With fashion mecca Opening Ceremony on the block, the only surprise is that Howard Street, nestled between Broadway and Mercer Street in Soho, took this long to transform from grime to glamour. Though it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the likes of Chanel, La Perla, and Barneys, Howard Street--tattooed in graffiti tags, lined with mucky buildings--has long been considered an incongruent, bare-bones block in the otherwise luxe Soho shopping district. Like the Bowery and the Meatpacking district before it, however, this humble stretch of street is quickly upgrading into a fashion spot to be reckoned with. In fact, one of this year’s most hotly anticipated openings, the Kate Moss flagship Topshop, has chosen Howard for its locale. Till then, shoppers can rejoice as they bust out some Benjamins at a trio of trend-setting stores that already call Howard Street home.
35 Howard St., 212-219-2688
Epitome of all that is hip about New York City fashion, the avant-garde Opening Ceremony features a house label along with lesser-known high-end designers from around the world. The shop’s owners spend months abroad each year hunting for cutting-edge finds to stock this downtown-cool boutique. Truly a pioneer venture, some have crediting Opening Ceremony with the rise of the high-waisted pants. The boutique is approachable, with an rustic décor that comes complete with scattered racks and dinky stairs. That said, the retailer caters to a fashion-savvy clientele—the same buyers that flocked to their launch party for Proenza Schouler’s discount line at Target, and scaled the stairs to visit the second-floor Topshop boutique. Recently, Opening Ceremony collaborated with Chloë Sevigny for a much-hyped about (though critically-panned) collection.
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25 Howard St., 212-226-4040
Sweden’s got more than H&M up its sleeve: Dunderdon, which opened on Howard after a stint on Lafayette, peddles moderately-priced, utilitarian everyday wear. As such, it’s only appropriate that one of Dunderdon’s lines is called Workwear (the other is called Sportswear). Predominantly menswear, the line for women consists mostly of dresses and blouses. The palette features muted, monochromatic colors, and simple prints (think stripes and checks), and lean heavily on light cotton fabrics. You won’t find any scattered racks here -- all the clothes are pristinely displayed in cabinets, tables, and racks in a white-wall space with a pine floor. An Oriental rug lends the store a homey, living room vibe.
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30 Howard St., 212-925-2345
Intricately architectural yet utterly minimalist, the 6000 square foot, bi-level Jil Sander concept store carries womenswear, menswear, and accessories—all designed by Belgian creative director (and store architect) Raf Simmons. The fashion house will continue to operate an uptown location, but unlike most Sander stores that veer towards stark modesty, this outpost is a jaw-dropper. Elevated, single-file mannequins line up in the display-only, street-level showcase, with a rotating wall of mirrored panels reflects various angles of the sleek, white space. Upstairs, black racks and mollusk-shaped lighting fixtures illuminate the space, while three angular, movable, mirrored dressing rooms reflect the natural sunlight emanating from the boutique’s windows, allowing shoppers to see their reflection at various angles. The store’s celebration of light and movement feels museum-like, mirroring Sander’s natural, simple clothing lines.
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