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Photo: Driely S.

The Ultimate Guide to Shopping in New York

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Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

There's no shortage of shopping opportunities in New York. The city is essentially an outdoor mall, and everywhere you turn there's something — and somewhere — new to discover.

The sheer volume of big box retailers, old school department stores, luxe designer flagships, and cool indie boutiques can be as dizzying for a local as it is for a visitor. That's where we come in.

Our list of New York's most essential stores includes luxury giants like Bergdorf's and the new downtown Saks, experiential and avant-garde stores like Dover Street Market, and all of our favorite independent shops stocking cool international labels alongside pieces made right here in NYC.

Whether you're a New York City lifer or just visiting for the weekend, save a splurge for the places on this list — and seriously consider some retail time in Brooklyn, where the shopping is just as good with twice the space.

This story was originally published on August 18th, 2016, and has since been updated. We couldn't include everything on this list; for more on shopping in New York, check out our definitive neighborhood guides.

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Barneys New York Downtown

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The reopening of Barneys at the site of the historic brand's original location in Chelsea garnered lots of buzz when it launched earlier in 2016. The well-designed space is a pleasure to visit, and the emphasis on digital connection (via an app that sends shoppers push notifications on items that may interest them) is actually pretty helpful. When you're done admiring the designer clothes, shoes, accessories, and beauty products — including many pieces exclusive to this specific location — recharge with a drink and snack at Fred’s, Barneys’ storied in-house eatery.
Photo: Khushbu Shah

ABC Carpet & Home

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Carpet shopping might sound like the most boring thing in the world, but exploring the artful displays at this six-story design mecca is a truly entertaining and inspiring way to spend an afternoon. If you're not in the market for upscale furniture but do want to take something home with you, check out the kitchen wares section in the basement, as well as the jewelry, apothecary, and other gift-y items for sale on the first floor.
Photo: Brian Harkin

Dover Street Market

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Even in New York, where you can find any style if you look hard enough, Rei Kawakubo's Dover Street Market was a gamechanger when it opened in 2013. The seven-floor department store is a must-visit for anyone interested in avant-garde labels (like Kawakubo's Comme des Garçons) and of-the-moment names like Vetements and Eckhaus Latta.
Photo: Dover Street Market

Bergdorf Goodman

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A New York institution, Bergdorf Goodman is a bastion of old-school luxury and service without feeling stuffy or behind the times — especially with its recently renovated main floor, the first redesign for the store in more than 30 years. Head here to admire designer pieces (including couture and a bridal salon) in the women’s shop or the men’s shop across the street, or make the department store a stop along the way while window shopping Fifth Avenue’s long list of designer flagships.
Photo: Waring Abbott/Getty Images

Strand Bookstore

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You'll find New Yorkers of all stripes browsing the stacks at Strand, a legendary new and used book store just off Union Square. That's because this New York icon carries everything from brand-new fiction to gorgeous cookbooks to art tomes and rare antiques. A book nerd could easily spend an entire afternoon here, but if you're looking for more of an in-and-out experience, just talk to one of the helpful staff members.
Photo: Driely S.

The Apartment by the Line

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One of two retail outposts (the other is in Los Angeles) for online fashion, beauty, and home boutique the Line, the Apartment is a perfect example of a really, really well-done concept store. Every item in this ultra-chic "apartment" — from the art on the walls to the clothes in the enviable walk-in closet — is for sale. There's a nice price range, too; you can opt for an $800 chunky sweater, a $50 bottle of bath oil, or a $25 cookbook.
Photo: The Line
Kith has always been a go-to for the latest in footwear and streetwear, plus apparel brands (including the relatively affordable in-house label) that blur the lines between fashion and athleisure. But owner (and Queens native) Ronnie Fieg's really upped the ante in 2015 with the opening of a women's boutique just steps away on Bleecker Street. Stylish moms and dads will appreciate the kids' section, too.
Photo: Kith

Kirna Zabete

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Launched in 1999 by two best friends, this OG designer boutique stocks well-known names as well as labels that are about to blow up (the shop was one of the first to carry Rick Owens and Thakoon). Decked out in bold stripes and neon signs, KZ doesn't take high fashion too seriously; instead, it makes it fun.
Photo: Driely S.

Totokaelo

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The New York flagship of Seattle's best boutique (and one of the country's best, period, for avant-garde designers) is jaw-droppingly big, with five stories of high ceilings, white space, and marble and wood accents that give the shop a museum-like quality. Which is fitting for the gorgeous pieces on sale here: Designers like Jil Sander, Maison Margiela, Haider Ackermann, and Zero + Maria Cornejo, as well as an in-house line of basics (that of course are anything but).
Photo: Totokaelo

Creatures of Comfort

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Owner Jade Lai has terrific taste and a killer eye for color, as embodied by her Nolita shop's selection of cool-kid labels like Common Projects, Venessa Arizaga, Mansur Gavriel, and Acne sitting alongside the minimalist house brand. The shop recently got a physical upgrade, after nesting in a temporary location for much of 2015, to show off its goods.
Photo: Driely S.

Opening Ceremony

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It may have been more than a decade since Opening Ceremony burst onto the fashion scene, but its original Howard Street location doesn’t feel anything less than fresh. It’s still a destination for well-known labels Kenzo and Maison Margiela, a really great house brand, and every under-the-radar label that's about to blow up. You can also find collabs with basically everyone, from Calvin Klein and Chloë Sevigny to Minnetonka and Tevas.
Photo: Brian Harkin

In Support Of

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In a neighborhood full of dedicated designer stores, this Meatpacking District boutique champions eco-friendly, under-the-radar designers who produce locally, like Apiece Apart, Nikki Chasin, and Tosia. And there’s a good reason behind its difficult-to-Google name: Each year, a portion of its proceeds are donated in support of a different charity.
Photo: Driely S.

William Okpo and Brother Vellies

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New York City is home to many designers worth seeking out, from established brands like Rag & Bone to smaller ones like Veda. But as far as shopping goes, none get us as excited as William Okpo, a young label spearheaded by sisters whose median age is just 28. Their first retail store is located in the increasingly fashionable Seaport District, right next door to another NY-based favorite: Brother Vellies, Aurora James' sustainable shoe and accessories brand. Her pieces are inspired by African footwear, handmade in South Africa, and often include fun materials like fur or brocade.
Photo: Driely S.

Maryam Nassir Zadeh

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A favorite among fashion folk, this LES shop specializes in avant-garde pieces selected with a gallerist’s attention to detail and love of color. The level of curation here tends to attract cult-like devotion among fans, especially when it comes to the shoes — and some of the best pairs are by MNZ's in-house line.
Photo: Maryam Nassir Zadeh
Launched in Park Slope in 1999, Jen Mankins’s Bird has set the bar for hip Brooklyn boutiques pretty darn high. The Williamsburg location is the biggest shop in her mini empire, and the only to stock men’s apparel too. The warm, LEED-certified space carries Rachel Comey, Mansur Gavriel, Ace & Jig, and enough other designers that are so cool that if the prices weren’t so splurgy, you wouldn’t ever need to shop anywhere else.
Photo: Driely S.

Swords-Smith

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Compared to most indie boutiques, Swords-Smith in South Williamsburg feels as big and spacious as a department store, but its selection is much cooler. Co-owners Briana Swords and R. Smith have an eye for texture and pattern and stock labels that play with both, including lots of New York-based brands like Eleven Six and CF. Goldman. Stop by the store's apothecary section on the way out for Ursa Major skincare products and Soul Sunday perfume rollers.
Photo: Driely S.

Concrete + Water

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This light-filled boutique is the perfect McCarren Park bookend to the neighborhood's other indie, multi-brand giants (that's Bird and Swords-Smith). Like its predecessors, Concrete + Water carries men's and women's clothing and accessories from a mix of contemporary brands, but there’s a special focus on cult-y European labels (Ganni, Nanushka, Anne Thomas), as well as locally-made home goods.
Photo: Driely S.

Catbird

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This Williamsburg jewel box of a store has become a destination for all things dainty (and bridal, too, with its wedding annex down the street). In addition to its popular in-house line, the store sells jewelry by an impressive roster of designers — Blanca Monros Gomez, WWAKE, Yayoi Forest, and Jennie Kwon, to name a few — as well as a selection of almost-too-pretty-to-use beauty products.
Photo: Brian Harkin

Beacon's Closet

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Beacon's is where Brooklynites go to clean out their closets, though the buyers at this iconic resale shop are notoriously picky. Of the four locations, the Williamsburg warehouse has the best selection. Sure, there are more curated thrift stores out there (if you're looking for designer-only consignment, hit up INA and Eva Gentry), but none where you can count on snagging buys as satisfying as a $20 Moschino dress, $15 Rag & Bone jeans, or a $30 vintage fur coat with some regularity.
Photo: Beacon's Closet

Sincerely Tommy

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Owner Kai Avent-deLeon calls herself a Bed-Stuy "retail pioneer," but we have a feeling hers won’t be the only luxury boutique on the block for long. The former Chanel employee stocks her store with pieces by up-and-coming designers like Collina Strada and Rejina Pyo alongside an affordable in-house line, plus statement jewelry and works by Brooklyn artists. To sweeten the deal, there's an in-store café with great coffee and free wifi.
Photo: Driely S.

Article&

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Lara Fieldbinder’s Smith Street shop, formerly known as Dear Fieldbinder, caters to NYC’s creative working class with affordable pieces from indie labels for the office and beyond. The shapes are current (jumpsuits, wide-leg pants, kimono dresses) and quality is reliable, with tons of options under $100 — which isn’t always that easy to find.
Photo: Driely S.

Personnel of New York

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If you want to take a temperature on what's cool, head to Personnel of New York. Instead of department store brands, owner Kristi Paras stocks her shop with artsy-cool international and US labels like Henrik Vibskov, Rodebjer, Ace & Jig, and Black Crane. Everything here is easy to wear and reasonably priced for the quality; you'll likely walk out with a new favorite.
Photo: William Chan

No. 6 Store

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No. 6 is known for its clogs, which have become ubiquitous in geek-chic/Brooklyn mom circles in recent years. But don’t overlook the clothes; the store was founded by a vintage collector and a stylist, so the little dresses are top-notch. The shop also carries a stacked roster of cool designers, in addition to its own wares, from the likes of Brother Vellies and Tienda Ho.
Photo: Driely S.

Assembly New York

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Pari Desai, Eckhaus Latta, Shaina Mote... Assembly New York has a strong point of view, and while it's not always crazy expensive, it definitely hits the avant-garde target. The in-house line holds its own against the industry darlings, and the shoe and accessories collections are just as extensive as the men's and women's apparel.
Photo: Assembly New York

Cloak & Dagger

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If you take your fashion cues from Wes Anderson movies and Françoise Hardy album covers, you’ll love this East Village shop, where retro-schoolgirl finds for under $100 share the space with curated vintage and slightly pricier fare from Rachel Antonoff, Samantha Pleet, and Sessun.
Photo: Driely S.
Magdalena Jaworska fills her Prospect Heights boutique with on-trend merchandise from brands like Ali Golden, First Rite, and Ilana Kohn. A new selection of brightly printed Dusen Dusen home goods rounds out the wares, and the sale section is usually a high point. (While there aren't a ton of other shops in the neighborhood, O.N.A. is a stone's throw from Prospect Park, where you can take a break to admire all your new purchases.)
Photo: Driely S.

10 ft. Single by Stella Dallas

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An offshoot of a beloved West Village vintage shop, this three-in-one Williamsburg boutique is one of the best vintage stores in New York for a couple of reasons. First, the huge selection — there are racks upon racks of the exact items you're looking for, from vintage Levi's to crochet dresses. Then there's the room in the back for extra-special (read: old) vintage pieces, and a home store next door. But the best part: the prices! For curated vintage in New York, you can't beat them. (Yes, sorry, $20 for a vintage piece in NYC is a great price.)

Fivestory

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If the fashion world loves it (or is about to), you'll find it at Fivestory, which is actually a two-and-a-half-story townhouse run by young entrepreneur Claire Distenfeld. The luxe setting is the place to browse pieces from up-and-coming designers like Maiyet, Ellery, Rosetta Getty, and Monse. Thankfully, it's not all crazy expensive; you can find accessories and contemporary pieces priced under $200.
Photo: Fivestory

Canal Street Market

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Tucked away in downtown where Soho meets Chinatown, this small-scale marketplace hosts a mix of permanent vendors — shops like Office Magazine newsstand and café, Mast Brothers, and indie boutique Jill Lindsey — as well as a dozen other rotating pop-up shops offering everything from pastel-painted home goods to liquor and fine jewelry (check the vendor list for current shops). There's a hang-out spot in the back with comfy seats and tables, free wifi, and plenty of outlets.

Saks Fifth Avenue Downtown

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The much-anticipated downtown outpost of Saks, located within the Financial District's Brookfield Place mall, has a fittingly younger vibe than its uptown counterpart. The emphasis here is on more cutting-edge labels that aren't stocked at the original location. Case in point: The store celebrated its opening with a month-long artsy installation by Vetements.
Photo: Steve Mack/Getty Images

Barneys New York Downtown

Photo: Khushbu Shah
The reopening of Barneys at the site of the historic brand's original location in Chelsea garnered lots of buzz when it launched earlier in 2016. The well-designed space is a pleasure to visit, and the emphasis on digital connection (via an app that sends shoppers push notifications on items that may interest them) is actually pretty helpful. When you're done admiring the designer clothes, shoes, accessories, and beauty products — including many pieces exclusive to this specific location — recharge with a drink and snack at Fred’s, Barneys’ storied in-house eatery.
Photo: Khushbu Shah

ABC Carpet & Home

Photo: Brian Harkin
Carpet shopping might sound like the most boring thing in the world, but exploring the artful displays at this six-story design mecca is a truly entertaining and inspiring way to spend an afternoon. If you're not in the market for upscale furniture but do want to take something home with you, check out the kitchen wares section in the basement, as well as the jewelry, apothecary, and other gift-y items for sale on the first floor.
Photo: Brian Harkin

Dover Street Market

Photo: Dover Street Market
Even in New York, where you can find any style if you look hard enough, Rei Kawakubo's Dover Street Market was a gamechanger when it opened in 2013. The seven-floor department store is a must-visit for anyone interested in avant-garde labels (like Kawakubo's Comme des Garçons) and of-the-moment names like Vetements and Eckhaus Latta.
Photo: Dover Street Market

Bergdorf Goodman

Photo: Waring Abbott/Getty Images
A New York institution, Bergdorf Goodman is a bastion of old-school luxury and service without feeling stuffy or behind the times — especially with its recently renovated main floor, the first redesign for the store in more than 30 years. Head here to admire designer pieces (including couture and a bridal salon) in the women’s shop or the men’s shop across the street, or make the department store a stop along the way while window shopping Fifth Avenue’s long list of designer flagships.
Photo: Waring Abbott/Getty Images

Strand Bookstore

Photo: Driely S.
You'll find New Yorkers of all stripes browsing the stacks at Strand, a legendary new and used book store just off Union Square. That's because this New York icon carries everything from brand-new fiction to gorgeous cookbooks to art tomes and rare antiques. A book nerd could easily spend an entire afternoon here, but if you're looking for more of an in-and-out experience, just talk to one of the helpful staff members.
Photo: Driely S.

The Apartment by the Line

Photo: The Line
One of two retail outposts (the other is in Los Angeles) for online fashion, beauty, and home boutique the Line, the Apartment is a perfect example of a really, really well-done concept store. Every item in this ultra-chic "apartment" — from the art on the walls to the clothes in the enviable walk-in closet — is for sale. There's a nice price range, too; you can opt for an $800 chunky sweater, a $50 bottle of bath oil, or a $25 cookbook.
Photo: The Line

Kith