So yesterday, after a big, long, gossipy lunch on Lafayette Street with one of my favorite New York people, book editor (and proto-Girl of a Certain Age) Sarah Crichton, I headed south toward Center Market Place, looking for inspiration.
I ended up at No. 6, where most everything was marked down and the staff was congregated toward the back of the store, unpacking new Fall arrivals. I didn’t get an exceptionally close look, can tell you with some degree of confidence that if you like a sequin, you’ll be liking what No. 6 has going on for Fall.
No. 6 has made a fortune off of their clog boots, which every year I think I might buy a pair of and then every year I don’t. They fall under the heading of Things That Look Cute On Others But Not At All on Me.
It’s impossible to actually buy anything but clogs on the No. 6 website, which is SO annoying, because they’ve got some fantastically beautiful stuff in that store (like this pretty back-button sundress, for example). The in-house line is both feminine and avant, and the other designers they’ve chosen to include are, for the most part, edgy but still quite wearable. And the jewelry is to die. Still, one must be vigilant.
At No 6, it’s way too easy to get caught up in the spirit of the place and say to yourself: You know what? Maybe I could actually pull off a silk jumpsuit.
So off I went. And, upon hitting a particular block of Spring Street, saw a brand new Splendid store. Nearby, workers were putting the finishing touches on a Michael Stars boutique, and, farther down a bit, a big sign in an empty storefront announced that it was the future home of a Sam Edelman shop. It’s not like I have anything against any of those brands. I actually like them all. And you know, it’s pointless to bemoan Soho’s death as a destination for interesting, indie retail: it happened. It’s here. But still.
And yet, happily, Spring Street is still home to a couple of delightfully loopy stores—the longest-standing of which is Evolution.
I’d lived in New York for years before a friend dragged me into the weird and wonderful universe of Evolution, a place where, if the spirit moves you, you can pick up a taxidermy of a rattlesnake head. Is somebody you know in the market for a replica gorilla skull? Because Evolution’s got that covered too.
But what I’m most drawn to are their insect displays. You can buy them ready-made, like this pretty one of butterflies, or go the customized route. Which is definitely what I—with my constant need for clean color palettes—would have to do. (Think about if you took those three yellow and black butterflies in the far-right column and built from there? Would that not have the potential to be kind of awesome?)
Or maybe you’d prefer a whole mess of insects? Evolution actually employs licensed entomologists on staff, which I find rather impressive.
They’ve also got all manner of crystal and mineral and stuff. I love these agate bookends.
On to Kiosk, which is weird and wonderful in its own, very different, way. It’s hidden on the second floor of a building near the corner of Spring and Broadway, and you must ascend a very creaky old staircase to get there.
One of my big retail peeves is how often people throw around the word “curate” to describe the act of selecting goods to be sold in places of commerce. And yet I have no problem thinking of the owners of Kiosk as dedicated and rigorous curators.
The husband and wife team who own Kiosk are dedicated to rooting out beautiful and interesting everyday items from around the world. It’s been called an “anti-design shop,” and that’s kind of exactly right. Most everything they sell is exceptionally well-priced, and their website is an excellent source for gifts—for others and oneself. I love a lot of the stuff just for its awesome packaging alone —like this German “nerve tonic.”
Likewise, this Portugese toothpaste, whose old-school packaging is so distinctly not of our culture. Can you imagine if Crest came in the same tube as it did in 1958?
I’d buy this Japanese Carpenter’s knife for the box alone and definitely never take it out, because that thing looks dangerous.
The Kiosk team does theme collections, one of which was Northern California. They saw these earrings on a waitress in Marin County when they were on a scouting trip, and she pointed them right down the road to the jeweler who made them.
How very, very clever is this travel thread kit?
And I love these Hand towels, which they picked up on a trip to India.
They’ve also got a collection of classic Bread and Puppet protest posters from the 60s, which really take you back, no?