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Where to shop in Soho: Best stores for fashion, design and books

Shop in Soho for everything from cult fashion and cool design goods to bestselling fiction and natural-history curiosities.

Despite the “mallification” of the neighborhood (and consequent slow-moving foot traffic), the retail-rich area is an intoxicating consumer playground. You can shop in Soho for everything from cheap street fashion to upscale designer garb and stylish items for the home—including taxidermy! We’ve selected the best shops in the area, including fashion-cognoscenti favorite Opening Ceremony and quirky one-offs like Evolution and Kiosk. When shopping fatigue sets in, retire to one of the local bars or grab a bite.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Soho, New York

AvaMaria

Critics' pick

At Katherine Virketiene’s second Manhattan boutique (her first, Elizabeth 260 on the LES, closed in 2008), local emerging designers like Chulette and Inni Choi are the focus. All grand, of course, but we predict it’s the deep discounts on big-name designer dead stock that most shoppers will be seeking out. Threads by Miu Miu, Alberta Ferretti and Stella McCartney are marked up to 70 percent off ($80–$500), and shoes from Manolo Blahnik, Brian Atwood and Jimmy Choo are tagged $280–$480. The inventory rotates every two weeks; on a recent visit, we spotted Repetto ballet flats ($180), a studded leather Rafe clutch ($88) and a sweet floral-print La Perla dress ($350). Not to be overlooked are the shop’s unique accessories, including J. Davis Studio’s house rings ($78–$90) and Cyberoptix Tie Lab’s silk-screened neckwear ($48).

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Soho

Evolution

A skeleton stands guard outside of this cavelike spot, suggesting that a jaunt here is not for the faint of heart. It’s true: The taxidermied animal heads and skeletal jaws lining the walls provide a frightening sight. Also check out the slightly creepy collectibles including replica skulls of wolves, hyenas and lions ($90–$395); bracelets crafted out of genuine beetles ($39); and man-eating piranha figurines ($35). But beyond freaky stuff, the natural selection can also include gorgeous curios, like displays of blue morpho butterflies ($39), and eye-popping rock formations, including malachite from Zaire, silver pyrite from Peru, 500-million-year-old ocean jasper from Madagascar and yellow sulfur crystal from Bolivia.

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Soho

The Hat Shop

Milliners Guild founder Linda Pagan opened this shop 15 years ago, and stocks her own designs, as well as though by Tracy Watts, Heather Huey, Jill Courtemanche, Omri Millinery, and Cha-Cha’s House of Ill Repute. Most of the inventory is priced between $150–$350, says Pagan, though “you can also buy a $20 beret or a $900 Kentucky Derby–style hat. The clientele is mostly female, but Pagan boasts of an ever-loyal male customer base.

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Soho

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe is an extraordinarily unusual and endearing place. The two-level space—which stocks a range of literary fiction, nonfiction, rare books and collectibles—is a peaceful spot for solo relaxation or for meeting friends over coffee or wine. All proceeds from the café go to providing support services for homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. The premises also host an interesting array of literary events.

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Soho

Ina

Critics' pick

Ina has long reigned over the downtown consignment scene by virtue of its drastically reduced, immaculate castoffs from haute labels. With five locations around the city that book weekday appointments, it’s easy to find time to drop off your goodies. Don’t expect to profit from your grandma’s old knit sweater, even if it’s a brand name: For the most part, the stores accept only current (within the last five years) apparel. This branch caters to women; others (check the website) are for men only or both sexes.

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Soho

Jacques Torres Chocolate

Critics' pick

Walk into Jacques Torres’s glass-walled shop and café, and you’ll enter a Willy Wonka-esque chocolate factory that turns raw cocoa beans into luscious goodies before your very eyes. As well as selling the usual assortments, truffles and bars (plus more inventive delicacies such as chocolate-covered corn flakes), the shop serves rich hot chocolate, steamed to order. This location also houses a full-on ice cream parlor, offering treates like homemade waffle cones and cookie sandwiches.

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Downtown

Kiki de Montparnasse

This erotic luxury boutique channels the spirit of its namesake—a 1920s sexual icon and Man Ray muse—with a posh array of tastefully provocative contemporary lingerie in satin and French lace, including such novelties as cotton tank tops with built-in garters and panties embroidered with saucy phrases. Bedroom accoutrements such as molten crystal “dilettos” give new meaning to the term satisfied customer.

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Soho

Kiosk

Critics' pick

Don’t be put off by the unprepossessing, graffiti-covered stairway that leads up to this gem of a shop. Alisa Grifo has collected an array of inexpensive items—mostly simple and functional but with a strong design aesthetic —from around the world, such as hairpins in a cool retro box from Mexico, Finnish licorice, colorful net bags from Germany and a butterfly can-opener from Japan.

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Soho

Kirna Zabête

The designers stocked at this bi-level boutique—big hitters like Balenciaga, Lanvin, and Chloé, and younger names such as Alexander Wang and David Szeto—may be exclusive, but the vibe in the simple space, with its painted floorboards and white walls, is unintimidating. The laid-back air is reinforced by a selection of art books and fun gifts.

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McNally Jackson Books

Critics' pick

The New York outpost of Canada’s fine independent, McNally Robinson, McNally Jackson has a good selection of novels, nonfiction and magazines. A diverse range of writers present readings in the shop’s comfortable café.

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