34th Street Style

Make your way through this Midtown stretch, where some of the biggest outposts from global brands have set up shop

On the east side of the city crossing just over to the west, 34th Street runs as a wide thoroughfare lined with hotels and home design stores, delis and slice shops. Fittingly in the midst of all the high and low, it’s also where shoppers come to fill their closets with staples and styles from some of the world’s most beloved brands.

The empire that now includes Old Navy, Piperlime, Banana Republic, Intermix, and Athleta all started with one store that opened in San Francisco in 1969: The Gap. Originally selling just Levis and LPs, the store is now a favorite for its own brand of denim along with all the closet staples every man, woman, or child could possibly need, especially here, where The Gap, BabyGap, GapKids, GapMaternity and Gap Body interconnect into one massive Gap mecca. Keeping the vibe as simple as its logo, the interior is pared down with white walls, wooden accents, and Motown music, making it pleasurable rather than overwhelming to peruse everything from argyle socks to silk blouses to tables piled high with sweaters and scarves for chillier months ahead. (34St. at Broadway)

There’s good reason Swedish brand H&M turned into a global phenomenon with a cult-like following: its prices are low and its styles bar none, high design brought to the mass market. As the second largest clothing retailer in the world, it operates one of its largest Manhattan stores here on Herald Square with its ever-cool ads plastering its exterior beckoning buyers from avenues away (this location is often favored over the nearby locale on Seventh Avenue). Whether you’re in search of a low-back halter or chic printed pants, a graphic V-neck tee or slim-fit jacket, rest assured you can find it here—and it will look twice as expensive than it actually is. And as the stock constantly changes to keep up with the trends, that only means one thing: there’s always a sale, too. (34th St. at Sixth Ave.)

From street-style icons to street artists, everyone shops at Zara. The Spain-based brand never fails to take each season’s runway looks and reinterpret them in a way that is wearable and affordable for average buyers—albeit, those that pay attention to their image. Shoppers are greeted with hip music and mannequins clad in cooler-than-thou looks amping up professional staples with daring statements—think a sleek turtleneck with a leather bomber for men, or a tie-at-the-neck with an embellished mini for women. Intermixed into all the designer-inspired pieces, however, are ethnic nods, like ikat-printed tees or pashmina scarves. As the brand now has stores everywhere from Italy to Indonesia, it’s only fitting. (34th St. nr. Sixth Ave.)

Often billed as the Ikea of clothing, Japanese brand Uniqlo has an answer to every need, a fit for every form. A department store of basics, it’s organized by color, material, and style, making the store astoundingly easy to navigate given three sizable levels. Tables of button downs start with basic white and progress to gingham in boyfriend-fit; tees come in packages, fine-spun cotton, and everything in between; even underwear ranges from the basics to the un-speakables. The problem here is realizing all that your wardrobe is missing. A gray mohair sweater? Acid-wash straight-leg jeans? Luckily, one thing is always certain: whatever you buy will never go out of style. (34th St. nr. Sixth Ave.)