SoHo is one of the City's most eclectic shopping enclaves, holding everything from designer boutiques and one-of-a-kind shops to bargain emporiums and kids stores. Bordered by Canal Street to the south, Lafayette Street to the east, Sixth Avenue to the west and Houston Street to the north (the name SoHo comes from the neighborhood's location—south of Houston), the neighborhood tempts shoppers at every corner. Big names like Chanel share streets with small stores, and it's no surprise that many brands have chosen SoHo as their NYC launchpad—Apple and Uniqlo among them.
SoHo's architecture adds to the shopping experience. Cast-iron-fronted buildings, many of which date back to the late 19th century, line the cobblestone streets and are as ornate as they are historic. The area, renowned as a hamlet for creative types, still features many galleries, arts organizations and cultural activities. On weekends, vendors on Prince Street and along West Broadway sell a variety of intriguing items—jewelry, art books, paintings and more. People-watching is one of the neighborhood's greatest pleasures; the area has provided the inspiration for thousands of style blogs and editorial looks. If you're interested in looking magazine ready—or spending the day exercising your credit cards—few other areas in the five boroughs can compete. For more information on the district's shopping attractions, read on.
United Nations of Retail
British chain Topshop opened its first US location in SoHo in 2009, offering a vast array of wallet-friendly fashions: stylish tops, tight trousers and racks of glittering, neon accessories. The megastore's four floors include one level devoted to menswear as well as a shoe lounge selling everything from sky-high heels to lace-up oxfords. Another trendy British label, AllSaints, has been importing silky shirts, leather biker jackets and an incredible selection of tailored knitwear to SoHo since 2010. In contrast, Italian-bred brand Slowear’s first US store is also here, providing shoppers with racks of classic and casual knitwear, trousers, outwear and shirts from their sub brands Incotex, Montedoro, Glanshirt and Zanone.
Japanese brand Uniqlo, meanwhile, stocks well-made basics; Swedish juggernaut H&M specializes in seasonal apparel, as does its upscale sister stores & Other Stories and COS; and Japanese brand Tomorrowland offers quirky wardrobe staples that are designed and constructed well.
The NYC-based multi-brand retailers are no less exciting. Visitors will want to check the wares at Bloomingdale's, Scoop NYC and Intermix. Plus, Opening Ceremony, which has now gone global with locations in the United Kingdom and Japan, offers an exciting assortment of established and emerging fashion labels alongside exclusive celeb-backed collections and international merchandise.
Love for Luxe
High-end boutiques in SoHo aren't exactly hard to come by–within a few short blocks you'll find Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Moncler, Coach, Marc Jacobs and A.P.C. Since the '90s, many of the world's major fashion houses have made the industrial streets of SoHo their home, but the neighborhood welcomes up-and-comers, too. Witness the relatively recent openings of stores by Rag & Bone and Alexander Wang.
Oftentimes the stores' environments are as intriguing as the items for sale. The Alexander Wang boutique complements its white marble interior, fox-fur hammock and black leather couches with a metal cage that houses changing installations. Weaving through the Prada flagship is a cascading wooden wavelike structure, designed by architect Rem Koolhaas, decorated with faceless mannequins draped in Prada's finest.
The Balenciaga flagship, which emulates a grand Venetian museum, is lined with 5,400 square feet of Verde Rameggiato marble installed by contractors flown in from Italy. Skylights, illuminated display cases and neatly arranged racks display the label’s embroidered pieces, elegant knits and minimalist silhouettes.
Italian luxury brand Moschino, which has experienced a revival under its creative director Jeremy Scott, brings its bright and playful aesthetic to its new SoHo flagship. The store is designed to encapsulate the colorful and over-the-top vibe of the brand with larger-than-life props, including giant handbags and shoes, all in the name of fun. Another high-end Italian retailer Versus Versace, set up shop in SoHo to sell its more affordable line of edgy black clothing.
Where the Boys Are
English tweed, American flannel, bomber jackets, biker jackets, custom-tailored suits and graphic neckties: the bountiful menswear options in SoHo are enough to make women jealous. Setting the benchmark for style, Ted Baker London opened up shop in SoHo in 1998. The brand appeals to the fashion-conscious man (and now, woman) with detailed outerwear and colorful yet simple items. Another Brit import, Ben Sherman, transforms '60s mod looks into tailored, trendy styles. Ernest Alexander stocks finely crafted leather and wax messenger bags as well as an entire line of rustic American menswear.
J. Crew Men's Shop carries classic J. Crew garb and ready-made suits, while John Varvatos packs the designer's signature collection of slim-fitting shirts, suits and jackets that rock stars like Slash and Paul Weller adore. Inside Barbour, racks of wool, waxed and leather jackets, including those from the Steve McQueen motorcycle-inspired line, fill the store. And at Carhartt WIP's only stateside store, a collection of work wear (like the brand's classic canvas pants) stretches from floor to ceiling.
Hearth and Home
Featuring a number of stores that cater to a range of decorating styles, SoHo is the place to find chic knickknacks, eclectic household items and one-of-a kind products. For more mainstream goods, Sur La Table transports shoppers to a Food Network chef's kitchen. Gleaming shelves are stocked with culinary wares including cooking utensils, flatware, cutlery, linens and various appliances for both the novice and expert chef. Next door, the MoMA Design Store specializes in modern design products, home furnishings, books and useful kitchen tools.
Evolution, meanwhile, could double as a natural history museum. The store sells framed insects, preserved animal specimens, replica (and real!) skulls and a variety of taxidermy. For skulls of a different kind try Other Criteria—the first US outpost of British artist Damien Hirst's retail store, which stocks a wide variety of the company's curated books and artists prints, as well as artist-designed jewelry, accessories, collectibles and home wares.
Since 1994, Supreme has been virtually rule-free when it comes to fashion. The brand combines the brash attitude of the skate world with a minimalist aesthetic that's made countless celebrities and regular folk into fans—it counts Thom Browne and Timberland as collaborators and Kate Moss and Lady Gaga as former campaign models. The limited-edition and very exclusive collections bring long lines to the store's Lafayette Street flagship. Other sophisticated streetwear brands like Billionaire Boys Club and The Vans DQM General garner a similar amount of global fandom. Denim fans can find the perfect fit at specialty shop Blue in Green, which carries an assortment of high-quality and hard-to-get international brands (a majority of its imports come from Japan). But a visit to SoHo isn't quite complete until you've browsed the racks at Yellow Rat Bastard, which is practically a downtown institution. Named by former manager Marc Ecko (who also helped design the space), YRB sells graphic T-shirts, jeans, accessories, outerwear and various novelty items.
Carrie Bradshaw once claimed shopping was her cardio. If you happen to visit these vintage stores, you'll echo that sentiment. These shops are filled with one-of-a-kind pieces—and looking through them can be a workout. For 35 years Legacy has housed an incredible collection of finds, from the glamorous gowns of the past to the trendy labels of today. A selection of Hermès, Lanvin and Céline bags is easy to come by, and there is a house collection manufactured from the store's vintage acquisitions. What Goes Around Comes Around, meanwhile, is beloved by stylists, celebrities and budget-conscious New Yorkers, carrying must-haves like gold Chanel necklaces from the '80s and '90s, authentic rock band T-shirts and its own line of stylish threads. Another celebrated store is Housing Works Thrift Shop, which sells an intriguing array of donated clothes, household items, furnishings and jewelry. Proceeds from these sales assist New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.
Aside from the street vendors peddling treasures, SoHo offers a range of retailers to help you fill your jewelry box. Upon entering So Good Jewelry you might be overwhelmed by the wall-to-wall display of faux-gem-encrusted baubles. Expect everything from layer necklaces and shimmering cocktail rings to blinged-out watches, headbands and clutches. For more classic styles, head to Tiffany & Co. boutique, which showcases fine jewelry like the brand's signature sterling-silver bracelets and diamond engagement rings. Another high-end option is David Yurman, known for its signature rope-twist textured bracelets and cocktail rings. The SoHo boutique carries the entire line, including the men’s and women’s jewelry collections and the Wedding Collection.
Coveted label Alexis Bittar, whose eponymous designer actually got his start selling pieces on the streets of downtown Manhattan, is best known for Lucite bracelets and hand-painted statement pieces. Another designer who handcrafts her work is Wendy Nichol. Her penchant for injecting leather, horsehair, precious metals and Native American elements into her collections sets her apart.
For a neighborhood so steeped in fashion, art and design, it's only fitting that SoHo's bookstores tend to be visually stimulating. Known for publishing GOAT: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali—at 75 pounds, one of the heaviest books in history—Taschen is an ideal spot to browse. Stacked with all manner of art books (and books, like GOAT, that are artworks in themselves), this airy and comfortable boutique was designed by Philippe Starck. Also not to be missed is the Visionaire gallery, home to fashion bibles V, V Man and the store's self-titled, limited-edition magazine. Visionaire is a concept publication; previous editions have come in the form of a collection of records, toys and an oversize (nearly seven feet tall) magazine, among others. The store sells these limited-edition back issues and mounts frequent exhibitions. At the independently owned McNally Jackson Books the stock consists of an extensive amount of fiction (organized by region), graphic design, poetry and fashion-related titles. The store doubles as a café, serving tea, coffee and sweets. In a similar fashion, Housing Works Bookstore Cafe offers warm beverages and snacks with a side of vintage reads from various genres. And with this comfy bookstore's bargain prices you'll never need your Kindle again.