RECOMMENDED: Best places for shopping in NYC
The fashion-forward men and women of Brooklyn flock to this pair of stores—one devoted to guys, the other to women—for its huge selection of unisex Cheap Monday jeans ($65 each) in wear-with-everything gray, blue and black washes. Owners Tommy Cole and Roy Caires focus on styles they would don themselves, including downtownworthy denim from designers like Kill City ($80–$90).
Founded in a Williamsburg warehouse in 1998 by Brooklyn artist Lexy Funk, this socially responsible brand got its start making messenger bags out of recycled local billboards. It now hawks a full line of clothing (much of it produced in eco-friendly factories) at locations—all of which run on wind power—throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. Men's denim runs $98–$130 while women's styles run cheaper ($78–$98). Though denim selections change seasonally and differ from shop to shop, you can buy them all online.
One of the best consignment shops in town, Buffalo Exchange purchases cast-offs from stylish city dwellers and offers racks upon racks of jeans in every style and brand imaginable. The store's buyers are discerning, meaning that jeans will be preworn, but just barely—and certainly worth the meager price. Find Chip & Pepper, Citizens of Humanity, J Brand and Diesel jeans, plus tons of other labels, including Urban Outfitters' BDG line and Gap. The denim selection is wide for both men and women, but sizes tend to favor average measurements, with an underwhelming selection for larger individuals.
Rugged guys looking for no-fuss, classic-Americana threads should beeline to this megastore, a bare-bones establishment that’s been family-owned since 1963. Many of Dave’s prices are cheaper than comparable stores; you can load up on Levi’s denim jackets ($60), relaxed-fit Carhartt carpenter pants ($38) and chambray work shirts ($32), or classic dungarees from Lee and Wrangler ($28–$32) without making a serious dent in your bank account.
The original Domsey’s Warehouse—a 30,000-square-foot loft in Williamsburg—was a paradise for thrift mavens. When the building sold in 2002, the depot split into three smaller locations (two remained in Brooklyn while the other moved to the Bronx, via Queens). Today, all locations are filled with preloved wares that change almost daily. You’ll have to dig through the racks—organized by size and gender—but once you do, you’ll find gently distressed pieces by Calvin Klein, Lee, Tommy Hilfiger and other beloved brands for $7 to $10 a pair.
Before you start rolling your eyes, hear us out: You'd think that America's favorite fast-fashion behemoth would produce denim that's as ephemeral as its other clothes. Yet the selection ($11–$33), which is often discounted to as little as $5, is gloriously stretchy and available in a hypnotizing array of styles ranging from destroyed light-blue skinny jeans ($28) to classic denim skirts ($22.80). Try a trendier fit you might not invest in otherwise, and you'll be shocked at how long they last.
Opened by seven curve-conscious women in 2004, this Harlem hole-in-the-wall hawks Brazilian-style jeans ($25–$85) that accommodate female figures from size 00 to 34. Former FIT student Karia Hill designs much of the collection, strategically placing back pockets to give the illusion of a perkier butt and structuring garments to provide natural support (like a push-up bra for your derriere). Store manager Jenny D'Andrea helps women find their most flattering fit from skinny, boot-cut and flared styles, which change seasonally and come in a variety of simple washes with no pocket designs. With its tapered leg and medium rise, the Extreme Butt Lift in gray ($75) is the store's top seller (though act now—popular sizes of this cut sell out quickly). For special orders or trickier body types, custom jeans start at $65. Shorties, take note: A local tailor will do hemming on the spot for $10.
If J.Crew is the type A older sibling, Madewell is its hip little sister (both brands are under the same ownership). This two-story space boasts a relaxed, beachy vibe and a "denim bar,"where a variety of styles and colors are laid out for side-by-side comparison. City chicks will find an array of standard (skinny, boot-cut, trouser) and trendy (cut-offs) cuts in washes that range from dark indigo to the lighter rinse. Although the denim is refreshingly adornment-free, many pairs are hand-sanded or -stitched to give them a vintage look. It's rare to find such craftsmanship and attention to detail at prices that start at $99; hit the sale racks on the upper level and you could score a pair for as little as $20.
What this chain lacks in charm, it makes up for in rock-bottom prices on major men's and women's labels, including Wrangler and Lee ($25–$98). Ladies' classics like Calvin Klein originals ($50) and Levi's boot-cut 515 ($70) are offered alongside trendier styles, like DKNY Jeans stretch skinny jeans ($49). Guys can sift through Levi's of every variety—original, skinny, boot-cut, button-fly—for $40 to $58 (darker washes are more expensive). Since the merchandise turns over quickly, you'll always find some pairs on sale for $30. OMG has ten outposts throughout Manhattan, but you'll want to head to the massive Soho space to browse the widest selection—though wherever you go, prepare to be swarmed by aggressive commission-collecting salespeople.
If you can brave the crowds of Times Square, head to this neon shrine to surf and sand for of-the-moment super skinny jeans ($50–$85) and relaxed styles for skater guys ($50–$120). All pairs have a lived-in look, but that's easier than having to break them in yourself. Plus, an excellent selection of washes in versatile, moody grays will seem exciting after the many years you've been donning basic blues.
Visit this vintage shop with time to spare so you can shoot the breeze with owner Joshua Suzanne, a veritable denim historian who can date a pair of jeans by analyzing the grain, color of the stitching and placement of the rivets. Her neatly organized denim collection—culled from various warehouses and wholesalers—includes men's Levi's from as far back as the 1960s, all priced at a mere $38. Levi's jean jackets go for $45 apiece, while denim skirts cost $20. Correctly answer the grab-bag discount question of the day (posted on twitter.com/joshuasuzanne), and you'll receive a discount of Suzanne's choosing on the spot.
For more than 30 years, this St. Marks staple has offered statement punk gear for the once-gritty East Village. These days, models and Washington Square teen goths alike head here for house-brand skinny jeans for men ($58–$78) and women ($60–$72) in inky black and shocking red. More-daring styles from Tripp NYC include American flag split leg ($78), plus some ripped and strappy bondage styles ($68–$90) that will hark back to your mall-rat days.
The Japanese brand's Soho flagship boasts a bevy of continually stocked, logo-free jeans in styles like the slim-fitting straight and boot-cut models, a super-skinny low-rise and a boyfriend fit (women's $20–$50, men's $20–$70), with the majority of the denim sourced from the Kaihara Mill in Japan. Black and traditional blue washes are available year-round, while colors are introduced seasonally (muted and jewel tones in autumn, pastels for spring). As a bonus, free day-of hemming is offered on all denim purchases.
Though this store looks deceivingly cluttered from the outside, you shouldn’t write it off; owner Izak Cohen knows how to cram dozens of styles into a small Manhattan space. The selection skews toward Levi’s and Calvin Klein (you’ll find an entire wall devoted to the former and neatly folded stacks of the latter), with select cuts from Lee and Billabong interspersed throughout the shop. As if the prices ($40–$50) weren’t enticing enough, Unlimited often offers buy-one-get-one-half-off specials.