Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
New York City has more stores than anyone could physically tackle, but somehow we always keep returning to the usual suspects. To break out of the rut, we've asked some local shopping and fashion gurus to provide their hidden retail gems—those unique stores around our fantastic city that we might not all know about. Cue the Beatles: We're about to get a little help from our friends.
Image via New York Magazine
As Head of Men's Creative and Editorial at Gilt Groupe, which includes our obsessively-checked bookmark >Gilt MANual, Tyler Thoreson has helped make words like "wingtip" and "chambray" a part of every guy's style vocabulary. Hey, we all need a little help at times. Even this fashion gent was once a novice employee in the Japanese corporate world. He hasn't been back since, but this midtown bookstore helps him feel like Shibuya isn't too far away.
Back in the '90s, I walked into a paralegal temp agency hoping for a few weeks of honest (or at least well-paid) work while I struggled to break into the glamorous and exclusive New York fact-checking scene (there was one, you can look it up). Four days later I found myself assigned to a massive case in Tokyo, where I spent my days affixing small Avery labels to the bottom right hand corners of inscrutable Japanese documents (for $20 an hour, plus OT!) and my nights roaming Shibuya, Roppongi, and Harajuku. Sort of like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation but with no money and no Scarlett.
I haven't been back since, but I do try to get to Kinokuniya Book Store every couple months. I love Muji for its cool, austere orderliness, but only Kinokuniya manages to capture the disorder, energy, and lovable otherworldliness of Tokyo. Every time I go I find something completely unnecessary that I really have to have, whether it's the molded plastic coin purses (one cartoony pink, the other cartoony blue) I recently bought for each of my kids, or the endless parade of men's fashion magazines (sample titles: Huge, Men's Fudge) you discover there. As NYC gets more and more samey, it's comforting to know that there's still somewhere you can go to be amazed (and slightly disoriented).
· Kinokuniya Book Store [Official Site]
· Gilt MANual [Official Site]
· All Kinokuniya Coverage [Racked NY]