Going to New York City for work and play gave me a chance to make some visits to a few cool destination stores by my favorite brands, for men. If you’re a guy and you only have a day or two to fit in some shopping in the city, I strongly suggest highlighting Nolita and Bleecker Streets to your lists, since these two neighborhoods carry a good selection of casual menswear brands to fit most tastes.
Please note, nothing in my NYC #wanderlist covers formalwear or suiting, but there are some selections available at a few of these stores that can offer a full range of styles for most any occasion. (For bespoke suiting, I recommend the NYC outpost of Hong Kong’s iconic menswear tailor, The Armoury.)
+ FINE THREADS // Black Fleece on Bleecker Street
In 2007, Brooks Brothers launched a youth oriented label,Black Fleece, in collaboration with Mr. Thom Browne, who won the 2006 CFDA Award Winner for menswear just a year before. Yearning to break free aesthetically, from their main Brooks Brothers line, the Black Fleece label allows for the brand to offer a selection of menswear for a new generation of guys who may not be so familiar with the traditional Brooks Brothers suiting, but are ready to embrace elements of “dandy” suiting in their day-to-day lives. With Black Fleece, designer Thom Browne gets to make clothing for a wider demographic of men who seek to embrace his modern look, underpinned by the Brooks Brothers level of quality and craftsmanship.
The corner store on Bleecker Street is intimate, carrying both men and women’s. Customers and staff know each other there on a first name basis, and when I went, everyone who showed up at the store, were pretty much return customers. This is a good thing for me to notice, especially because the clothes are so playfully quirky and a-traditional. I suppose the intimacy in shopping experience for Black Fleece is really about the support of their customers who just “get” the brand concept from the get-go. (And FYI, the service quality in Hong Kong’s flagship on Wyndham Street is absolutely the same level. Top notch and personal. I hope they keep it up!)
+ STREET STYLE // Saturday’s Surf NYC on Crosby Street
Yes, Saturday’s is an urban shop in New York City for those into surfing culture. I know… crazy right, because where can you actually surf in Manhattan!? While I was there, twice, during my last trip, I did witness a guy purchase a surfboard and then packing it up on the spot. So yes, in New York City, surf sells at Saturday’s Surf NYC.
Saturday’s is essentially a casual men’s shop selling “street style” with a splattering of elegant buttoned down looks and up-market T’s and sweatshirts. The reason why I support this local brand, which first opened its doors in 2009, is that while it speaks to a particularly niche and quirky customer (urbanites who are engrossed in surfing culture), its collection… from apparel, to bags, to shoes, to accessories, pretty much have a strong and consistent aesthetic base line which a broader design-focused demographic can appreciate. Everything is either grey, black, or primary colors in palette, and for the patterns or stripes that appear in their collection, it’s pretty bold in a pop art kind of way… yet clean and modern. This kind of stylistic integrity is a great position to be in, especially for a young brand wanting to make a mark in casual street wear.
Some of my favorite things about the shop… browsing Saturdays Magazine, the brand’s modern take on the classic surfer magazine and checking out the back garden where you can just sit and chill with a cup of delicious La Colombe coffee from their destination coffee shop in store.
+ ARMED CANDY // Miansai on Crosby Street
Miansai’s Crosby Street location in Nolita has only been operating for less than a year (opened in December 2013), but already it seems like the flagship has been there since the establishment of its brand in 2008. Founded in Miami, by New York born, Michael Saiger, Miansai’s men’s jewellery is now coolly retailed in 40 US States and 36 countries, including Mr. Porter (which ships internationally), and Kapok, Harvey Nichols, and Lane Crawford, here in Hong Kong.
The Crosby street location offers the full array of Miansai’s products, plus leather goods, with all items Made in the USA by its team of 30 craftsmen. If you’ve been shopping in Asia, and think you’ve seen all of what Miansai has to offer re: nautical themed bracelets, think again, this tiny shop in New York carries everything you’ve seen and so much more, including new designs, fixings, and clasps, recently launched for its 2014 collection of wares.
My favorite is the cuff design, made of .925 Sterling Silver, 14K Gold and Rose Gold, and for some items, 18K Gold. Have a sip and sit in the in-house tea room as you enjoy browsing and the trying on of all things Miansai. (FYI. You can also build your own bracelet.)
+ CURATED STYLE // Odin New York on Lafayette
10 year old menswear boutique, Odin, has been on the curated menswear scene way before menswear became a staple on everything from everyone’s Pinterest and TUMBLR boards, to their multiple-broque closets. Founded by partners, Paul Birardi (ex-buyer at Macy’s) and Eddy Chai (ex-advertising art director), Odin has held their own, courting working gents from all walks of life who care about fashion and style, plus now college students and even some female shoppers.
The store on Lafayette Street, a 2000 square foot, ex-Chinese Noodles factory, was a hands-on experience for the founders, building and designing everything themselves to house menswear multi-brands from the ground up. Since establishing the boutique, Odin has collaborated with American retail giants like Target, the Gap, and boutique labels like Matsuda, Rag & Bone, Common Projects, Mark McNairy, Alex Mill, Todd Snyder, and Engineered Garments.
The Lafayette Street shop offers personal styling services for a wide range of products available from the house’s own label to the likes of Thom Browne’s main line, which I bought a few pieces on sale.
+ ALL AROUND STYLE // Club Monaco Men’s on 5th
Not quite in Nolita and Bleecker (we’re talking 5th Avenue), but just a walk away from the iconic burger joint, Shake Shack in Madison Square Park where my friend Andy and I had our lunch, is the heaven that is Club Monaco’s 5th Avenue store. I don’t know about you, but I’m obsessed about all things Club Monaco (and its been a few years now), since I’ve done style collaborations with them in Hong Kong years ago and since their menswear line was taken on board by Menswear designer, Aaron Levine.
The 5th Avenue store is indeed a mecca for those who are “Club Monanites” (okay Made this moniker up) offering a full selection of CM classics, essentials, and specialty seasonal items in playful prints, colors, and elegant (ie. non baggy) and fitting menswear silhouettes. Accessories and outerwear complement easy to wear CM items from the brand and partner “Made-In-America” labels. Shoes include a great selection from Grenson and New Balance. The huge two-story store looks like an old-time Department Store from the turn of the century, and also fits a florist, a bookstore by the Strand, and an outpost by my favorite Williamsburg café, Toby’s, for those inclined to stay awhile after a full shopping experience.
+ GROOMING // Fellow Barber on Crosby St,
On Crosby Street adjacent to Miansai and Saturday’s, be sure to check out, Fellow Barber, one of four of these barber locations in New York City and Brooklyn. Fellow Barber is committed to offering all patrons a traditional barbershop experience without the pretense of a salon. Because everything is “traditional”, all Fellow Barbers are expertly trained to provide classic men’s cuts with straight-razor shaves.
The shop on Crosby Street carries a wide array of products, including shaving kits, body soaps, and moustache/beard wax for the discernible gentleman.
SHOP Black Fleece West Village . 351 Bleecker Street, New York NY 10014 . T: +12129292763 / SHOP Saturday’s Surf NYC . 31 Crosby Street, New York NY 10013 . T: +12129667875 / SHOP Miansai Nolita . 33 Crosby Street, New York NY . T: +12128589710 / SHOP Odin New York Nolita/SOHO . 199 Lafayette Street, New York NY . T: +12129660026 / SHOP Club Monaco on 5th Avenue . 160 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010 . T: +12123520936 / VISIT Fellow Barber Nolita . 33 Crosby Street, New York NY . T: +12129296014
After arriving in Mumbai’s fabulous new Terminal 2 Airport for a long three day weekend… I knew that any fears I had for visiting India for the first time would be allayed.
The futuristic airport, designed by SOM (Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill), recently opened its doors this January. Gone are the days of dealing with long insane queues (apparently I wouldn’t know) at immigration and having to dodge cows to get to the taxi. Nope, this airport, called the Chhatrapati Shivaji, defined by its sculptural concrete shells of its parametric architecture, creates a feeling of a calm forest. The shells are meant to represent an arrangement of a peacock’s feathers, the national bird of India. But we don’t care. It’s beautiful, it works as an international airport where most other countries fail, and best of all… it’s such a serene airport to arrive to and leave from. (If only if the staff were a bit chipper though!)
Of course things only got better as we discovered the rest of Bombay throughout our long Easter’s weekend. As it was our first time there, my strategy was to “Wanderlist”, by visiting heritage and cultural destinations, while also spotting the new, the cool, the modern, the NOW… which basically means its design spotting and shopping in parallel. (You can check out my previous post on Mumbai heritage here.)
+ MARKET // Chor Bazaar and Elephanta Island Markets
First off, in terms of “cool markets” it’s a tough call. There’s a bunch of tourist traps in the city you should avoid… ie. The Colaba Causeway Market adjacent to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The goods on offer there, a mixture of metallic globes, religious ganeshes, candle stands, and oil lamps, are produced on the cheap, and a hassle to get anything of good quality. May I suggest you visit the Elephanta Island Markets (on the pathway up to Elephanta Caves) if you want any of these kinds of gifts (which DUH… we did). All of the kitschy gifts are on offer and at a much better quality than Colaba Causeway… without the horrible hustlers bothering you. Elephanta IS a religious UNESCO world heritage site after all.
As it turns out, the most pleasant shopping experience we’ve had in the city, was a market that locals told us to avoid… the Thieves Market aka Chor Bazaar. We heard all the horror stories… ie. watch your pockets and they all sell stolen goods. Be that as it may, no one bothered us while we shopped endless alleys for vintage items, junks, and knick knacks you can’t find anywhere else. It was a sunny Sunday, and a generally calm and relaxed shopping experience. Everyone was respectful, polite, and friendly. I highly recommend the Chor Bazaar.
This is the place I got great silver and marble boxes.
There are no guard dogs… just guard goats… vicious they are.
You like glass and porcelain?
Tins and vintage signs?
Movie posters? It’s all here at Chor Bazaar.
+ VINTAGE // Bungalow Eight
I had a good quarrel with Jim over whether or not we should be “wasting” time visiting Bungalow Eight in Bombay. In his mind he didn’t see the point of coming all the way to Bombay if only to see the likes of Lindsay Lohan or Nicole Richie stomping around drunk. However, when I finally got him to look it up, he realised that it’s not the Bungalow 8 (as in the club in New York City), but Bombay’s “Bungalow Eight”, the first with the moniker in the world… an interior design haven of re-appropriated antiques and modern turn-of-the-century pieces, plus a dress and accessories shop of original Indian design.
When I asked the helpful staff where the name “Bungalow Eight” came from (since there are so many ridiculous nightclubs in the world which have since tainted the name), they told us that it was named after founder, Maithili Ahluwalia’s family home in India, having have no comments on the other establishments…
meaning they must be copycats.
On offer at the brand’s three-level 19th Century shophouse, are vintage homewares and furnitures on Level 1, childrens wear and textiles on Level 2, and fashion on Level 3 designed by a former group designer of Lanvin and Saint Laurent, Mathieu Gugumus Leguillon. The Jewellery on Level 3 is the work of Maithili’s mother, the iconic Jamini Ahluwalia. There’s not much here for menswear, but word on the street is… they will be launching a collection soon.
SHOP Bungalow Eight . Grants Building, 17 Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba, Mumbai -5, India . T:+91-2222819880
+ FASHION // Bombay Electric
Around the corner from Bungalow Eight is Bombay Electric, by far the coolest and most stylish independent fashion boutique we’ve visited in Bombay. The shop, which carries inspired styles in bold colors and prints for both ladies and gents, really captures the youthful energy of the city in its curated goods of Ready-to-wear items, costume jewellery, bags, and other design oriented gifts.
Around four people told me to check out this shop before shopping here, and i’m glad I did. Menswear had a buy 2-get 1 free deal that day and we just couldn’t resist.
According to their staff, Bombay Electric is a platform for design ideas and intersection for style exchange. Products on offer include fashion by great independent Indian designers such as Manish Arora Paris, Bodice, Pero, and jewellery by visionaries such as Aunterra, Amrapali, and Nitya Arora.
My pick? This great carry-all envelope bag by 11-11 made of recycled plastic for the exterior skin, and a nice quilted seersucker for the interior padding.
Definitely you can’t leave Mumbai without getting a dose of style at Bombay Electric.
SHOP Bombay Electric . 1 Reay House, BEST Marg, Colaba, Mumbai -1, India . T: +91-2222876276
+ DESIGN // Design Temple
Thanks to friends in both Hong Kong and India, we were lucky enough to be introduced to amazing designer, Divya Thakur, the founder and creative director of Design Temple. Divya launched Design Temple in 1999 and has since been represented by global design media as well as exhibiting her work in shows around the world. A darling of London’s Wallpaper* Magazine and a staple at Milan’s Salone Del Mobile, Divya’s work extrapolates Indian mythologies and brings these themes to life in her furnitures and prints, catering to a new generation of design aficionados both in India and abroad. When we met up with her at her shop, Divya was in preparation to set up an exhibition of new furnitures at the Nordic Hotel in Stockholm, which runs from now to the end of June this year.
Set in the historic Churchill Chambers building also in Colaba behind the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Divya’s shop carries a good selection of design items she’s created either alone or with collaborators, ready to take home as gifts for others or for yourself.
Jim and I both purchased Divya’s Lingam Candles to bring back to Hong Kong, however we also wanted to get our hands on her various cheeky prints and rugs… as well as a set of these cool stackable “Pillar Pods” which transform from a table and chair set, to one tall table.
Alas… maybe we’ll just have to wait until Divya sets up a global online store for these bigger purchases! We definitely thank Divya for her time chatting with us!
SHOP Design Temple . No2 Churchill Chambers, 32 Mereweather Road, Colaba, Mumbai -1, India . T: +91-2222821001
+ SHIRTS // Obataimu
A few blocks away at the cool Kala Ghoda district behind the Prince of Wales museum, we made sure to have a delicious seafood lunch at Trishna’s (the best), and afterwards walked on to check out this really cool new shop called, Obataimu, which is Japanese-Engrish for “over time”.
Obataimu is the brainchild of its founder, designer Noorie Sadarangani, whom we met at her store. Heavily influenced by her travels and studies of the Japanese philosophy of “Wabi-Sabi”, an aesthetic movement celebrating slow art and individuality, Noorie’s 600 sq.ft. shop also houses an atelier and tailoring school where customers can work with in-house tailors to build a wardrobe of easy to wear shirts, trousers, and dresses of a cotton-viscose mix. All fashion items in the store are samples only, and new ones for you can be produced only after measurements have taken place.
Of course this all part of her “Obataimist” way of life, a focus on using the time beyond the building of the product itself to transfer information, knowledge, and study, from shopkeeper, to customer, to tailor, in an effort to elevate contemporary consumption towards a level of an artisan relationship.
Unfortunately if you want something to-go and purchase clothes on-the-spot, it won’t work since that consumist attitude will have to be set aside. According to Noorie, the making of a shirt can take an average of up to five days. Goods can be picked up at the shop or delivered to your home… in India or anywhere else in the world.
Oh yes… she also produces furniture and light installations.
SHOP Obataimu. Shop G3 Machinery House, 11B. Bharucha Marg, opposite The Pantry, at Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400023 . T: +91-84548445854
+ The Rest Of The Best // Other cool places you need to check off on your ultimate Bombay #wanderlist…
Support the local design industry and purchase their naughty greeting cards from FILTER at the Kala Ghoda District…
Cool off with a signature iced coffee at The Pantry Cafe also at Kala Ghoda…
Have a bite of an epic vegetarian kebab at the historic Bademiya stand behind the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel…
And pamper yourself with an ultimate “Warriors Massage” at the Jiva Grande Club Spa at the Taj Wellington Mews.
That’s not all that’s available TO DO in Bombay, but if you follow this #Wanderlist, visiting these places and neighborhoods is a surefire way to get acquainted with all that’s cool in India’s best modern metropolis.
SPECIAL THANKS TO: Emmanuel Balayer Consultancy Services in Mumbai and Fe Valvekens of A Day With Fe in Hong Kong for introducing me to the amazing people that made for a wonderful Mumbai itinerary. Also thanks to Sheetal Pritmani from MILK Shirts for more cool advice on where to go and what to do in the city.
SHOP Filter Shop . 43 V.B. Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Behind Rhythm House, Mumbai -1, India . T: +91-2222887070 / EAT The Pantry Cafe . Yeshwant Chambers . GF, Military Square Lane, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai -1, India . T: +91-2222678901 / EAT Bademiya . Shop No. 7,8,9 Botawala Building, Horniman Cir, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai -1, India . T: +91-2261612371 / SPA Jiva Grand Club at the Taj Wellington Mews . No.33 Nathalal Perekh Marg, Colaba, Mumbai -1, India . T: +91-2266569494