There’s no shortage of shopping opportunities in New York. The city is essentially an outdoor mall, and everywhere you turn there’s something — and somewhere — new to discover.
The sheer volume of big box retailers, old school department stores, luxe designer flagships, and cool indie boutiques can be as dizzying for a local as it is for a visitor. That’s where we come in.
Our list of New York’s most essential stores includes luxury giants like Bergdorf’s and the new downtown Saks, experiential and avant-garde stores like Dover Street Market, and all of our favorite independent shops stocking cool international labels alongside pieces made right here in NYC.
Whether you’re a New York City lifer or just visiting for the weekend, save a splurge for the places on this list — and seriously consider some retail time in Brooklyn, where the shopping is just as good with twice the space.
A New York institution, Bergdorf Goodman is a bastion of old-school luxury and service without feeling stuffy or behind the times — especially with its recently renovated main floor, the first redesign for the store in more than 30 years.
Head here to admire designer pieces (including couture and a bridal salon) in the women’s shop or the men’s shop across the street, or make the department store a stop along the way while window shopping Fifth Avenue’s long list of designer flagships.
If the fashion world loves it (or is about to), you’ll find it at Fivestory, which is actually a two-and-a-half-story townhouse run by young entrepreneur Claire Distenfeld.
The luxe setting is the place to browse pieces from up-and-coming designers like Maiyet, Ellery, Rosetta Getty, and Monse. Thankfully, it’s not all crazy expensive; you can find accessories and contemporary pieces priced under $200.
Even in New York, where you can find any style if you look hard enough, Rei Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market was a gamechanger when it opened in 2013.
The seven-floor department store is a must-visit for anyone interested in avant-garde labels (like Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons) and of-the-moment names like Vetements and Eckhaus Latta.
In a neighborhood full of dedicated designer stores, this Meatpacking District boutique champions eco-friendly, under-the-radar designers who produce locally, like Apiece Apart, Nikki Chasin, and Tosia.
And there’s a good reason behind its difficult-to-Google name: Each year, a portion of its proceeds are donated in support of a different charity.
The reopening of Barneys at the site of the historic brand’s original location in Chelsea garnered lots of buzz when it launched earlier in 2016.
The well-designed space is a pleasure to visit, and the emphasis on digital connection (via an app that sends shoppers push notifications on items that may interest them) is actually pretty helpful.
When you’re done admiring the designer clothes, shoes, accessories, and beauty products — including many pieces exclusive to this specific location — recharge with a drink and snack at Fred’s, Barneys’ storied in-house eatery.
Carpet shopping might sound like the most boring thing in the world, but exploring the artful displays at this six-story design mecca is a truly entertaining and inspiring way to spend an afternoon.
If you’re not in the market for upscale furniture but do want to take something home with you, check out the kitchen wares section in the basement, as well as the jewelry, apothecary, and other gift-y items for sale on the first floor.
You’ll find New Yorkers of all stripes browsing the stacks at Strand, a legendary new and used book store just off Union Square.
That’s because this New York icon carries everything from brand-new fiction to gorgeous cookbooks to art tomes and rare antiques.
A book nerd could easily spend an entire afternoon here, but if you’re looking for more of an in-and-out experience, just talk to one of the helpful staff members.
If you want to take a temperature on what’s cool, head to Personnel of New York.
Instead of department store brands, owner Kristi Paras stocks her shop with artsy-cool international and US labels like Henrik Vibskov, Rodebjer, Ace & Jig, and Black Crane.
Everything here is easy to wear and reasonably priced for the quality; you’ll likely walk out with a new favorite.
If you take your fashion cues from Wes Anderson movies and Françoise Hardy album covers, you’ll love this East Village shop, where retro-schoolgirl finds for under $100 share the space with curated vintage and slightly pricier fare from Rachel Antonoff, Samantha Pleet, and Sessun.
Kith has always been a go-to for the latest in footwear and streetwear, plus apparel brands (including the relatively affordable in-house label) that blur the lines between fashion and athleisure.
But owner (and Queens native) Ronnie Fieg’s really upped the ante in 2015 with the opening of a women’s boutique just steps away on Bleecker Street. Stylish moms and dads will appreciate the kids’ section, too.
One of two retail outposts (the other is in Los Angeles) for online fashion, beauty, and home boutique the Line, the Apartment is a perfect example of a really, really well-done concept store.
Every item in this ultra-chic “apartment” — from the art on the walls to the clothes in the enviable walk-in closet — is for sale.
There’s a nice price range, too; you can opt for an $800 chunky sweater, a $50 bottle of bath oil, or a $25 cookbook.
Launched in 1999 by two best friends, this OG designer boutique stocks well-known names as well as labels that are about to blow up (the shop was one of the first to carry Rick Owens and Thakoon).
Decked out in bold stripes and neon signs, KZ doesn’t take high fashion too seriously; instead, it makes it fun.
The New York flagship of Seattle’s best boutique (and one of the country’s best, period, for avant-garde designers) is jaw-droppingly big, with five stories of high ceilings, white space, and marble and wood accents that give the shop a museum-like quality.
Which is fitting for the gorgeous pieces on sale here: Designers like Jil Sander, Maison Margiela, Haider Ackermann, and Zero + Maria Cornejo, as well as an in-house line of basics (that of course are anything but).
Owner Jade Lai has terrific taste and a killer eye for color, as embodied by her Nolita shop’s selection of cool-kid labels like Common Projects, Venessa Arizaga, Mansur Gavriel, and Acne sitting alongside the minimalist house brand.
The shop recently got a physical upgrade, after nesting in a temporary location for much of 2015, to show off its goods.
No. 6 is known for its clogs, which have become ubiquitous in geek-chic/Brooklyn mom circles in recent years.
But don’t overlook the clothes; the store was founded by a vintage collector and a stylist, so the little dresses are top-notch.
The shop also carries a stacked roster of cool designers, in addition to its own wares, from the likes of Brother Vellies and Tienda Ho.