The best part of shopping has never really been the acquisition itself. It’s about the hunt—immersing yourself in a city or neighborhood, looking for stores with a point of view that’s been all laid out for the discovering by curators who know their customer like the back of their hand. These eight independent retailers, scattered across the country, remind us of the magic of browsing and buying IRL.
New York City, Dallas, and Napa Valley
Whether you seek men’s fragrance or women’s denim, body wash or dog blankets, the owners of the Conservatory are committed to providing what they call “considered luxury”—items chosen specifically to reflect the values of slow fashion, quality artisanship, and sustainability. The airy, chic shops exude a level of zen that reminds you why they coined the phrase “retail therapy.” Come for the ethically minded fine jewelry, stay for the cashmere throw blankets that’ll remain in rotation for years to come.
Looking to add a little of the borough’s famously eclectic spirit to your life? Bird’s two boutiques, in Cobble Hill and Williamsburg, offer the very best by both emerging and established fashion designers, from Rejina Pyo and Kapital to Rachel Comey and Dries Van Noten. With a focus on locally and sustainably produced items and a cheerful assortment of colors, prints, and textiles, it’s like visiting a shoppable version of your most effortlessly stylish friend’s apartment.
New York City
You’ll find antique art and sculpture, one-of-a-kind decorative objects, and the owner’s own line of fine jewelry in the perfectly curated collection at de Vera, in Chelsea. Made with precious stones and vintage elements, Federico de Vera’s creations are sure to become instant heirlooms.
Whether you’re ready to step up your streetwear with the latest drops from Asics or in an off-the-runway piece from Marni, a visit to Somewhere—and its mix of high-fashion brands and in-the-know cult favorites—is the quickest way to look like you know your way around the men’s fashion conversation.
In a city otherwise known for its sartorial conservatism, this Georgetown shop’s distinct, artisanal aesthetic celebrates unique (and often quirky) styles from a smattering of avant-garde designers around the globe. Highlights include Jil Sander, Simone Rocha, and Maison Margiela.
Oakland and Palo Alto, California
With a mission statement of supporting female and African and African American designers, this concept shop quickly became something of an oasis for style seekers in the Bay Area when it launched in 2007. Twelve years later, McMullen opened another boutique in Palo Alto that offers the same winning sense of discovery. Thanks to a carefully edited collection that includes stalwarts like Mara Hoffman and Ulla Johnson and a constantly growing roster of soon-to-be-stars, such as Christopher John Rogers, you’re almost guaranteed to leave with something no else has.
Fresh and worldly fashion pieces from unfussy labels like the Row and luxe beauty products such as Vintner’s Daughter are meticulously selected at ByGeorge. For the holidays, the 41-year-old boutique adds to its home-goods department with books, serveware, and colorful art objects.
Charleston, South Carolina
This sprawling 10,000-square-foot shop on King Street adds just enough traditional Southern flavor to its assortment of fashion-forward labels from Paris, Milan, and New York. Expect bold-but-wearable basics from designers like Isabel Marant and Proenza Schouler, as well as statement-making finds from Lizzie Fortunato and Gigi Burris.