This hip neighborhood just so happens to be the home of the Fashion Institute of Technology, so it’s no surprise that it’s filled with fashion-focused vintage and menswear from our best shops roundup. You’ll also find old-timey bookstores and flea markets, filled with antiques and top-notch grub spots for the foodies.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Chelsea, New York
The best Chelsea shops
This women’s boutique in Chelsea is giving us major art gallery vibes. It makes sense because the space used to be—wait for it—an art-gallery. Inside the airy, white-walled shop, you’ll find cool clothes from local and hard-to-find international designers. Standouts include the black-and-white crack-print skirt by House of Sunny ($220), 14k-gold-filled rings by Gunnard ($65) and single-button blazers by Achro ($64).
In 2003, Artists & Fleas first opened in Williamsburg, and now owner Amy Abrams and Ronen Glimer opened an outpost in Manhattan's Chelsea Market. Just like the original location, this version of Artists & Fleas features goods from more than 100 independent designers including Ava Love, Insider1, Nanako, American Apothecary and more.
Fans of this boutique’s first branch in Chelsea (which opened in 2005) can find even more of the European duds they have come to expect from the fashion-forward men’s shop. The gorgeous 170-year-old townhouse has a gallerylike vibe, featuring high ceilings, wooden floors and plush seating, and showcases guys’ threads from labels like Obscur and Mauro Grifoni. Add some edgy pieces to your wardrobe with Gaspard Yurkievich slim-fit color-block blazers ($795) and cropped cargo pants ($398). Wooyoungmi down coats with leather shearling sleeves ($1,095) and military-inspired peacoats ($839) are splurge worthy cold-weather essentials.
Chelsea thrift hounds, get ready to rifle: This consignment chain, which buys, sells and trades its inventory directly with customers, has a third NYC location (the first two are in Williamsburg and the East Village). The high-ceilinged shop has a throwback vibe with aquamarine-and-yellow walls and decorative vintage travel postcards. The fact that it’s a mere block from FIT can only mean good things for the mix of designer-label and vintage clothing, shoes, and accessories, all handpicked by Buffalo Exchange’s stylish staff and priced much lower than retail cost. Retro lawn chairs throughout the space allow you to take a breather between discovering pieces from Tory Burch, Burberry, Marc Jacobs and more.
Cooped up near the Cathedral of St. Sava, what was once The Antiques Garage, showcases 135 vendors selling mostly historic collectibles. If you love eclectic costume jewelry ($200–$2,000) and vintage press photos from the 1940s ($5–$800), you’ll spend hours combing for treasure here. FYI: There is a $1 entry fee.
The former home of the National Biscuit Company is a hot spot for foodies-in-training; favorite vendors include Jacques Torres, People's Pops and Ronnybrook Dairy, and it also acts as a retail hub for artisan markets like Artists and Fleas, designer sample sales, chain stores like Anthropologie and cool pop-ups. Basically, there’s no reason to leave, like, ever.
Storeowner Jason Somerfeld stocks his men’s clothing store (housed in a former Chelsea gallery) with a few exclusives. This is the only spot in the city where you’ll find hats ($38) and T-shirts ($32) from Freedom Artists, and Boy London T-shirts, sweatpants and hats ($30 and up). Other casual brands featured in the boutique include Orlebar Brown and Burkman Brothers. Somerfeld is a hands-on shopkeeper, so expect free style advice and sneak peeks of incoming threads while you’re trying on clothes.
The line lauded for its green-leaning simplicity runs a streamlined store full of apothecary delights. Shelves are lined with simple skin-care solutions in the same no-frills design as the stark, futuristic store. You'll find products and treatments from its eponymous line, including its signature detox facial and body products, along with home fragrances and perfumes in unusual notes such as rum tonic, synthesized lotus root and mojito. Best-sellers include the lip moisturizer ($12), peppermint hair shampoo ($20) and vitamin B5 body moisturizer ($38).
Walking into this bi-level shop is a bit like stumbling upon the private collection of some mad professor. Specializing in industrial and modernist furnishings and art from the 1880s to the 1980s, Mantiques Modern is a fantastic repository of beautiful and bizarre items, from kinetic sculptures and early-20th-century wooden artists’ mannequins to a Russian World War II telescope and a rattlesnake frozen in a slab of Lucite. Pieces by famous designers such as Hermès sit side by side with natural curiosities, and skulls (in metal or Lucite), crabs, animal horns and robots are all recurring themes.
Owned and ‘curated’ by art dealer Paula Cooper and her husband, editor Jack Macrae, 192 offers a strong selection of art books and literature, as well as memoirs and books on gardening, history, politics, design and music. Regular readings, signings and discussions, some featuring well-known writers, are further good reasons to drop by.