New York City has long been among the world's most renowned shopping capitals. While retail in other stylish cities has primarily remained focused on womenswear, NYC menswear has evolved over the past decade into an unusually vibrant mix. Institutions like Ralph Lauren have built veritable coliseums (see, for instance, the old Rhinelander Mansion on the Upper East Side), and global giants like J.Crew have reinvented themselves here—visit the brand's quirky TriBeCa boys club The Men's Shop at the Liquor Store or its suit-focused Ludlow Shop a few blocks away. It's more than a trend: nearly every men's luxury brand on the planet has launched something special for Gotham. While there's nothing wrong with just shopping the majors (see our roundup of luxury flagships for tips), the quality, depth and variety of the City's more independent-minded retailers is truly astonishing. From a house of handcrafted footwear to a haven for hats, the stores in this slideshow represent high points in New York City men's shopping. Read on for details.
Carson Street Clothiers
63 Crosby St., 212-925-2627, SoHo, Manhattan
Recently opened and stocking some of the best labels in the world, this store has quickly become a destination for insiders—not a bad start for its founders, two ex-lawyers who gave up their day jobs to try their luck at retail roulette. Right in line with their litigious roots, Matt Breen and Brian Trunzo did due diligence in traveling the world to find just the right soft-shouldered blazer and canvas sneakers. They bring a palpable sense of authority to their stock, whether it's Italian tailoring from Barena and L.B.M. 1911 or irreverent Americana from Ovadia & Sons and Ian Velardi. They've also paid special attention to their accessories, featuring luxurious ties and pocket squares from Drake's and minimalist Scandinavian bags from Mismo. This is New York's adroit answer to Atlanta's Sid Mashburn.
10 Christopher St., 212-989-4577, West Village, Manhattan
Enjoy a taste of London's Jermyn Street right in the heart of the West Village. This bespoke haven stocks nothing but meticulously crafted, handmade footwear. Spartan interiors showcase dress shoes from Edward Green and Alden and offerings from Leffot's American-made private label. There's a distinctly refreshing lack of pretense here; owner Steven Taffel will gladly explain the mechanics of each shoe's construction while teaching you the differences between, say, Goodyear and Blake construction. But the reason Leffot has earned its loyal customer base is its made-to-measure program. Orders are taken year-round and the turnaround is unusually quick. It's worth visiting during one of its many trunk shows, when brands like John Lobb come by to take custom orders and pour some nice scotch—a sublime shopping experience.
2 Bond St., 212-673-8601, NoHo, Manhattan
C'H'C'M' stands for Clinton Hill Classic Menswear, though this store is located nowhere near that particular Brooklyn neighborhood. The name is a subtle nod to the shop's beginnings in owner Sweetu Patel's apartment, where he personally photographs and styles every piece for chcmshop.com. There's nothing flashy about his retail space—no logos in sight—and the apparel hews to a classic sensibility. Patel has a keen eye and chooses select pieces from some of his own favorite brands, like Ovadia & Sons, Levi's Made & Crafted and Mackintosh, which gives his stock a sense of cohesion. Patel carries what he would want to wear; there's an emphasis on hard-to-find British brands like Sunspel (a label that will completely change the way you think—and feel—about boxer shorts and T-shirts).
Hickoree's Floor Two
109 S. 6th St., 347-294-0005, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
In an age when many e-commerce websites publish magazines, it only makes sense that an online store (hickorees.com) would develop a brick-and-mortar operation. The retailer's owners/designers, Emil and Sandy Corsillo, are behind the incredibly successful tie-and-accessories line The Hill-Side, and the shop's selection of other brands is very well researched. It carries Japanese lines like Kapital, for instance, that are usually found only in Japan. Nearly all of the apparel bears “Made in USA” or “Made in Japan” labels, but the store's buyers have gone beyond the usual suspects in those categories to unearth gems from the likes of Dana Lee and Blue Blue Japan. Even so, a trip here doesn't need to break the bank. Hickoree's stocks a wealth of intriguing knickknacks and accessories in the $20-and-under range that make for perfect keepsakes, like old-fashioned baseballs, mid-century American candies and soaps and lotions.
307 W. 38th St., 212-643-9540, Garment District, Manhattan
Despite its name, Manhattan's Garment District isn't exactly a hotspot for consumers to actually buy clothes—the area is more focused on trade and the business aspects of the industry—so Japanese cult-brand Nepenthes' presence is refreshing. The slim retail space houses a range of offerings, all oriented toward a Japanese interpretation of American work wear. The Engineered Garments label, whose designer Daiki Suzuki is a creator and master of the genre, is the highlight; the brand's full line takes up much of the rack space. But intrepid shoppers can find hidden gems here, too, including footwear from Tricker's, McKinlay's and Russell Moccasin that aren't available anywhere else in New York City (or, possibly, the world). The store's second floor houses a rotating pop-up shop that showcases smaller brands and stores.
JJ Hat Center
310 Fifth Ave., 212-239-4368, Midtown West, Manhattan
This mecca for hats dates back to an era when headgear was an essential element of a man's ensemble. JJ stocks nearly every single style—with the exception of the baseball cap and, perhaps, the fez. In addition to a wide variety of reasonably priced newsboys and fedoras, JJ has one of the best selections from Borsalino outside of Italy. Much of the joy of popping in lies with engaging the salesmen, all of whom seem to be from another, more dapper era. (If nothing else, you'll walk out knowing exactly why the best Panamas are made in Ecuador.) And if you're interested in a boater or a bowler but disinclined to become a fashion victim, this is one place that will never steer you wrong. JJ has recently opened two new outlets geared toward a younger generation of clients, Porkpie Hatters, in the East Village and—where else?—Williamsburg.
Epaulet New York
144 Orchard St., 212-228-3626, Lower East Side, Manhattan
231 Smith St., 718-522-3800, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Pants are the workhorse of any ensemble: like a referee, you usually only pay attention to them when something's gone egregiously wrong. Epaulet's house-brand trousers, however, are different. Made slim for the medium-build man in a variety of colors and fabrics (cotton, linen, duck canvas), they've inspired a cultlike following, likely because they're appropriate to wear on nearly any occasion. The rest of Epaulet's eponymous line is equally strong; owners Adele Berne and Michael Kuhle have done a fantastic job in complementing their own design work with a strategic selection of brands, like Alden and L.B.M. 1911. This is a store for the young, irreverent and tailored.
91 Atlantic Ave., 718-855-2694, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
This meticulously organized store is both an art gallery and menswear shop. Owner David Alperin is a friendly neighborhood lifer who frequently changes the designs, collections and artwork in his space, seamlessly timed to the fall and spring seasonal retail turnover. Despite Goose Barnacle's multiple offerings, nothing is cluttered. The store stocks a small selection of indie designers (Dana Lee, Soulland) alongside simple, elegant sneakers from Svensson and wool ball caps from Ebbets Field Flannels—menswear very much geared toward the erudite graphic designer in all of us.
809 Washington St., 212-524-9770, Meatpacking District, Manhattan
For all of the neighborhood's considerable glamour, the Meatpacking District's menswear offerings have been relatively thin. Owen has filled that void nicely. Opened recently on a relatively quiet block—a good distance from the area's velvet-roped brunch clubs—the retailer's simply appointed space presents a well-edited selection of brands, and its interior decor, with a wall and the ceiling covered in thousands of brown paper bags, adds a textural layer to the striking assortment. You can find solid lines here that fit the area's cooler ethos, like Acne and Carven, hanging alongside small but influential up-and-comers like Sidian, Ersatz & Vanes; Juun.J; and Stephan Schneider. The high standards and commitment to discovering new designers at Owen is admirable—exactly how a boutique should be. Just ask Opening Ceremony.
1170 Broadway, 212-481-6010, Flatiron District, Manhattan
The Flatiron District is quickly becoming one of Manhattan's more interesting neighborhoods. Among its newer destinations is The NoMad, a beautiful boutique hotel whose interior design recalls bohemian Paris. It's fitting, then, that French apparel and music brand Kitsuné was chosen to anchor the hotel's ground-floor retail space. Started by two Parisian DJs with zero fashion experience (one of whom, Gildas Loaëc, worked as part of Daft Punk's management team), Kitsuné's line of preppy-inspired staples earned a following as it expanded beyond its fox-adorned polos and cardigans. (Kitsune is Japanese for “fox”; the label's cofounder Masaya Kuroki is Japanese by birth.) Those staples are still available and in high demand, now stocked alongside meticulously tailored pieces and covetable outerwear. The store is the line's only North American location.
35 Howard St., 212-219-2688, SoHo, Manhattan
Now more than a decade old, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim's downtown indie designer destination has evolved from a niche boutique to a global fashion empire, with outposts in LA, London and Tokyo. Thankfully, expansion hasn't tarnished the original shop's luster, though there's less emphasis on thematic merchandising these days. Instead, the store's owners (who also double up as the creative directors of Parisian fashion house Kenzo) have grown their own line to compete with Opening Ceremony's usual brands (Band of Outsiders, Patrik Ervell, Acne) and strategically partner with the likes of Phillip Lim to create exclusive pieces. Even after all these years, walking into the store feels like stepping foot into some cooler, brighter, more cinematic version of Manhattan. (And where else can you buy all your favorite looks from Spring Breakers?)