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Inside OTR boutique Continuum.
Photo: Brush Factory

Cincinnati's Indie Shopping Scene Is Worth Going Out of Your Way For

The city’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is full of great little stores.

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Inside OTR boutique Continuum.
| Photo: Brush Factory

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The first time I visited Cincinnati was a few months ago for a wedding. My boyfriend and I had purposely booked in-and-out flights because as far as we knew, there was nothing really to do there. But when we decided to kill some time before the ceremony around our Airbnb (in what I’d later learn was the city’s up-and-coming Over-the-Rhine neighborhood), I was humbly proven wrong.

There were a lot of stores, and they were newer than I’d expected. I was pretty beside myself when I found a Ganni T-shirt — which had pretty much sold out everywhere in New York and online — at a cute boutique in the heart of the neighborhood (on sale, no less!). We hit a few more shops that afternoon with some impressive offerings, enough to have me convinced that Cincinnati’s OTR is like a mini Midwest version of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg... but a whole lot cleaner, less crowded, and more authentic. (Oh, and, I don’t know, a trillion dollars cheaper to live in.)

When I returned to check out everything I missed the first time, I found that it’s a tight-knit community of young owners dreaming up these shops, most of whom have lived in bigger cities (New York, Los Angeles, Amsterdam) and decided to bring the fashion and forward-thinking ways back home with them. Whether they’re introducing locals to trending indie brands, sustainable practices, or body (and sex!) positivity via cheeky lingerie, the shops of OTR are pushing the city forward.

Most of the neighborhood’s retail action happens on one small stretch of Vine Street, but considering the majority of OTR’s must-see shops are barely a year old, it’s easy to see that the shopping scene, and the city itself, is growing fast.

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1. Swoon

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1421 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 404-8541
Visit Website

The moment you walk into Swoon, presumably Cincinnati’s first forward-thinking upscale lingerie shop, you’re swept up into another world where incense is always burning and every body is a great body; somehow, owner Melissa Lieb has managed to make the cheeky shop feel that way in under a year. Look for familiar (anti-underwire) names like Pansy and Land of Women, and discover brands like Chile’s Toru & Naoko (handmade, burlesque-inspired lingerie) and the UK’s Miss Crofton (think ruffles and polka dots).

The home goods and accessories section is just as fun, with everything from Fur grooming oil and voluptuously-shaped candles to crystal sex toys. It doesn’t hurt that the whole store itself feels like an actual boudoir.

2. Righno

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1412 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Are you not quite a muscle shirt-wearing bro, but not the type to shell out hundreds of dollars for raw denim, either? Righno — like the animal, but spelled wacky just because — is the perfect happy medium. This menswear shop definitely has a West Coast vibe, with tons of plants and mostly low-key, casual clothes in stock from brands like Levi’s and Cheap Monday, along with a whole wall of men’s grooming products. If you’re lucky, the store owner’s dog will be making himself at home in the middle of the floor.

3. Continuum

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1407 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

This small boutique is an Instagram goldmine: palm-print wallpaper, dozens of plants, meticulously placed objects and accessories, and a pink back room lit up with just enough orb-like lamps to leave the whole shop in a hazy, pink glow.

Shop owner Ericka Leighton-Spradlin opened Continuum in 2015 with a commitment to carrying only ethically and sustainably made clothing and accessories. Expect clothing from brands like Black Crane, Hackwith, and Toit Volant, as well as jewelry from brands like Young Frankk and Faris; small home decor items, like pillows and ceramics, line the shelves and tables. And because Leighton-Spradlin graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s design program, you’ll also find the work of local artists and alumni for sale in the shop at any given time.

4. Corporate OTR

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1323 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

There are two locations of Corporate in Cincinnati, but the OTR outpost is absolutely the more boutique-like, sneakerhead-friendly shop out of the two. Shelves are stocked with #rare accounts from Converse and Nike along with clothing and accessories from brands like Stussy, plus the shop’s own in-house merch. It’s also probably — no, definitely — the only place you can pick up the newest Fenty Puma collabs in the neighborhood. The music is good and the staff is even better, so this spot is a must-stop if you're a sneaker fan.

5. Idlewild Woman

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1232 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

This gorgeous shop was opened in 2015 by the same husband-and-wife duo behind Article after so many women came into the menswear shop looking for the same experience. Idlewild Woman brings the same classic, simple feel in terms of design, production practices, and fabrics, stocking brands like Ulla Johnson, Ace & Jig, Apiece Apart, and Caron Callahan. The boutique feels just as in-the-know as some of the younger shops in the area, but definitely carves out a more mature aesthetic. (TL;DR: You and your mom would both love this place.)

6. Spruce Natural Nail Shop

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1235 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

When you’ve worn yourself out shopping, drinking, and eating, I’d suggest taking a break at Spruce Natural Nail Shop. As someone who needs gel polish for a manicure to be worth it (otherwise I get one full day before it starts chipping), I was surprised and happy to learn that by “natural,” the nail shop is just referring to using your natural nails — so yes to gel, no to acrylics.

Known for some fancy nail designs, Spruce uses all vegan and cruelty-free products along with only 5-free polishes, an alternative to the nail polish brands found at most salons that contain less potentially harmful chemicals. The salon gets you in and out pretty quickly, but considering how beautiful it is inside, maybe that’s a bad thing.

7. Sloane

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1216 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

I’ve been told more than a few times that this shop is the OG indie boutique in the neighborhood, having opened its doors on the heart of Vine Street in 2011. The store definitely has the pulse on all that’s new and good. Expect fairly tame pieces from brands like Intentionally Blank, Just Female, Ganni, and Lacausa — T-shirts, knits, maxi dresses, nothing so fashion that it would be intimidating — with a few wild cards thrown in (like this Veda rainbow one-shoulder knit top I fought with myself not to buy). But the most important part of the shop might be in the back, where Sloane Baby (!!!) is set up — because every 18- to 24-month-old should have a $550 leather jacket, you know?

8. The Most Beautiful Thing in the World Is

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6 W 12th St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

It’s hard to describe this eight-month-old shop — or its super friendly founder, Carrington Warner Broerman — any other way than eclectic. Inspired by Broerman’s travels to places like South Africa, Australia, and Egypt, the shop is a truly mixed bag of all different kinds of things from all over the world. Think hand-loomed textiles from Mexico, sculptural jewelry from Africa, inflatable rafts from Australian brand Sunnylife, and clothing from Diane von Furstenberg, Creatures of Comfort, and Style Mafia. (This is the perfect place for a gift — last-minute or not, the recipient will never know.)

9. Article

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1150 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

The whole “I couldn’t find what I wanted so I made it myself” explanation can feel a bit dramatic — and, for the most part, not true — but if you’ve spent any time in Cincinnati, especially back before Article opened in 2013, you’ll know that owner Anthony Graziani isn’t lying. Tired of having to shop online or in other cities, the medical device sales rep opened Article, a finely curated menswear boutique carrying everything from selvedge denim to grooming products. With brands like Saturdays NYC, Steven Alan, and Mollusk, Article is definitely the go-to menswear shop in the neighborhood (especially if you’re partial to beards and really intense discussions about coffee beans).

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1. Swoon

1421 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

The moment you walk into Swoon, presumably Cincinnati’s first forward-thinking upscale lingerie shop, you’re swept up into another world where incense is always burning and every body is a great body; somehow, owner Melissa Lieb has managed to make the cheeky shop feel that way in under a year. Look for familiar (anti-underwire) names like Pansy and Land of Women, and discover brands like Chile’s Toru & Naoko (handmade, burlesque-inspired lingerie) and the UK’s Miss Crofton (think ruffles and polka dots).

The home goods and accessories section is just as fun, with everything from Fur grooming oil and voluptuously-shaped candles to crystal sex toys. It doesn’t hurt that the whole store itself feels like an actual boudoir.

1421 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

2. Righno

1412 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

Are you not quite a muscle shirt-wearing bro, but not the type to shell out hundreds of dollars for raw denim, either? Righno — like the animal, but spelled wacky just because — is the perfect happy medium. This menswear shop definitely has a West Coast vibe, with tons of plants and mostly low-key, casual clothes in stock from brands like Levi’s and Cheap Monday, along with a whole wall of men’s grooming products. If you’re lucky, the store owner’s dog will be making himself at home in the middle of the floor.

1412 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

3. Continuum

1407 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

This small boutique is an Instagram goldmine: palm-print wallpaper, dozens of plants, meticulously placed objects and accessories, and a pink back room lit up with just enough orb-like lamps to leave the whole shop in a hazy, pink glow.

Shop owner Ericka Leighton-Spradlin opened Continuum in 2015 with a commitment to carrying only ethically and sustainably made clothing and accessories. Expect clothing from brands like Black Crane, Hackwith, and Toit Volant, as well as jewelry from brands like Young Frankk and Faris; small home decor items, like pillows and ceramics, line the shelves and tables. And because Leighton-Spradlin graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s design program, you’ll also find the work of local artists and alumni for sale in the shop at any given time.

1407 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

4. Corporate OTR

1323 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

There are two locations of Corporate in Cincinnati, but the OTR outpost is absolutely the more boutique-like, sneakerhead-friendly shop out of the two. Shelves are stocked with #rare accounts from Converse and Nike along with clothing and accessories from brands like Stussy, plus the shop’s own in-house merch. It’s also probably — no, definitely — the only place you can pick up the newest Fenty Puma collabs in the neighborhood. The music is good and the staff is even better, so this spot is a must-stop if you're a sneaker fan.

1323 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

5. Idlewild Woman

1232 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

This gorgeous shop was opened in 2015 by the same husband-and-wife duo behind Article after so many women came into the menswear shop looking for the same experience. Idlewild Woman brings the same classic, simple feel in terms of design, production practices, and fabrics, stocking brands like Ulla Johnson, Ace & Jig, Apiece Apart, and Caron Callahan. The boutique feels just as in-the-know as some of the younger shops in the area, but definitely carves out a more mature aesthetic. (TL;DR: You and your mom would both love this place.)

1232 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

6. Spruce Natural Nail Shop

1235 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

When you’ve worn yourself out shopping, drinking, and eating, I’d suggest taking a break at Spruce Natural Nail Shop. As someone who needs gel polish for a manicure to be worth it (otherwise I get one full day before it starts chipping), I was surprised and happy to learn that by “natural,” the nail shop is just referring to using your natural nails — so yes to gel, no to acrylics.

Known for some fancy nail designs, Spruce uses all vegan and cruelty-free products along with only 5-free polishes, an alternative to the nail polish brands found at most salons that contain less potentially harmful chemicals. The salon gets you in and out pretty quickly, but considering how beautiful it is inside, maybe that’s a bad thing.

1235 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

7. Sloane

1216 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

I’ve been told more than a few times that this shop is the OG indie boutique in the neighborhood, having opened its doors on the heart of Vine Street in 2011. The store definitely has the pulse on all that’s new and good. Expect fairly tame pieces from brands like Intentionally Blank, Just Female, Ganni, and Lacausa — T-shirts, knits, maxi dresses, nothing so fashion that it would be intimidating — with a few wild cards thrown in (like this Veda rainbow one-shoulder knit top I fought with myself not to buy). But the most important part of the shop might be in the back, where Sloane Baby (!!!) is set up — because every 18- to 24-month-old should have a $550 leather jacket, you know?

1216 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

8. The Most Beautiful Thing in the World Is

6 W 12th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

It’s hard to describe this eight-month-old shop — or its super friendly founder, Carrington Warner Broerman — any other way than eclectic. Inspired by Broerman’s travels to places like South Africa, Australia, and Egypt, the shop is a truly mixed bag of all different kinds of things from all over the world. Think hand-loomed textiles from Mexico, sculptural jewelry from Africa, inflatable rafts from Australian brand Sunnylife, and clothing from Diane von Furstenberg, Creatures of Comfort, and Style Mafia. (This is the perfect place for a gift — last-minute or not, the recipient will never know.)

6 W 12th St
Cincinnati, OH 45202

9. Article

1150 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

The whole “I couldn’t find what I wanted so I made it myself” explanation can feel a bit dramatic — and, for the most part, not true — but if you’ve spent any time in Cincinnati, especially back before Article opened in 2013, you’ll know that owner Anthony Graziani isn’t lying. Tired of having to shop online or in other cities, the medical device sales rep opened Article, a finely curated menswear boutique carrying everything from selvedge denim to grooming products. With brands like Saturdays NYC, Steven Alan, and Mollusk, Article is definitely the go-to menswear shop in the neighborhood (especially if you’re partial to beards and really intense discussions about coffee beans).

1150 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202