect and preservationist, with a love for all things design! 


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