These brands bring the best of French, UK, Spanish, and American styles to the streets of New York
Like a United Nations of shopping, all of the world’s top brands have claimed seats in New York, including those homegrown. Head to the flagship stores of these four brands, their stateside outposts where they put their best fashion forward, and will soon have you doing the same.
There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about European style—perhaps it’s that slightly vintage look attributable to London’s flea markets, perhaps it’s the effortless mix of high and low, testament to an appreciation of all things nice. If any brand embodies this, it’s UK-based French Connection, whose SoHo boutique is smart and contemporary, full of clothes equally so intermingled with those iconic and insouciant FCUK tees. From the brand’s Essential collections of well-fitting skinny jeans and tees made to last to season-less workwear and more daring designs—wide-legged paisley pants, sequin jumpsuits, heavily furred bombers—pieces here beg to be mixed and matched in creative ways. (West Broadway at Prince St.)
Created by French tennis champion René Lacoste, nicknamed “the Crocodile” for his on-court grit and gusto, the namesake reptile symbol of the French brand Lacoste has become synonymous with all things preppy. But since Felipe Oliveira Baptista took the design reigns in 2012, Lacoste has been expanding its classic sportswear into sexier waters with techy textiles, handsome leather sneakers, aviator-inspired shades, and borrowed-from-the-boys sweaters that look just as natural in the Riviera as downtown. The polo bar at its Fifth Avenue flagship carries the full line of pique shirts, ranging from pastels to rugby stripes, but filling the rest of the bright white space is everything else from runway looks to kids wear. (Fifth Ave. at 49th St.)
An argument could be made that Original Penguin is to the U.S. what Lacoste is to France. Ever since Seth Cohen repeatedly rocked the brand on the cult-soap opera The O.C., Penguin’s darling winged creature has been the logo of choice for men who like to dash their classic look with a dose of quirkiness. In its brand new 2,500-square-foot space in ever-cool NoHo, find slip-ons, crisp plaid button-ups, fitted corduroys, and ribbed cardigans filling walls of walnut wood. It’s a look—and lifestyle—equal parts lounge and library. (Broadway nr. Bond St.)
The question is not who shops at Zara, but rather, who doesn’t? From pleated pants to stilettos, eyelet capped-sleeve blouses to chunky wrap-around scarves, Zara has established itself as the Valhalla of affordable fashion not only for women but for men, children, and home too. The Spanish brand now has multiple stores in every key city around the world including six in Manhattan, with its three-floor flagship on Fifth right near Radio City. From need-it-now, grab-and-go pieces—a belt to replace one that broke, a top to wear to a last-minute party—to collection pieces that will linger long in your closet, there’s nothing you won’t find here, and all at a price-point that lets you rest easy, despite the inevitably big bags on your arms. (Fifth Ave. nr. 53rd St.)