The best shops in the East Village
Catering to girls who just want to have fun (in the bedroom), owner Cindy Kahng handpicks all the frilly numbers that grace her store’s racks (before they grace those of her customers). The result is a collection of bathing suits, lingerie, loungewear, clothing and jewelry that strikes a balance between playful and sexy. You might like Elle Macpherson’s Cupcake contour bra ($68) or Stella McCartney's Marguerite riding contour bra ($110), though be sure to sift through the bargain basket up-front for items at 50 to 70 percent off.
We’ve been loving this streetwear shop since its 2011 debut on the Lower East Side. It recently relocated to the East Village, but the joint still offers a mix of vintage designer labels and unique objects, with a frequently rotating roster of merch. Expect to find unisex loot from new names every week plus rare and one-of-a-kind pieces like Shirt King Phade x Community 54 Champion sweatshirts ($80), gray-marle Rap snapbacks ($40) and a vintage Michael Jordan–autographed Wheaties box ($350).
Whether you’re searching for rhinestone-adorned 1960s cat-eye frames or Kanye West–style shutter shades, Fanny’s specializes in one-of-a-kind eyeglasses. Moderately priced in-house brand Spectaculars features everything from posh sunnies to cosmetic frames, all starting at $135. It isn’t unusual to find four or more staffers (all willing to give you an honest opinion) crammed into this pint-size shop, which displays its specs on antique wooden dressers. Fanny’s also vends such vintage items as pillbox ladies' hats, and suspenders for lads looking to channel the 1940s (or maybe just Larry King).
World-famous for his eternally popular decoupage plates and platters depicting everything from turn-of-the-century love letters to mating donkeys, Derian’s old-world-feeling shop is chock-full of great gifts like paper-mache votive candle holders, canvas totes, and Moroccan poufs in gold and hot pink. The adjacent dry-goods shop features a slew of covetable linens, including delicately printed pillowcases and imported suzanis.
European collectors and NYU kids raid this 13-year-old shop for colorful Izod sweaters, combat boots and letter jackets with wallet-friendly price tags. But what they might not know is that you can rent some of the pricier, hard-to-find vintage at a fraction of the retail cost. Owner Richard Colligan specializes in rare band tees from L.A. (New Order, $250; the Clash, $200; Lords of the New Church, $150), and also carries a handsome selection of men’s footwear (Draper-era Florsheim wingtips for $250). Rent for a week and you’ll pay 25 percent of the full price, pay 50 percent for two weeks, and so on.
Those who grew up watching Saved by the Bell and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air will find a cure for ’90s nostalgia at this East Village shop that specializes in men’s and women’s vintage clothing, footwear and assorted tchotchkes. Sort through racks of colorful vintage gear to find treasures including men’s starter jackets ($50–$200), Levi’s acid-wash jean jackets ($65), Gucci basic pumps ($180) and unisex Pendleton flannels ($50–$60). Nab vintage tees (two for $30) while glancing at clips of old movies playing on a small screen at the front of the store. Stop by on the first Thursday of every month for “Throwback Thursdays” and get 10 percent off everything in the store.
This East Village staple, which hawks antiques, rare taxidermy and freaky novelties, has moved down the block into a 450-square-foot space that was once a funeral parlor. The spot has the same dark and twisted feel as its previous location, with creaking wooden floors, old-school hanging globe lights, and enough strange and unusual artifacts to earn owners Mike Zohn and Evan Michelson a show on the Discovery Channel, aptly called Oddities. You’ll find jarred piranhas ($25) and trays of preserved butterflies and beetles ($250–$350). A large oak case from the turn of the 20th century houses one-of-a-kind costumes, such as a hooded black robe embroidered with a skull and crossbones ($150).
The Norse god Odin is often portrayed sporting an eye patch and an array of shabby robes to complement his dour, bearded visage. That may have been fashionable in medieval Scandinavia, but to make it in NYC, he’d have to pick up some Robert Gellar, Rag & Bone or Comme des Garçons from this upscale men’s boutique bearing his name. Tastefully masculine jewelry and dapper shoes are also available to those with a healthy cash flow.
After graduating from the Pratt Institute with a degree in fine art, Urte Tylaite wanted to shift toward retail. She developed the necessary skills working as a graphic designer and sales rep for the Brooklyn boutique Swallow, and used what she learned to open her own design store in the East Village. With products ranging from jewelry ($22–$1,100) and dishware ($5–$800) to art books ($30–$75) and artisan postcards ($5–$7), Tylaite has curated a diverse collection of gifts, home goods and personal accessories that visitors are encouraged to peruse.
Boasting 18 miles of books, the venerable Strand (which seems spiritually centered in the East Village, though it's technically a block or so west) has a mammoth collection of more than 2 million discount volumes, and the store is made all the more daunting by its chaotic, towering shelves and surly staff. Reviewer discounts are in the basement, while rare volumes lurk upstairs. If you spend enough time, you can find just about anything here, from that out-of-print Victorian book on manners to the kitschiest sci-fi pulp.
This East Village shop sells woodsy-scented beard balm ($28) and “Get Lucky” tobacco-scented candles ($30), which makes The Lodge a must-stop shop for dudes. This Americana spot—all the products are made in the U.S.—is all about quirky grooming products and handsome accessories. Highlights include Ebbets Field New York Baseball hats ($99), Faribault Merino Wool Scarves ($60) and even bourbon-flavored toothpicks ($9), because all men love whiskey, right?
Ukrainian model Vera Balyura turned her jewelry-making hobby into a full-time profession, and she can mark her success with the opening of her first-ever shop, in the East Village. Balyura’s unique recycled silver, brass, copper and 14-karat gold pieces serve as an ode to all creatures, both fictional (mermaids and vampires, for example) and those found in nature (such as deer and elephants). Her gothic-looking shop boasts blood-red wood floors and satin-white walls, from which lifelike hand sculptures protrude, displaying the gems.