Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right California icon-chevron-right San Francisco icon-chevron-right The best shopping in San Francisco

The best shopping in San Francisco

Use this guide to the best shopping in San Francisco and you'll walk away with new shoes, clothes and furniture

By Gail Goldberg |
Advertising
Hero Shop
Photograph: Courtesy Hero Shop

One thing San Francisco natives, residents and visitors can all agree on: Shopping in San Francisco is pretty damn cool. Whether you're a techie or fashion girl (or guy), hipster or hippie, soccer mom or buttoned-up 9-to-5er, there are plenty of stores to rock your wardrobe world. Indeed, SF's eclectic shopping neighborhoods are home to many clothing stores, jewelry stores, furniture stores, and vintage stores filled with lots of things you need. Our list of favorites, often worth checking out for their funky displays or standout design alone, focuses on indie boutiques and local brands. Certainly, there are many excellent department stores and chains in town, as well, but you probably know all about them. Now, get shopping—and don't forget that extra tote.

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in San Francisco

Best shopping in San Francisco

Everlane
Photograph: Flickr/shizzi
Shopping

Everlane

Mission

It all started with Michael Preysman's desire to create a great tee shirt in 2010. Fast-forward to today and the founder's SF brand has become a favorite IRL shopping destination where hipsters, moms and dads, creatives, and regular Joes and Janes of every age load up on quality basics. The digitally native retailer brings "radically transparent" pricing (and a neutral-leaning color palette) to life in its 3,000-square-foot flagship. It's clean, bright and airy—not a mannequin in sight. What you will find: expertly folded stacks of denim and cotton tees, beckoning cashmere sweaters, regiments of neatly arranged wrap dresses, and hoodies and sweatshirts lounging on minimalist wood displays. Plus, shoes, plenty of shoes, including ugly sneakers and ugly-chic flats. Long queues are known to pop up, mostly on weekends, but Everlane's integrated pay system allows for quick and seamless checkouts.

Modern Citizen
Photograph: Courtesy Modern Citizen
Shopping

Modern Citizen

Cow Hollow

This much-loved San Francisco women's label recently settled into a beautiful permanent storefront in Cow Hollow. Located on boutique-laden Union Street the e-tailer's first brick-and-mortar is a treasure trove of effortless, unfussy and un-boring staples. It's the combination of sleek silhouettes and interesting details that's key to attracting fashionable, professional women—and the reason Modern Citizen routinely draws Zara comparisons. Shopping the uncluttered store is sure to be fruitful for those on the hunt for versatile pieces like LBDs, jumpsuits and blazers, as well as sweaters, bags and small leather goods. A smattering of home and beauty items, and a brilliant selection of jewelry, including MC's signature compass necklace, round out the lineup.

Advertising
Hero Shop
Photograph: Courtesy Hero Shop
Shopping, Fashion exhibitions

Hero Shop

Lower Nob Hill

Onetime Vogue editor Emily Holt's fashion and lifestyle boutique is a beacon in the city's shopping scene. It's probably the only store that regularly draws Pacific Heights mamas and cool Hayes Valley types to its burgeoning Tenderloin hood. Equal parts industrial-cool and homey, the space carries a mix of women's clothing/accessories and lifestyle goodies. High and low brands, emerging and established labels, plus lots of locals designers are part of the mix, à la Adam Lippes, Tibi, Mother Edie Parker, Saint James, Stevie Howell, Culk, Future Glory and Levi's. Everything is chic. If you need more reasons to visit—the store serves as a general hangout and community space, plus Holt regularly holds interesting events and trunk shows. It's clear she still knows how to work those fashion-editor contacts. P.S. Holt recently opened up a second store in the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur.

Unionmade San Francisco
Photograph: Flickr/Carrie Cizauskas
Shopping, Menswear

Unionmade

The Castro

No list of top San Francisco boutiques would be complete without this Castro stalwart. For a decade, it has been a go-to destination for style-conscious guys looking for casual-leaning pieces that are timeless and cool, not trendy. Founder Todd Barket is a stickler for keeping his store stocked with SF wardrobe essentials like plaid and chambray button-downs, jeans, striped tees, sweaters, hoodies, jackets and accessories. Most recently, he added a curated collection of athletic apparel from Fourlaps to the mix. The emphasis on brands known for craftsmanship and quality is the special sauce that distinguishes Unionmade from the crowd. Among the labels you'll find in heavy rotation: Golden Bear, Alex Mill, Carharttt Wip, Gitman Vintage, Harley of Scotland, Levi's Made & Crafted and Save Khaki.  

Advertising
AB Fits
Photograph: Courtesy AB Fits
Shopping, Designer

AB Fits

Tenderloin

Denimheads have been visiting this bastion of men's and women's jeans for almost 30 years. Situated in its original, still charming, spot in North Beach, loyal shoppers come for the collection of blues, which very few stores could rival. Sure, you'll find familiar-ish labels like A.P.C., Raleigh Denim, Tellason, and DL1961 Premium Denim. But discovering obscure, high-quality brands from around the globe (Matias, Freenote Cloth, C.O.F. Studio and I and Me, etc.) is the really fun part. Along with the crazy-good jeans lineup, AB Fits owes its success to the guy who finds them…owner, denim genius and all-around nice guy Howard Gee. Make sure to check out the store's own AB Fits jeans, which make great souvenirs. Don't worry, you'll also find a smattering of equally stylish tops, jackets and accessories to wear with your fly jeans.

Shopping, Menswear

Welcome Stranger

Hayes Valley

Calling all urban-outdoorsy guys seeking timeless, well-designed basics: this one's for you. Home to vintage trunks, camping equipment and, yes, a stag head, the cavernous men's store is a delight to shop. And there's much to discover: ever-stylish denim, sportswear, and workwear from an array of American- and California-made labels, including Welcome Stranger's in-house collection of cotton tees, shirting, jackets, hoodies and chinos. The shop is also home to a unique selection of accessories, sunglasses, footwear and all manner of manly-man curios and gifts. ICYMI: Welcome Stranger is the sibling of nearby Azalea (411 Hayes St) that carries men's and women's clothing—and is also worth a whirl.

Advertising
Wasteland San Francisco
Photograph: Flickr/Adam Bruderer
Shopping, Jewelry

Wasteland

Upper Haight

Synonymous with cool, edgy vintage, this thirty-something Haight Street store is a must-shop. Along with true vintage finds from the '60s to '90s, the cavernous space is rife with vintage-inspired clothing from the aughts to present-day. You'll see everything from denim jumpsuits and grungy plaid to awesome band tees and one-of-a-kinds, courtesy of contemporary and high-end brands. Serious shoppers could easily spend an afternoon flipping through racks, trying on shoes and reminiscing about the good old days (Summer of Love or 500 Days of Summer, perhaps?)

Cris Consignment
Photograph: Courtesy Cris Consignment
Shopping

Cris Consignment

Nob Hill

This Nob Hill boutique is worth a visit for ladies and gents who get weak-kneed at the prospect of high-end labels, like Chanel, Giorgio Armani and Gucci, at reasonable prices. (Department store brands are also available.) All the classic and contemporary dresses, shirts, suits and accessories—arranged by color— are in stellar condition. And since the clean, bright space is on the smallish side, poring through racks and ogling shelves doesn't feel overwhelming…even for not-a-fan-of-shopping-types. Fact: There are plenty of style scores to be had.

Advertising
Shopping

Batch

Nob Hill

This cool retailer, located in a onetime firehouse (with a requisite fire pole), is a next-gen showroom that puts shopping-as-experience into practice on the daily. The high-ceilinged, warehouse-like shop is set up like a home, where opening dresser drawers, bouncing on a love seat, peeking in cabinets and chilling, supine, on a rug is 100 percent encouraged—and all part of the fun. Basically, everything is for sale, including the gorgeous furniture, home accessories, and more eye candy than you can imagine. The roster of local and international brands is refreshed often, when the always bright and magazine-spread-ready pad gets a whole new, ahem, batch of stuff.

Big Daddy Antiques
Photograph: Courtesy Big Daddy Antiques
Shopping

Big Daddy's Antiques

Potrero Hill

This huge warehouse is a veritable wonderland for one-of-a-kind antiques, vintage and reproductions from around the globe. On any given day, the beloved Potrero Hill furniture spot, which also serves as a funky event space and go-to for prop stylists and interior designers, may turn up cozy-cool vintage leather love seats, industrial side tables, mix-and-match mid-century folding chairs, old-time signs (hello, loft dwellers) and quirky art and accessories; think pillows, steamer trunks and unique tabletop items. It's virtually impossible not to have fun while shopping for blasts from the past at this happy place.

Advertising
Heath Ceramics
Photograph: Flickr/Didriks
Shopping

Heath Ceramics

SoMa

Founded in Sausalito in 1948, the storied tile and ceramics company moved into a cavernous old linen supply and laundry facility in 2012 and has been a hub of design ever since. The working tile factory is also a wonderland of a gallery, showroom and store Shoppers and lookie-loos come for the famous, and minimalist  dinnerware, and ceramics (Heath's signature bud vase is a go-to gift for locals), accessories and bags (courtesy of Heath Sews) and jewelry, as well as a smattering of books, children's items and kitchenwares from other like-minded design-y brands and local makers. Bonus points for the more recent addition of Heath Newsstand, stuffed with glossies, design mags, travel guides and other hard-to-find printed matter. Plus, when you get hungry, the connected Tartine Manufactory is right there to satisfy your morning bun and water-buffalo-milk ice cream fix.

Jay Jeffers
Photograph: Courtesy Jay Jeffers
Shopping, Lifestyle

Jay Jeffers

Lower Nob Hill

Local celeb designer Jay Jeffers' namesake Tendernob store is filled with an eclectic mix of luxury furnishing and finds, heavy on the glam factor. It's impossible not to be wowed by the beautiful space with money-is-no-object contemporary pieces and scene-stealers at every turn. Marble headboard beds and brass Ouija tables by (wh)Ore Haus and hand-stitched top-grain leather saddle chairs by AMKD mix it with up vintage and antique treasures. The truly unique home accents, decorative arts (resin skull with peacock feathers by Laurence Le Constant, anyone?) and gifts are pretty amazing, too.

Advertising
ModCloth
Photograph: Courtesy ModCloth
Shopping

ModCloth

Pacific Heights

This colorful Fillmore Street showroom is a welcome addition to Pacific Heights' prime shopping drag. The brick-and-mortar is instantly recognizable to fans of the digital-first Bay Area brand known for its size-inclusive vintage-inspired dresses, quirky prints and humorous graphic tees. The shop is stuffed with A-line skirts, fit-and-flare frocks and retro blouses. There's an especially fun assortment of candy-colored baubles, too. Authentic vintage lovers will be happy to learn that a curated selection of one-of-a-kind treasures inhabits a spot in the back—as does squeal-worthy wallpaper (mod kitties, magic mushrooms, and giant pencils) in the dressing rooms. One last thing to note: the shop functions like a showroom: you order items, which will be shipped (for free) directly to your home.

Shopping, Design and interiors

Nest

Pacific Heights

Calling all Francophiles: Get thee to this très charming Pacific Heights boutique, a treasure trove of fun and exotic things from around the globe. With a distinct Parisian feel, the medium-sized space is jam-packed with covetable items old and new. Think delicate jewelry and Old Word baubles, handmade quilts, colorful and printed pillows and throws, vintage-inspired glassware and home accessories, travel and fashion books, fine stationery and journals, sophisticated soaps, scents and candles, and more. The selection of European children’s toys, books and games is stellar, as well. Not to mention, the store is magically merchandised and an ideal spot when shopping for something special for yourself or someone else is on the agenda. Ooh la la!

Advertising
Shopping, Jewelry

No. 3

Russian Hill

For years, Jenny Chung's jewelry boutique has been a go-to destination for both dainty ring stacks, edgier pieces and unique engagement rings (i.e. lots of diamonds and gemstones). In early 2019,  the store moved to a bigger, brighter location on Polk Street. You'll find the same coveted designers—Anna Sheffield, Bing Bang, Vale, Adina Reyter, Bliss Lau, and No.3's house label. The selection of bracelets, necklaces and rings is sharply curated with prices ranging from affordable to sky's-the-limit. The customer service is super friendly and low-pressure—especially key for the soon-to-be betrothed on the hunt for the perfect symbols of their love.

Freda Salvador
Photograph: John Ater
Shopping, Shoes

Freda Salvador

Cow Hollow

Established in San Francisco in 2012, it didn't take long for this women's footwear brand to develop a cult-following among hill-schlepping cool girls looking for quality leather shoes (handcrafted  in Spain) that are chic, comfortable and seriously versatile. The small artisanally designed Pacific Heights boutique, punctuated with all manner of décor dedicated to the label's patron saint Frida Kahlo, showcased the full label's full collection of modern loafers, oxfords, mules, booties and sneakers. Cofounders Megan Papay and Cristina Palomo-Nelson are known for their love of special events, pop-ups and experiences so you never know what you'll find when you visit—complimentary bouquets to DIY tie-dyeing.

Advertising
Shopping, Design and interiors

Paxton Gate

Mission Dolores

Gawking window shoppers are routinely drawn into this strange but wonderful Mission mainstay, an eclectic den of plants, animalia, and oddities. A taxidermy unicorn stationed at the door greets folks as they enter the space with an off-kilter, mystical feel, inspired by the natural sciences. Anatomical posters and scientific illustrations adorn the walls, and lush plants hang overhead. Glass cases contain jewel-toned entomology specimens, small taxidermy (including tiny stuffed mice dressed as religious figures), fossils, earrings fashioned from butterfly wings, animal bones (red fox penis bone, anyone?) and pocketknives. An assortment of garden supplies, tools, hummingbird feeders and hanging planters are also found here, as is a peaceful landscaped courtyard in back where all the plants, including flowers, succulents, ferns and air plants, are for sale.

Shopping, Jewelry

Metier

Union Square

With its velvety midnight blue walls, teeny Metier is a sumptuous jewel box of a jewelry store overflowing with treasures. The shop artfully mingles estate and one-of-a-kind vintage brooches and pendants with modern pieces from designers like Gillian Conroy, Arielle de Pinto, Gabriella Kiss Kathleen Whitaker and more. The selection rends towards jewelry that is slightly unusual in its cut or style and quietly glamorous. The truly unique selection of wedding bands and engagement rings is fantastic. Prices range from modest to luxury.

Advertising

General Store

This off-the-beaten-retail-path store is well worth the trek to the Outer Sunset, for Cali-centric home items, found objects, books and more. The neutral-colored dream space, oft photographed and 'grammed for its wondrous circular wood passageway, is stocked with everything from handmade ceramics to locally made planters, lovely kitchen linens and the like. You'll also find a selection of women's, men's and kids clothing (including really good vintage) and jewelry. Make sure to check out the lovely succulent-laden garden out back and breathe in the ocean air. Can't get enough? Check out General Store Home around the corner (3928 Irving St).

Need a break?

You may also like

    Advertising