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The Biggest Store Openings of the Year

Clare Vivier on Elizabeth Street
Clare Vivier on Elizabeth Street

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2013 saw an impressive amount of store openings, ranging from ultra high-end fantasy shops like Saint Laurent and Balenciaga to independent co-ed boutiques like Swords-Smith and Personnel of New York. Arguably the year's biggest opening—Dover Street Market—happened just ten days ago.

Though Madison Avenue, Mercer Street, and Elizabeth Street all had gangbuster years, the year's most noteworthy debuts span more ground than just the Upper East Side, Soho, and Nolita. After the jump, our list of the 12 biggest store openings of the year, presented in no particular order.

Personnel of New York. Photo by William Chan

Personnel of New York, West Village
The closure of the last remaining Zachary's Smile in Manhattan gave way to something much better: Personnel of New York, a men's and women's boutique in the West Village run by Kristi Paras and Emilio Ramirez. The couple has filled their shop with merchandise from the East and West Coasts, so collections include everything from breezy Mara Hoffman separates to LA-based brands like Industry of All Nations.

Dover Street Market, Murray Hill
The first Dover Street Market in the United States encompasses seven floors in a Murray Hill building that's easy to miss from the outside. Inside, all of the labels under the Comme des Garçons umbrella are scattered among high-end brands like Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton, contemporary brands like Thom Browne and Supreme, and plenty of international, under-the-radar designers you've yet to meet. The store also includes a cafe, elaborate sculptures and displays, an all-glass elevator, and some of the best people-watching in the city.

Balenciaga, Soho
After a two-and-a-half-year delay, Balenciaga finally opened not one but two stores on Mercer Street. The women's flagship is the first retail unit that was designed by Alexander Wang, and reflects motifs in his first collection for the brand. The beautiful, two-level store is made up of 5,400 square feet of Verde Rameggiato marble, a stunning skylight, and houses the ready-to-wear collections, footwear, and accessories. Men's is all across the street.

Photo by Rebecca Dale

Veda, Soho
The Veda outpost (also on Mercer Street) isn't store owner Lyndsey Butler's first for the brand: in 2011 she left the Lower East Side, focused on e-commerce and wholesale, and this fall, returned to brick and mortar. The result: a clean, refined collection of the best leather jackets in the city.

Saint Laurent, Soho
When Saint Laurent's Soho flagship opened this summer, it was on Greene Street—not the original intended location on Mercer Street, which is now home to the men's Balenciaga store. The 4,000-square foot space was designed by Hedi Slimane, and decor includes specially curated vintage chairs from the '30s and '40s, marble shelves, glass cases that house small handbags and leather goods, and floor-to-ceiling video screens.

Carven, Soho
The first Carven store in the U.S. opened just a few weeks ago at 83 Mercer Street. It's a narrow, dreamy jewel-box, with ready-to-wear divvied up by style and housed in separate mirrored nooks. Accessories, shoes, and a whimsical selection of high-end dickies round out the offerings.

Kirna Zabete, Soho
Store owners Sarah Easley and Beth Buccini outgrew their original Soho store following a buzzy collaboration with Target, and reopened in a larger space on Broome Street this summer. The new space clocks in at 10,000 square feet, which is more than double the size of the first boutique.

Clare Vivier, Nolita
Elizabeth Street retail had a blockbuster year: Newcomers like Clare Vivier, Figue, and Alex Mill joined an already stellar lineup of shops like Love, Adorned, Thomas Sires, Condor, Dolce Vita, Steven Alan, and more. The Clare Vivier boutique is the designer's first on the East Coast, and is packed with her signature clutches, totes, and wallets, as well as other fashionable finds, like jewelry and magazines.

Photo by Rebecca Dale

Swords-Smith, Williamsburg
This South 4th Street boutique is huge, and there's no shortage of great finds for both sexes from a solid roster of independent brands. In addition to designers like Rachel Antonoff, Upstate, Lauren Moffatt, Degen, and Soulland, there's also an impressive in-house label worth checking out.

Sephora, Downtown Brooklyn
Believe it or not, Sephora didn't have a location in Brooklyn prior to this fall. The first store, located on 210 Joralemon Street, drew a crowd of well over 100 people on opening day—most likely due to the fact that they were handing out gift cards worth up to $1,000.

Alexander McQueen, Upper East Side
The trailblazing Meatpacking stalwart departed West 14th Street this year in favor of new digs uptown, signaling the end of an era for a neighborhood now largely filled with chain boutiques. As expected, the new Madison Avenue store is exceptionally gorgeous, and in good company: neighbors include the new Valentino townhouse, Hermès, and the soon-to-be Givenchy store.

Kate Spade, Upper East Side
Kate Spade's elaborate, cheeky Madison Avenue flagship debuted earlier this year, encompassing several floors filled with bows, bags, and more of the brand's signature calling cards. Whether or not it's your style, there's lots to see—from the vintage record covers on the walls to the quaint balcony overlooking the neighborhood.

An honorable mention goes to Moscot on the Lower East Side, who, after more than seventy years at 118 Orchard Street, packed up its belongings and moved to the other corner of Orchard.
· All Year in Racked 2013 Posts [Racked NY]