New York’s new shopping district is reminiscent of SoHo in the 90s – WWD

Nineties nostalgia is nothing new in fashion, nor in New York City, where the decade is often seen as an antecedent of pre-commercial gentrification.

A quadrant of the Lower East Side is being relocated in a way that sounds like what many say SoHo felt like then: a small hamlet of unique shops created by creatives seeking to attract a like-minded community .

Dubbed Dimes Square for the past five years – named after the Dimes diet cafe that serves as a next-gen lounge for the neighborhood’s mix of skateboarders, hipsters and wannabes – the area has over the past six months become a new destination for the little ones the boutiques debut in what looked like the aftermath of the pandemic.

Their presence adds to what was already a trendy Manhattan restaurant district that conveniently has a pedestrian plaza at its center, creating the perfect storm for a see-and-be-seen gathering spot in a city struggling to regain its energy.

Stretching north to south from Delancey Street to East Broadway and between Allen and Essex streets, the neighborhood’s rows of small, empty storefronts are quickly being taken over by ambitious shopkeepers eager to be part of a new era of larger retail. personal and localized.

Skate shop Labor, streetwear brand Good Company, jeweler The Hunt and contemporary Chinese art boutique Chop Suey Club were neighborhood originals, located on the edge of New York’s rapidly declining Chinatown. A block of cafe-style restaurants on Division Street between Orchard and Ludlow streets had, since the time of the Great Recession, been a quiet retreat for the artsy crowd. Around 2015, others, like Dimes, began to arrive. And in November 2019, Bode opened a store at 58 Hester Street, sparking wider retail interest.

Last fall, colorful and quirky homewares store Coming Soon moved to Dimes Square at 53 Canal Street, with new fame stemming from the home improvement trend made for Instagram, which flourished during the pandemic. In December, designer Sandy Liang opened at 28 Orchard Street. And since last summer, the floodgates have opened: up-and-coming fashion boutique Café Forgot has popped up at 29 Ludlow Street; there was a pop-up of traveling concept store Beverly’s at 22 Ludlow; The hip vintage vendor’s leisure center has opened at 48 Hester; glitzy accessories brand Susan Alexandra moved into 33 Orchard, and shoppable lifestyle showroom The Break took up space on the fifth floor at 62 Allen.

Cafe Forgot on New York’s Lower East Side.
Courtesy of Café Oublié

More is to come: Cult Tucson, Ariz. vendors Desert Vintage are set to open at 34 Orchard Street in March; the Suzie Kondi tracksuit line is taking up space at 15 Orchard Street and there are rumors of other brands on the way.

“We loved the energy and sense of community there,” said Salima Boufelfel of Desert Vintage, who co-founded the company with partner Roberto Cowan. “We spent time in different neighborhoods and the Lower East Side touched us. We are excited to open and access our new community.

Each store is designed to be eco-friendly and consumer-friendly, creating a visual experience that harkens back to another era of shopping and feels like traveling even when the stores are only half a block from each other . And more than that, they’re a backlash against e-commerce – creating an emotional shopping experience that doesn’t translate to a screen.

In mid-November, Tal Silberstein opened its new Colbo boutique concept in a 900 square foot space at 51 Orchard Street. The serene, earth-toned space is part gallery, part cafe, part clothing store and was created as an antidote to the sometimes overwhelming energy of Manhattan.

In addition to selling a house line, Colbo retails lesser-known brands chosen for their quality and sophistication, such as Connor McKnight, Hed Mayner and Csillag.

“I think opening a store is something that has always appealed to me. I’ve always been into physical shopping spaces, I’ve never really been an online shopper,” said Silberstein, who previously owned a boutique in Tel Aviv and oversaw the creative direction of the Public Records space in Brooklyn. . For him, Colbo is a blend of personal aesthetic references: the desert tones originating in Israel, the laid-back attitude of Los Angeles and the sharp creativity that pervades New York.

“There are a lot of stores, it’s really booming right now – it’s growing really fast,” Silberstein said of the neighborhood where he’s set up his new store.

But just like what happened to SoHo, he’s realistic about what’s on the horizon: “I expect [bigger brands to open] better late than never. It’s unavoidable at this point. I think it’s understood that young professionals, hipsters and tourists flock here to buy things and that gives potential to the bigger brands.

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