The Lower East Side – or as locals call it, the LES – is best known for its wild nightlife. This Manhattan neighbourhood has gone through a lot of reinventions; what began as a haven for European immigrants became a hotbed of muggings and druggings in the 1970s, before the gentrification reinvented it as New York’s weekend destination for those on the hunt for alcohol and hook-ups.
But come sun-up, it’s a neighbourhood that’s forging a rep as a retail mecca, thanks to a swathe of boutiques bubbled up in the party people’s wake. Sandwich your shopping with a visit to one of our favourite haunts for soothing last night’s hangover, and others where you can ease into tomorrow’s.
Where To Shop
By Robert James
Provenance is the word at By Robert James. The Americana interior of its brick and mortar store houses a collection of locally-made pieces, like the Bond F15 dress shirts ($248), which are ideal for easing the transition from office to bar, and punkier gear, like the Men Of Steel tees ($48), which nod to the Lower East Side’s less salubrious history.
If you’re in the city for a while, the store’s bespoke suits start at $1,700, and are designed and tailored on the store’s second floor. While you’re being measured, take time to peruse the on-display vinyl collection for rock classics and deep cuts from the 1960s and 1970s.
74 Orchard St, (212) 253-2121; byrobertjames.com
Decorated like a professor’s office, Self Edge does just one thing, but it does it damn well: high-quality (and hard to cop) Japanese-made denim – like the Shearer Indigo Jean ($299), which is styled on Aussie sheep-handlers’ trousers that offer room in the thighs but taper down the leg.
Self Edge will even fit, repair and restore all your denim pieces in-house. Just be prepared to receive a lecture on the fabric’s history while they’re at it.
157 Orchard St, (212) 388-0079; selfedge.com
Reed Space’s huge (at least by NYC standards) retail space is a rare spot where you can pick up Huf socks ($90), a Stussy hoodie ($100) and a coffee table tome on photorealism ($90), all while attending an art show.
With a schizophrenic décor that bounces between industrial, thrift shop and luxury, it’s no surprise that the store also has one of the most diverse collections of streetwear in all of New York.
151 Orchard St, (212) 253-0588; thereedspace.com
Only NY’s bright and airy store houses some of the city’s best streetwear, as true New Yorkers know; the brand recently collaborated with the City of New York for an exclusive collection, which included pieces like the Central Park Athletics Tee ($34) and Parks skate deck ($50).
Which is perhaps why Only NY is also such a hit with savvy tourists, whose view of souvenirs stretches beyond an ‘I Heart NY’ tee.
176 Stanton St, (646) 649-5673; onlyny.com
The curated collection in ØDD’s uber sleek space is not for wallflowers. With pieces like Vivienne Westwood Climate Revolution Sneakers ($333), Viktor & Rolf Foil-Press Denim ($203), and Y/Project’s Mirror Hoodie ($256), the store’s ever-changing selection is ideal for fashion risk takers with an avant-garde spirit. And deep pockets.
164 Ludlow St, (212) 777-0990; thisisodd.nyc
Where To Drink
You have to go through some hoops to get in, but this speakeasy offers some of the best cocktails in the city, all at the bartender’s discretion ($17).
134 Eldridge St, no telephone
Where To Sleep
SIXTY Lower East Side
A boutique hotel with sleek, modern guest rooms (starting at $197), a spa and pool, and multiple bars and restaurants, it’s a hidden gem in a neighbourhood otherwise lacking in places to post-up.
190 Allen St, (877) 460-8888; sixtyhotels.com
Where To Caffeinate
This 2,000-square-foot spot is always filled with freelancers, writers and artists sipping on Blue Bottle coffee and enjoying house-made pastries.
175 Orchard St, (646) 682-9065
Where To Eat
Louie And Chan
An Italian and Asian restaurant that makes the marriage work with dishes like uni tagliatelle and spicy blue crab pizza – not to mention 35-cent cocktails on Tuesdays.
303 Broome St, (212) 837-2816; louieandchan.com
Where To Get Cultured
Not only is it one of the most engaging museums in the city, but you’ll leave feeling overjoyed that you don’t have to live like an LES immigrant in the 1800s.
103 Orchard St, (212) 982-8420; tenement.org