NEW YORK: EAST VILLAGE
Boundaries: Six, Seventh and Eighth Streets between Third Avenue and Avenue A.
Rent: Highly dependent on the landlord, but average $900 to $1,200 a month.
When it was born: It was big in the Eighties and then died out. Revival started about two years ago.
Customer: Customers’ ages range from early teens to 30s and the perennially hip at any age. Shoppers include college students from nearby New York University and Cooper Union; lots of club kids and young post-college types that work in music, magazines and television.
Preferred look: No typical career clothes here — lots of hip-hop, remade vintage styles and very fast cutting-edge fashion.
Top shops: House, FAB 208, Kane & Onyx, Trash & Vaudeville and Daryl K.
Kane & Onyx is also the name of the two designers whose line is carried in the shop. They have been in the East Village six years, moving to Seventh Street two years ago. The designer’s cutting table sits right behind the racks of black and white vinyl jeans, ottoman knit minidresses and silver and gold sparkling tops. Retail prices range from $40 to $175.
FAB 208, a 500-square-foot shop, carries mostly remade vintage merchandise, and some new FAB 208 label T-shirts and miniskirts. The owners, husband and wife team Jo and Alan Smith, have been in the neighborhood for three years, moving into the Seventh Street location last September. Some of the most popular looks right now are corduroy jeans, velour shirts and vintage skiwear. Nothing in the store sells for more than $50. House, a 400-square-foot shop owned by Del Jones and Kristen Johnson, has been on Seventh Street for five years. House specializes in hip-hop and casual streetwear such as corduroy jeans, polar fleece hats and T-shirts. Prices range from $20 for a T-shirt to $200 for a suede jacket. House logo hats and T-shirts, designed by Jones and Johnson, are sold in the shop and at wholesale.
Trash & Vaudeville, owned by Ray Goodman, is one of the oldest of its kind in the neighborhood and has been in business for 20 years. The 4,000-square-foot, two-story shop carries the latest fashion and hip-hop looks, including vinyl miniskirts, latex shirts and leather corsets. The store also has a big shoe department with an extensive selection of Dr. Martens. The shop primarily carries its own label called Tripp and lines from England. The hottest price point is under $40.
Boundaries: Ashland Avenue on the east, Damen Avenue on the west, Armitage Avenue on the north and Division Street on the south. The crossroad is the intersection of Damen, Milwaukee and North Avenues.
Rent: About $1 per square foot
History: At the turn of the century, it was the classiest close-in city neighborhood, block after block of vintage rowhouses and Victorian gingerbread mansions. Today, it’s a boho paradise of galleries, bars and coffeehouses four subway stops west of the Loop.
Customer: From school kids to older hipsters, tourists, people from other parts of the city.
Preferred look: Vintage, denim, flannel, leather, anything unusual.
Top shops: Two stores that are leading the way: Le Garage and Pentimento. Le Garage, at 1649 North Damen, is a 900-square-foot boutique owned by Benoit Pilault. He choose Bucktown “because it’s hot, hot, hot.”
“It’s the crossroads for Chicago,” he said. “Everybody comes here.”
Pilault carries mainly denim tops and bottoms, about half of which are vintage. The main label is Levi’s, but the store also does big business in Big Smith flannel shirts and vintage leather jackets.
Several blocks away at 1629 North Milwaukee Avenue is Pentimento, a 1,200-square-foot boutique owned by Elizabeth Carlisle. Carlisle is also a designer, and about 20 percent of the merchandise is her own. The rest is all by Chicago designers such as Alice Berry and House of Sky. She carries dresses, suits and jackets. “My customers want something a little unusual, whether it’s interesting shapes, antique or handloomed fabrics or special detailing,” she said.
DALLAS: DEEP ELLUM
Boundaries: Elm Street is the busiest strip and the northern border of the neighborhood. From there, Deep Ellum sprawls south to Canton Street, west to Good-Latimer Expressway and east to Hall Street.
Rent: $8 to $10 per square foot for prime spots on Elm Street and as low as $1 per foot on the fringes of the neighborhood.
History: The old commercial district next to downtown became a hangout for punks about 10 years ago, but has since mellowed. The name comes from the drawled pronunciation of “Elm” in the Twenties, when the street bustled with jazz and blues clubs.
Customer: Teens, college kids and hippies-turned-yuppies from Dallas and the ‘burbs.
Preferred look: The handful of fashion merchants there now trade in offbeat styles that typically sell for $18 to $99.
Top shops: Moda on Elm specializes in funky shoes, nightclub garb and retro-style clothing. Topping apparel sales is Lip Service, a unisex collection of silver, copper and black vinyl pleated skirts, jeans and jackets. Slinky dresses and baby Ts by Man Trap also are hot.
A few doors down, Planet Slix ventures into bondage territory and prospers with steamy styles like strappy leather-and-chain bodysuits by X.T.C. and skimpy, clingy Atomic Age dresses. On the other side of Elm Street, Casa Loco sells mostly used clothing from the Sixties and Seventies. “I can’t keep bell-bottoms in here — they go so fast,” said owner Tara McCann. 75226, a small boutique in a less-trafficked spot on Main Street, vends more mainstream women’s lines like Tadashi, Michi and Firenze to cross-dressers and tourists. “The men buy the expensive stuff, and the women like you and me buy the cheap, sexy things,” said owner Felisha Walker. “The men — they dress to impress.”
LOS ANGELES: LA BREA AVENUE
Boundaries: Between Second Street andBeverly Boulevard.
Rent: Average $2 a square foot.
When it was born: Formerly a strip of used and new auto dealers, La Brea Avenue has evolved within the last ten years into a neighborhood of cutting-edge art, furniture, home accessories stores and coffeehouses.
Customer: The junior and young-minded, from school kids to young professionals.
Preferred look: Streetwear, vintage, retro.
Top shops: The Swell Store, American Rag Cie., Stüssy Union, and 26 Red selling their own lines and more.
American Rag Compagnie’s General Manager Ron Goldstein said, “We have an extremely diverse and varied customer base. The ages, socioeconomics and ethnicities all vary.”
Hot lines at the store include Double RL, Diesel and American Rag Compagnie, both new items and vintage alterations (currently made under the same label, but designed under the American Rag Diffusion division of the company).
The Swell Store’s fan base is between the ages of 20 and 30. Joel Fitzpatrick, the owner of the store and designer for featured line Pleasure Swell, said, “Even though I make novelty clothing, it’s all quality and has a good sense of humor. I’m exploring fifties kitsch. And it’s aimed at the funky young adult.”
26 Red carries retro and hip-hop clothes that appeal to the young and hip from ages 12 to 35. Hot lines at the store include 26 Red, 5 Crown, Spot and Spot Girl.
Stüssy Union owner Eddie Cruz said: “This area of La Brea attracts a more serious customer than most blocks on Melrose. We have hip, serious, in-tune people here because of the art galleries, quality clothing stores and restaurants.” Some of his hottest selling items include Stüssy Sista 12 oz. jeans ($82 retail), striped cap-sleeve knit tops ($36 retail) and A-line skirts ($72 retail); Jewels and Jem shoulderless dresses with back ties ($90-$132 retail) and Hysteric Glamour screen-printed logo T-shirts ($72-$90 retail).
ATLANTA: LITTLE FIVE POINTS
Boundaries: Cross section between Mooreland and Euclid Avenues, just east of downtown Atlanta.
Rent: Average $13 to $16 per square foot.
When it was born: Started “happening” in the early 1980s.
Customer: Weekdays: Local high school kids and college students from Emory University, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and community colleges. On weekends, add curious tourists, young post-college professionals and even young moms with kids.
Preferred Look: Grunge, gothic, hip-hop, and hippie. Suits are virtually nonexistent.
Top shops: Throb, Junkman’s Daughter, Clothing Warehouse, Zoog and Wish.
Zoog, a four-month-old, 2,000-square-foot shop, caters to the older side of LFP. It carries men’s and women’s apparel by local designer Rene Sanning, who also owns another shop in LFP called Rene Rene. She also carries a few other local designers, such as Goga.
The customers include college students, college grads that used to shop Rene Rene and LOTS of band stylists. They come to Zoog for little skirts, crop tops, fitted jackets and retro dresses. Wish, a two-month-old shop with a mix of lines, offers something for everyone in the LFP scene. Lines include Diesel, New Breed and Betsey Johnson. The customers are in high school and college and part of what the owners grudgingly refer to as “Generation X.” Items that sell well include oversize jeans, worker clothes, sexy clubwear, cute minis and anything that fits into that whole athletic thing.