New York, It’s Time to Shop! (Masks on, Please)

After a challenging and dispiriting year in the city’s retail landscape, new stores are blooming,

Thank You Have A Good Day, 392 Van Brunt Street.
Thank You Have A Good Day, 392 Van Brunt Street.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

New York, It’s Time to Shop! (Masks on, Please)

After a challenging and dispiriting year in the city’s retail landscape, new stores are blooming

Thank You Have A Good Day, 392 Van Brunt Street.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

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Trees are blooming, vaccines are going in arms, young people in media are quarreling with one another — after a cold, dark, drained-of-feeling year, New York is re-emerging, puckishly.

A curious shopper may emerge from this long hibernation only to be confronted with oodles of abandoned storefronts. It has been a cruel stretch for established retail, including the closing of several essential New York stores.

And yet, rents are low. The internet has incubated a legion of young brands ready for their first real-world steps. The city feels frisky for the first time in a while. The moment is right for a new wave of entrepreneurs, ideologues, grifters and rabble-rousers to take over the empty spaces and try new things.

Below, a by-no-means-comprehensive sampling of interesting shops that have opened recently, either just before the city shut down or while it was largely asleep, and which altogether proffer a bit of hope for a spirited spring, and beyond.

Antithesis

It remains startling how unambitious New York’s men’s wear retail is. Almost every new store is really for boys — graphic T-shirt, painter jacket, work pants, repeat. Thrill-free and fail-safe. Antithesis (1 Rivington Street) is having none — almost none — of that. Instead, it concerns itself with unconventional, provocative silhouettes, carrying an extensive range of the tech-wear conceptualist brand Acronym, and also 4SDesigns — the new line from Angelo Urrutia, late of Engineered Garments — which lands somewhere between sensualist cowboy and no-wave flaneur.

These are garments that will make you reassess the way you carry yourself when walking down the street, which part of your foot you place weight on, how much attention you pay to the position of your shoulders. What’s missing elsewhere is the opportunity to fail. Here, you might fail beautifully. J.C.

ImageAntithesis.
Antithesis.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

Thank You Have a Good Day

The tree branch that runs through the center of Thank You Have a Good Day (392 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn) functions as commentary and invitation: Tactile things grow here, and you are welcome to find communion with them at a pace no more harried than nature. Many items in the store, which opened in the Red Hook neighborhood in the fall, are handmade and one of a kind, like the radiantly expensive and earnestly beautiful patchwork jackets made of leather, or quilts, or towels. (The store also carries Bode, a spiritual kin brand.)

Everything, from the clothes to the ceramics to the jewelry to the vinegar, looks as if it just left the hands that made it. The responsibility of taking something home from here verges on the moral: Are you responsible enough to bring it out of the store and keep it safe in the cruel world? J.

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Thank You Have a Good Day.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

T.A.

So, you have a re-re-re-re-rescheduled event to attend, and you want to wear something special. Your first stop should be T.A. (332 West 13th Street), the little shop with big endurance (it opened in July 2020) set among empty storefronts and sleepy-sleek big shots in the meatpacking district.

Named for the initials of its owner, Telsha Anderson, it’s a concept shop with an array of handpicked brands in a Memphis-level colorful space. The store’s collection of ceramics (like noodley bookends by Bi-Rite Studio), posters (Nina Simone looks over the shop) and soothing green walls are the selections of Ms. Anderson herself.

The clothes are arranged not by designer or color but by where they feel right. Christopher John Rogers checkered pants, shiny dyed Ottolinger silk suits and a MRZ plaid blazer-vest with long ties are among the pieces that feel like fresh discoveries. (And surprise — Ms. Anderson’s the saleswoman, too.) K.B.

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T.A.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times
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Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

Bode (58 Hester Street) opened before the pandemic, but in a time of store closings, it has grown, and also become an example of growth itself: a how-to for the kind of sustainable expansion that’s about artistry and community.

After a year of hands-off, Bode is the best place to (sanitarily) touch things. Be responsible, don’t be a germy menace, but definitely hold a pair of hearty-yet-silky trousers cut from weighty upholstery fabric in your hands. The cut is too distinct for some (see below for the Bode Tailor Shop), but the real fun of pieces cut and sewn from furniture fabric and tablecloths is that wearing Bode is truly bringing the inside out. Finally! K.B.

So you’ve spent an hour at Bode — allowed your fingers to linger on a hand-embroidered shirt, marveled at the stitching on a patchwork jacket, been soothed by the wood tones of the room. Leaving the store can be cruel, an ejection from the artisanal womb.

But one mark of an influential retailer is the community it generates, intended or otherwise. And in the year and a half since Bode opened its doors on the Lowest East Side, small signs of life have been popping up around it, even during the pandemic, helping amplify this neighborhood into a destination beyond lost hours at Clandestino and 20 minutes on the line at Scarr’s Pizza.

Up the block on Hester, for at least the next few months, is Leisure Centre (48.5 Hester Street), a collaboration between two Instagram sellers of astutely curated taste: @yobs_sport, a vintage clothing seller offering deep-dive street wear, wonky tees and casual high fashion; and @intramuralshop, which specializes in pop culture ephemera, corporate promo-core, vernacular vintage clothing, tomes about modern design and other accouterments of a richly (and wryly) constructed life.

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Sweet Pickle Books.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

Around the corner is Sweet Pickle Books (47 Orchard Street), a winningly chaotic small shop that opened in November. The store is skinny and the selection is frenzied — oodles of titles in biography and travel and an ample art section. But whereas many small used-book stores hone their offerings, the vibe here is more happenstance, as if the owner had just cleared out a few apartments on the Upper West Side that hadn’t been touched since “Annie Hall” was in theaters. (The store also sells its own line of pickles.)

The energy is pristine at Beverly’s (22 Ludlow Street), a new housewares shop founded by Beverly Nguyen, a stylist and creative consultant, that is beginning life as a pop-up. The rest of the stores in the area tend to traffic in ramshackle charm, but Beverly’s prefers precision, with items elegantly hung on a pegboard: the perfect pan, the perfect broom, the perfect whisk and so on. The space invites contemplation, both in the meditative sense, and also in the sense of reassessing the inferior items that are undoubtedly littering your/my home.

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Beverly Nguyen at Beverly’s.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

As you give that thought, walk back around the corner toward the Bode mother ship, but stop at the storefront before it, which was previously the four-decade-strong Classic Coffee Shop but is now Bode Tailor Shop (56 Hester Street), run by Emily Bode and her partner, Aaron Aujla, a furniture designer. In the back, drop off your clothes for mending or hemming (or buy a D.I.Y. repair kit), and in the front, buy a coffee and some jalebi, an Indian sweet. Then, fortified by caffeine and sugar, head back in to Bode for another round. J.C.

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Bode.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

A year of apartness relieved us of an external gaze, which proved both devastating and enlightening for our previously established aesthetic identities.

If you need a little help re-establishing your existence, stop by Sandy Liang (28 Orchard Street), whose pieces chicly serve as what we used to call “conversation starters.” Ms. Liang’s pale pink shop (formerly a laundromat) is around the corner from where the designer lives and works and near her family’s restaurant. The undulating steel clothing racks made by Almost Studio, her boyfriend’s design firm, are inspired by jungle gyms, which will inspire you to play with cute smock shirts, floral fleeces, spandex shirts with anime eyeballs, bleach-dipped denim or a knit polo stitched with a vintage car.

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Sandy Liang.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times
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Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

Ms. Liang advises not to work with your significant other on a project — if you see the store, it’s clear the close collaboration was worth it — but it’s a great topic to pose at your first post-vaccination dinner, after you’re complimented on your new Sandy Liang earrings. K.B.

Neutrality, we know, is an unacceptable political stance, but what about neutral aesthetics? Is all neutrality a toxic illusion? The short answer is yes. But if you’re rich and don’t want to be eaten, you can dress like a mix of oatmeal and sand in pieces from the neutral person’s neutral store. Jenni Kayne (1082 Madison Avenue) has bleached oak floors and “uniform necessities” for jobs like … what? Whatever. Its cashmere sweaters made in China are $345. Is this harsh? Don’t ask me, I’m neutral. K.B.

Perhaps the persistent pressures of the world have led you to crave a uniform, a set of reliable pieces so perfectly suited to your way of living that you simply need one store that you can return to time and again, keeping your silhouette intact while augmenting it with new shades. A solution that outfoxes the problem.

If you are fastidious about clean lines, high-performance materials and a simpatico relationship with the planet, you’ll be home at Nanamica (125 Wooster Street), which opened in SoHo in August. The store, the brand’s first outside Japan, is calm and austere. Clothes are hung reverently, like museum pieces. And they hang on the body with dignity, too. Formal casual wear for the artfully inclined.

The shapes are similar, but the materials skew slightly more utilitarian at the just-opened Knickerbocker a few blocks south (357 Canal Street). On offer are elemental pieces that are mindful of the heritage of the first work wear revival — a time before the Carhartt double-knee resurrection — while embracing tweaks including intarsia sweaters and chore jackets with unusual-color dye jobs. (The store also has an impressive collection of used design and photography books for sale in a small room at the rear.)

Through all the complications in the denim market in the last decade, 3sixteen (100 Elizabeth Street) has remained steadfastly committed to expertly made jeans in refined takes on classic American silhouettes. The company’s new store, in NoLIta, radiates sturdiness. The clothes, inspired by militaria and work wear and motorcycle styles, look as if they’re hanging under the power of their own sinew. The shops around it may open and close, the tenor of the neighborhood may evolve, but this is the sort of place that stands graciously still while everything around it swirls.

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At the opening of the Eric Emanuel shop in SoHo.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

Sometimes, a hard jolt is appropriate, though. Eric Emanuel (91 Greene Street) broke through in street wear with a simple gesture: producing high-end, made-in-New York basketball shorts and imprinting them with a signature logo of interlocking Es on the left leg. And now, upon those shorts, a small empire is forming. He just opened his first permanent retail location, in the husk of the old A Bathing Ape store in SoHo, where a young Kid Cudi worked and which was a staple in the neighborhood for more than a decade.

Ms. Emanuel has de-glitzed the space and remade it with a basketball-themed fun-house installation in the front window and lockers that decorously display just a couple of pairs of shorts. In the past, when he has tried pop-up retail, lines were the norm. The youth, they will devour this genteel place, so that they might strut away, uniformed. J.C.

Quarantine created what could be called an “interiority complex” for New Yorkers: a heightened state of awareness of the true purpose and attractiveness of things in our homes. We developed attachments to amazing Instagram sellers whose plush leather seats, cheery rugs, fresh light sources and charming vessels became our new close friends in a long stretch of isolation.

Now it’s time to have a talk about monogamy with your pandemic possessions and check out some housewares in person to continue to develop your newfound decorative insight.

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Lichen.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

Many can say that all they know about designer furniture, they learned on the Lichen Instagram account. That’s OK. In fact, Ed Be and Jared Blake, whose aim with Lichen (98 Moore Street, Brooklyn) has been to democratize design, are proud to be a source of knowledge … and coffee. Being served coffee in a furniture store may sound counterintuitive, but the Lichen linger — pioneered at the original, smaller Manhattan Avenue location, which remains in business, now affectionately called Lil Lichen — is in itself an art form. But study well: What you see when you’re there is bound to be gone by the next weekend, including rarely seen pieces by Ligne Roset and Alvar Aalto and a bounty of statement chairs, personality-infused floor lamps and harmonious objets.

Coming Soon (53 Canal Street), founded by Fabiana Faria and Helena Barquet, used to be just half a block from its new larger outpost. Though silly-ware and specialty mirrors (Gaetano Pesce, $500) may feel a little overdone (“I do feel like I’m on Instagram,” a shopper noted inside the store), the sheer joy of immediate attraction to an object is readily available and extremely fun in person. If hand-making curvy candles in your sink didn’t go as well as it looked on TikTok, there are plenty to pick up here, along with wiggle-handled glass carafes, a chunky pineapple stool and hand-tufted novelty rugs by Cold Picnic.

The best part about Coming Soon, however, is how everything in the store makes for great gifts. Grab some playing cards for your beach day or hand towels as a hostess gift for friends. Remember friends?

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The Somerset House.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

Back in Brooklyn, the Somerset House (76 North Sixth Street), founded by Alan Eckstein, has all the refined vintage investment pieces you realized you couldn’t live without but were too nervous to buy over social media. To be fair, “I bought my Eero Saarinen on Instagram” doesn’t sound as sparkling as you’d like it to now that you can finally entertain guests. Two floors await, filled with shearling side chairs, oblong wooden stools, Italian glass, Danish leather and ideas for those who hope they can get lucky someday at an estate sale. K.B.

There’s a new old on the market: The early aughts are now vintage. John Koenig, creator of the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, invented the term “anemoia” to describe the feeling of nostalgia for a time you’ve never known, and Gen Z has embraced its collective anemoia for the early aughts. Those seemingly recent trends and silhouettes are rushing back, aided by three aughty-anemoia specialty shops in Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.

If you are too tired to scour thrift stores, check out Tired Thrift (10 Bedford Avenue), which has a goofy assemblage of selects inspired by the Greatest Hits of Hilary Duff’s 2003 red carpet looks. Low-rise Express jeans, platform wedge sandals with rhinestone straps, Mudd camo-print side-tie capris manufactured at the dawn of the Iraq War ($45), a Hawaiian print tankini ($35) and a New York & Company mini-vest priced for more than it was new ($40) are among the gems here.

To be honest, if you’re reading about Tired Thrift in the newspaper and did not first see it on your For You page, these clothes may bring back bad memories. What’s the word for disgust for coming-of-age in a late capitalist nightmare?

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Lara Koleji.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

Lara Koleji (117a Nassau Avenue) is my favorite vintage store in Brooklyn. The floor is purple; I’ll try to keep my prose from being the same. The pieces feel collectible and surprising. Things are a little expensive, but you didn’t log the necessary hours to find them, so that’s the price you pay. I don’t want to write about the vintage mulled-wine leather Jil Sander bag in case it’s still there. Same goes for the vintage 1990s perfectly worn-in Helmut Lang sweatshirt, which would live so harmoniously with any new Willie Norris Workshop Helmut Language in your closet.

Don’t buy the Michael Kors-era Celine leather jacket ($340) or Miu Miu ruffle tote ($285) in case I come back for them. The fashion cycle is too short to live with regrets like these! Embrace the beauty of Y2K style now!

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Chickee’s Vintage.Credit…Amy Lombard for The New York Times

Chickee’s Vintage (135 Wythe Avenue) has all the fun you’ve been longing for since spring 2020. Pick out a colorful checkered knit hat, then find something that will make you feel resurrected, like a Picasso tee or a floor-length Yves Saint Laurent ruffled long-sleeve nightgown. There are lots of pieces with cartoons (Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop), as well as looks with a Lady Di vibe, like Ralph Lauren blazers, a minimal St. John knit dress and a Laura Ashley overcoat. K.B.

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