Bleecker is Back, Baby!

by Barbara Hodes and NYC Private Shopping Tour Photographed by Barbara Hodes
Tuesday, October 2, 2018


I was taking a walk down Bleecker Street several weeks ago, and noticed that there were new stores opening, and new construction going on in more of them. It turns out that Brookfield Property—yes, the company that owns malls—is totally ahead of the curve. They have purchased 7 storefronts and are working with small, interesting brands to build a new retail concept. In a very smart move, they have turned Bleecker Street into an incubator for brands that will hopefully grow and populate their other properties in the future. Brookfield has also partnered with Skylight, Chashama, and Drilling Company to bring art projects, music and other projects to bring the luster back to one of the most iconic shopping streets in the city. The concept is called Love, Bleecker. And it’s easy to love. Stop into a shop with a dedicated pianist playing and write your homage or salute to the street. Enjoy street musicians, and projects like artist-wrapped trees, enjoy the art and cultural programs. Take a look at some of these new brands, as well as a few that staked their creative claim here in the last year or so. Visit Bonberi and grab some plant-based snacks, or line up for your Magnolia cupcake fix, then start exploring. Welcome back Bleecker Street, and kudos to Brookfield.

Prabal Gurung (367 Bleecker St.) is an award winning New York designer, the CFDA Swarovski Womenswear Award among them. He was born in Singapore, raised in Nepal, came to New York to study, and premiered his collection in 2009. The Prabal Gurung line is carried in the best stores world-wide. In this new store, where there’s an eye-pleasing riot of colorful designs and a reflection of his exotic upbringing, you can find the complete collection in one place. Having dressed Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge, among many others, his clothes are as sophisticated as they are tasteful and optic. A new men’s wear line is launching as well as the Atelier Prabal Gurung offering made-to-measure clothing. The design of the store is refreshing, filled with glass sculptural lighting. Sequins and feathers sit with light-as-air dresses and colorful outerwear. Stock up on T’s that project his colorful, feminist power vibe. 80% of the product is made in New York as Mr. Gurung supports the made-locally movement. Discover a cashmere collection from Nepal as well. Mr Gurung loves taking a good risk, and will up your style quotient risk free when you shop here.

One of the first stores to open here earlier this year was an internet-based footwear collection that is fun to shop and offers a unique service. Margaux (387 Bleecker Street) is the brainchild of two women, Alexa Buckley and Sarah Pierson. They offer a very unique approach to shopping for shoes in a small specially decorated space. There are four models offered at the moment. You can choose from three standard widths and look at a vast rainbow color-wheel, decide what you want, and have your shoes shipped to you in a day or two. The flats and the short heels are elegant, comfortable, affordable and practical. If their assortment does not fit your feet, the shoes are also offered made to measure. You can use the measuring kit that is in the store (photo thanks to Kristen Francis) or order your kit on line, take your measurements, and your custom made shoes will arrive in 8-10 weeks. The shoes are made from Italian leather in Spain. I’m going for the animal print heels, but the only challenge to shopping here is deciding which of the many colors you want. At the end of the day, maybe it’s just easier not to wear yourself out and get a few colors in several styles.

Slightly Alabama (350 Bleecker Street) offers handmade leather accessories that guys and girls will love. Founded by Dana Glaeser in 2013, the new Bleecker Street shop features artwork by Chelsea Browne. There is a workshop at the back of the store, where you can see the some of the product being made. Bags, wallets, journals, belts, phone covers, lifestyle and office pieces, and even presents for your dog are made in New York. The leather is tanned in America using vegetable or chromium tanning to produce a refine rugged looking product. The look is traditional, but the spirit is modern. The craftspeople that make the product are trained in the local workrooms. The store also carries a sneaker collaboration, vintage plaid shirts, denims and apothecary items that complement the aesthetic of the leather goods. Work with the owner and the design studio to develop custom pieces and one of a kind corporate gifts. The experience is as about as authentic as you can find. Stop by the store for the musical events that will be held here.

Rhie, (238 West 11th Street—right off of Bleecker) was opened in 2017 by Rie Yamagata. An LA native, she studied design in New York and at London’s famous Central St. Martins’s, and then worked in New York and Japan. She designs with a sense of humor and created a short film that won the Milan Fashion Film Festival Award, as well as the Berlin Fashion Film Award. The film features Sonja Kinski, a muse of the designer, who is Nastassia Kinski’s daughter. View the short film here: 


The winner’s prize is in the store- a unique Fornasetti covered urn. The Rhie collection was started in 2011 and is sold across Asia and the US. The collection is for an artistically-inclined woman. The clothes are produced in New York and Asia from Italian and Japanese materials. Knitwear, jackets, dresses, skirts and pants that are pieced together with a non-industry attitude. The store is adding new categories for fall, and later in the month will bring a fine art exhibit featuring Beverly Semmes later in the month. Discover this hidden gem.

If you are a Life is A Beach kind of person, then Sunni Spencer (371 Bleecker Street) is a must visit shop. It has been open for several years, and was one of the first to pioneer the new Bleecker Street. Offering an Apres Sea vibe 12 months a year, and a plethora of fun and useful items. Of course there are bathing suits, caftans and cover-ups for those glam days at the beach. Where else would you find water and boat-friendly float-worthy espadrilles, or numerous humorous and bright beach bags, jewelry and other accessories? The store is also filled with all sorts of unique home décor and entertaining accessories. This is truly a lifestyle destination for every SEAson. Sunni Spencer also offers design services, as well as custom floral arrangements. Once you sea the store, and how it infuses home décor and furnishings with clothing and accessories, you will understand why her devoted clientele book appointments to curate their beach-ready looks. And when the season shifts from summer to fall and beyond, a visit to Sunni Spencer can cheer up even the dreariest winter day.

NYC Private Shopping Tour is a new shopping column, covering retail exclusively for


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