If shopping is the question, New York is the answer. From statement designer labels to hidden vintage treasures, there’s no doubt that if your wallet is looking for a bit of exercise, this city is willing to give it a workout.
Whether you’re looking to window shop the famous avenues or score a deal in a unique boutique, our essential guide to shopping walks you through the best places to find the perfect fit, so that you can be the one to say – this old thing? I got it in New York.
Let’s all go to the neighbourhood
New York is known for its range of districts that embody different themes of the city, all of which have something to offer for those who want to seek out a specific shopping vibe.
East Village – Historically, this area has established itself as the artistic hub of New York, home to bohemians and punk-rockers alike. This is where you can find quirky independent stores, vintage treasure-troves and boutiques that stock the coolest indie labels.
Favourites include St. Mark’s Place: New York’s original counter-culture oasis, home to a range of alternative outlets including punk-grunge shop Trash and Vaudeville.
Soho – In addition to its cobblestone streets and characterful fire escapes, this neighbourhood is packed with big name shops alongside independent boutiques that really add to that New York feeling.
Top spots include Opening Ceremony, for the best collection of cool-kid labels, and Kirna Zabete for an extensive selection of the latest, off-the-rack designer pieces.
Nolita – If you like neat rails, artsy displays and trendy pieces, the boutiques of Nolita are calling your name. This neighbourhood is where you’ll find high fashion pieces that nobody knows about (yet).
Check out Warm for a range of internationally sourced items and an atmosphere as cosy as the name suggests. If you’re into vintage spectacles, keep your eyes open for Vint & York.
Department stores where dreams come true
New York’s department stores embody the most complete of shopping experiences with their niche sectors, fine dining options and seemingly endless aisles of specialty items.
Bloomingdales, Upper East Side – With roots dating back to 1861, this department store has been on trend for well over a century. While these days you might not be on the lookout for a hoop skirt, a visit to the flagship store promises the sort of high-end, designer shopping experience you can only find in New York.
Macy’s, Midtown – For shoppers who are looking for an authentic NYC experience without the designer price tag, Macy’s New York flagship branch is America’s equivalent to the High Street, condensed and stacked into an entire city block that reaches 11 floors high. Don’t forget to pick up an international visitor pass for a 10% discount!
Brookfield Place – Previously known as the World Financial Centre, you’ll find the height of luxury in this shopping complex in downtown Manhattan. Located just south of Tribeca, label-lovers will be in heaven as the recently-developed Brookfield Place is home to big name brands such as Michael Kors, Burberry, Bottega Veneta and Hermès.
Take a posh stroll down the avenue
Whether you’re searching for your next statement handbag or simply gazing wishfully through the windows, a stroll down one of these avenues will fulfil your designer dreams.
Fifth Avenue – This simple phrase is enough to send a flutter through the hearts of fashion enthusiasts. The stretch from Midtown to the Upper East Side is home to an exclusive string of both high-end and high street shops, as well as luxury department stores Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.
Madison Avenue – From Ann Taylor to Valentino, with an alphabet of designer names in-between, Madison Avenue is the ultimate destination for those who take their labels seriously. It’s also where you’ll find Barneys New York – one of the city’s most revered department stores.
Go on a treasure hunt
New York is a city full of stories, and many are waiting to be told in vintage shops that are stocked full of second-hand pieces ranging from the designer to the bizarre.
Grand Street Bakery, Brooklyn – One of Williamsburg’s many vintage treasure-troves, this family-run store was once a Brooklyn favourite for bread and rolls. While you’ll have to skip the carbs, you can now find anything from vinyl to surf-wear in this den of authentic Americana.
What Goes Around Comes Around, Soho – With premium items gathered from all corners of the globe and labels that range from the everyday to designer, you can really step into a piece of history. Items span the decades, stretching as far back as 1890.
New York Vintage, Chelsea – If ‘collectible’ and ‘designer’ are two words in your vintage vocabulary, this is the place to be. Pieces are displayed in a showroom setting, and so even if you’re not on the hunt for a red carpet couture gown, you can still appreciate the fashion art pieces.
You can’t wear it, but you’ll still love it
If you’re tired of the dressing rooms, New York’s shopping districts are full of quirky shops that specialise in products that are sure to tick off the miscellaneous items on your list.
Strand Bookstore, East Village – With 18 miles of new, used and rare books, this is a dreamland for lovers of literature. Get ready to read: take a journey through the genres and lose yourself among the seemingly endless titles.
Story, Chelsea – This artistic, hybrid retail concept is constantly changing, embodying a new theme every few months and reinventing its design and merchandise to reflect it. Part gallery, part shop, Story collaborates with local designers and entrepreneurs to offer an unpredictable shopping experience.
C. O. Bigelow, Greenwich Village – The flagship store for the oldest apothecary in America is a maze of unique and quirky products. Though they might be everyday items, this curious shop will have you marvelling over everything from toothpaste to tweezers!
From designer to vintage, collectible to peculiar, there’s no question that New York is the place to be if you’re looking to partake in a retail marathon.
Scale the department stores, dig through the vintage dens, and browse the boutiques – shop until you drop, then pick yourself up and keep going because there are prizes to be found in each neighbourhood and down every avenue. Are you ready to be a winner?