Busting Out on Bleecker Street – New York Social Diary

Bleecker Street is back with a crop of new boutiques. On a recent Saturday, this corner of the Village was super crowded with shoppers and people enjoying a gorgeous day. Stores were bustling, as were cafes and restaurants. There have been many articles in various publications (Women’s Wear Daily and Bloomberg to name two) about the new interest in shopping in person, and the flatlining of online retail. These new shops are different breeds than the ones that proliferated after Marc Jacobs first made Bleecker a must-shop destination. For one, they are not offering clothing at designer price points, but rather seem aimed at the local residents and college students. And they offer experiences you cannot find online.
Some new businesses are helping their owners enter retail. Brookfield Properties owns some of the retail spaces on the street and are offering favorable rents to foster new brands who will hopefully fill their larger malls one day (hooray for long term thinking!). And companies, such as Leap, partner with designers, manage their new stores, and offer expertise that the brands may not yet have. It is a win-win.
Astr, The Label, is a case in point. They partnered with Leap in this largish boutique on Bleecker. The shops tend to be small as they are located in 19th-century red brick townhouses. Astr, however, has a double width space joined with an attractive arch. The West Coast company produces a collection with many components.
There are sweaters and knit dressing, casual and dressier dresses, jackets, skirt and tops.
Coats come in tweeds and plaids, as well as quilted nylon. The prints and patterns work well together.
The price point is a moderate one with a contemporary feel, meaning that nothing is too expensive. The looks are fun and nothing is complicated. The clothing is arranged by color, for a harmonious look.
The brand also specializes in wedding and bridesmaid’s dresses. The look is casual and dressy, but not too dressy. Fun. Dressing up is back, and it is looking good.
Astr, 345 Bleecker Street
Wyld Blue is on the next block. A stylish stylist (say it three times fast!) was hired by the Surf Lodge in Montauk to make things fun and interesting. She did just that, and developed some special retail experiences. Her latest is now open on Bleecker. The store has a little bit of everything, and all of it with Wyld Blue’s owner’s taste.
There are jewelry and homeware, hats and sunglasses. Vintage clothing is in romantic whites, and luxury vintage handbags and suitcases dot the boutique.
There is a nice mix of books scattered around like friends in a home. The pieces of furniture and tableware have a rustic vibe.
Men’s and women’s styles are mostly in neutrals this season. Most of the clothing is priced in the contemporary range. Straw bags and hats are also favorites of the owner.
Kids dress well here, too. And there is a standing shelf just for dollhouses and toys. Boots and slippers and shoes abound.
The merchandise is displayed artfully. From a cozy teddy bear to an artistic chess set, there is a very wide range of interesting merchandise to discover here. Much more fun than shopping online.
You could spend hours here investigating all the nooks, shelves and racks. Wyld Blue has a distinctive look that is very new and very now.
Wyld Blue, 350 Bleecker Street
Isalis is a tiny boutique full of fun things. A sister store in Nolita is even smaller. Both stores are popular, and almost always come stocked with customers.
Originally from San Francisco, the store is packed with lots of punchy pieces that will add fun to a wardrobe. The prices are moderate, and the looks are upbeat.
The shoes and boots are on target fashion-wise, and not over the top.
Merchandise turns quickly. There are always new looks being unpacked.
Denim comes printed and solid. The store sells lots of items, each with its own tale to tell.
Isalis, 353 Bleecker Street
Bag-All is another itty-bitty boutique. Another outpost is in Nolita. The premise is quite clever. Labelled bags for every need. And everything is lovingly displayed.
Tech, make-up, hair products, passports. They make bags for each and every need and occasion, making your travels and packing easy. You can get more things in your suitcases this way.
The decor is fun, too. A monogram machine sits in the front window, so you can have everything personalized. And the brand plants a tree for every monogram sold. Shopping for good.
As you read the labels on the bags, you can see that they all might be useful. It is a simple idea very nicely executed. Put some order back in your life.
Bag-All, 353 Bleecker Street
Hanky Panky is a fun-loving and inexpensive lingerie brand. Thy opened their first boutique on Bleecker Street. The dressing room labels are tongue in cheek.
Pretty much everything is on display. The decoration of the store uses colors nicely to make the space feel more open and larger than it is. And the decor and the garments mix well.
Hank Panky wants you to live comfortably, and colorfully, in their garments.
Hanky Panky, 370 Bleecker Street
Blue&Cream is a rapidly expanding lifestyle brand that is of the moment. Its first boutiques were in East Hampton and on the Bowery in Nolita. The newest location is on Bleecker Street in a rather funky West Village building.
The clothes are easy to wear and very trendy. The space is pretty evenly divided between men’s and women’s clothing.
Sweaters and tees for women are at the front of the store. There are some cheeky hats as well.
The sweats are not your average leisure wear. They do make a cool statement. Towards the back are fun tees, including lots of rock tees. Sneakers are tucked into niches above the hanging clothing.
Men’s clothing is on the other side of the shop. The soft dressing premise is the same  for both men and women. It’s a formula that seems to be working.
There are jeans and other hard pieces towards the back of the store. And a small selection of sneakers is located back here, too. All the right brands are in the mix.
Children are catered to as well. Dress them in the brands you wear. Golden Goose sneakers? Why not. Even the youngest ones can dress stylishly. Finally somewhere cool for the kids to shop.
Blue&Cream, 409 Bleecker Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.  


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