May 20, 2010

The 2010 Shopper

As we live in a world of excess, mass-market retailers and global conglomerates are the leading figures of today's retail industry. However, as it is with any trend, there is always a backlash. And this past year, we have noticed a growing number of smaller, personalized boutique shops popping up all over major cities, creating intimate shopping experiences for those who want to purchase something that hasn't been replicated by the thousands.

photo via: J.Crew

It seems that as we live in such a globally-saturated, technology-driven society, consumers today want something different in their shopping experience. Rather than going to five floor department stores carrying every brand known to man, cosy settings with small, carefully selected products displayed with crafty art installations seem to be the preferred choice. And it is not just the local, underground shops, well-recognized stores like Anthropologie, the J. Crew Men's Liquor Store, and ABC Home have been much about keeping that intimate store atmosphere, despite the number of their chain stores.

As there are rapid expansions of chain store retailers all over the globe, there is a new, deeper value for things that are local, hand-made, limited, or one-of-a-kind. Although such products may be a bit more costly, consumers today are more careful about their purchases and want something that is special. Because there are so many options for practically everything nowadays, the infinite number of purchasing choices have created a more educated consumer; one who is more particular of what he or she buys, and willing to pay more if it deems worth. With the economic recession and the last several years of globalization and mass-consumption, there is less concern for buying the latest brand name and instead, a greater interest of things that carry a unique story behind it's exterior.

Guy Wolff pottery at Restoration Hardware 

Commercial brands such as J. Crew, Urban Outfitters, and Restoration Hardware, for example, have taken note and recently began collaborations with smaller designers and artists to bring in something unique to their collections. J. Crew just released it's small collection of chain necklaces made in collaboration with NYC-based Dana Lorenz, designer of FENTON and FALLON. Restoration Hardware is selling hand-thrown pottery designed by Connecticut-based artisan Guy Wolff. And Urban Outfitters works with a number of independent designers, with current exclusives from New York designer Ulla Johnson and the NY-LA boutique The Reformation. Although these retail stores still largely carry mass-market products, these small additions help them to stand out amongst the big name brands, while also offering competitive products against the local boutique shops.

And as online shopping is on the rise, there are several websites dedicated to providing hand-made or one-of-a-kind goods. Etsy, the social commerce site is all about building an economy that reconnects makers with buyers, taking advantage of the Internet to allow independent artists, designers, and craftsmen to sell their work in a global market. Culture Label is another, recognizing the importance of a cultural product, carrying handpicked items from artists all over the world. Offering what they call "products with soul", the founders behind Culture Label understand the need for purchases that are beyond mainstream and original in design, integrity, and authenticity.

So for those of us in New York needing to go on a shopping venture, there are a number of great, promising shops that are just walking distances away, and definitely worth checking out. Here we leave you with a short list of our favorites and recently new finds, and we'd love it if you can drop a note and give us your recommendations!

photo via: Albertine
Albertine, 13 Christopher Street

photo via: Refinery29
Maryam Nassir Zadeh, 123 Norfolk Street

photo via: Yatzer
Droog, 76 Greene Street

photo via: Refinery29
No. 6, 6 Centre Market Place

photo via: Refinery29
Kiosk, 95 Spring Street 

photo via: Refinery 29
Pixie Market, 100 Stanton Street

photo via: The Choosy Beggar
King of Greene St, 72 Greene St. 


  1. Great posting. Refreshing to see a return to intimacy in the world of retail.

  2. I agree, very interesting posting, I love the idea of creating an intimate atmosphere and offering product that tugs at the heart strings, otherwise I'll just shop at H&M and Target :)

  3. I agree as well, thanks for a great post. We are doing this at arctic trend as well. We offer a very personal shopping experience at our trend office / shop were we have unusual shopping hours, VIP and Special events, for example fundraising events. We only sell labels that we love. Especially labels with a story.


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