To even the scales a bit, I thought it was time to focus on the “visa” side of things. So, I’m highlighting a few indie boutiques I like and have found through my journeys on the road and exploration of NYC neighborhoods.
Avenue Boutique: I found myself in Tucson for an Army IT trade show in early 2011 and while I can’t say too many GREAT things about Tucson, I can say Avenue Boutique is GREAT. The owner Alexis was one of the nicest people I’ve met. She was friendly and very helpful – I ended up buying a dress, shirt and sweater! I would have bought more, but my suitcase was already full as I was traveling directly from Tucson to Denver for back-to-back shows. The store was open and spacious with a great mix of Southwestern charm and Industrial chicness. You’ll find an edited assortment of contemporary brands like Maison Scotch, MINKPINK, Myne and James Jeans, along with handmade jewelry, vintage and items for the home. If you’re ever in Tucson I suggest stopping by, I’m sure you’ll find something! And, if not check out the website, the owner even designs her own jewelry.
House of Lolo: Although Portland is known for its AMAZING vintage shopping, I realized that I’m not as savvy of a vintage shopper, but I felt right at home at House of Lolo. The space was open and airy and very easy to browse the racks of the clothing. Even the sale section was easy to peruse through! The store definitely has that polished, yet casual west coast vibe with a well-edited selection of contemporary brands (think Elizabeth & James, Parker, Yumi Kim, and Wildfox). After trying on SEVERAL items and eyeing even more, I walked out with only one purchase, this Parker silk blouse. It has been in heavy rotation in both my work and casual attire.
If you’re not headed to Portland anytime soon, check out their online site – no tax within the US and free shipping on orders $150+ (I’d say that’s a good deal).
I’ve already listed some here, but I will be returning to the San Diego area in a couple of weeks for a work trip, with a few personal days tacked on to the beginning. I’ll be staying in the LaJolla area, which is supposed to have great boutiques. Stay tuned for that post!
New York City
Otte NYC: Awesome customer service! You may think that’s surprising with this boutique being in NYC, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind. I saw a couple of items online, but they were on final sale. I wasn’t familiar with the brand so long story short, I sent an email that was responded to promptly (less than 24 hours), they transferred the two items to the location closest to me so that I could try them on. I went into the Madison Ave location and the sales girls were very friendly. I only purchased one of the items they transferred for me (my Charles Philip loafers) but ended up purchasing the Piamita dress seen here and here. Needless to say I’ll be back whether online or in person.
Dagny + Barstow: If you’re looking for something unique, special, and luxurious head to Dagny + Barstow down on the Bowery. It has an incredible artsy cave-like feeling to it – probably due to its roots. Once upon a time the space served as a former “den of sin” (a.k.a. Kos Nightclub). Yep, they turned Lenny Kravitz’s former bar into a boutique. Whenever you head into the store, you’re likely to find at least one, if not both of the owners Meredith and Emily in the store, along with their pups. The store specializes in smaller European brands like Devastee, Timo Weiland, Kaelen, Roseanna, and Sophie Hulme (which is blowing up all over the blogosphere world and e-commerce sites like net-a-porter.com, my-wardrobe.com, and matchesfashion.com). What used to be the bar is now the cash wrap and one can only assume that the fitting rooms were probably former bathroom stalls. But I digress, and to wipe that mental picture from your head, back to the store and the owners. All in all they’re both great. They welcome you when you walk in the store and kindly offer assistance, but after that they allow you to roam free around the store and browse. If they see you’re interested in something, then they will ask you if you have any questions or need further assistance. That’s my kind of customer service.
Fair warning be prepared to spend $$ when you head here. A tank can cost you $80 and a pair of leather pants can run you $2,000 on sale! While I have not purchased anything from the store yet (my credit card said NO right now…lol), I still highly recommend you check it out. ESPECIALLY if you want something that everyone else is NOT wearing. Check out their e-commerce site as well.