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.
Walk into any cool New York City boutique and you're bound to find at least one of these things: a silky Lauren Moffatt blouse, a Mansur Gavriel bucket bag (or, more likely, a Mansur Gavriel bucket bag wait list), an Ace & Jig babydoll dress in deconstructed plaid, or a pair of buckled Loeffler Randall booties. And with good reason—all of these labels have established themselves as indie retail go-to's for their wearability, attainable price points (at least once end-of-season sales roll around), and definitely-not-from-Zara attention to detail.
But on our weekly shopping trips for Racked's What's In Store feature, we've noticed a new crop of brands making their mark on the city's boutique scene. From Taylor-Swift-approved Hungarian womenswear line Nanushka to raw-crystal-and-clay cocktail rings by California jeweler Adina Mills, get to know the labels that are poised for NYC domination in 2015.
The Story: This Canadian handbag line does two things exceptionally well: bucket bags (theirs are ultra-minimalist and less than half the price of a certain other bucket bag) and cowhide that doesn't look it was plucked from the stands of a rodeo. Each bag is handmade by co-designers Mariel Gonzalez and Alexa Schoorl, who finish off the pieces with details like brass rivets, oversize leather tassels, and bungee-cord drawstrings. Bonus: a number of Eleven Thirty designs convert from handbags to backpacks with some strategic strap-looping.
The Price Points: Medium bags fall in the $150 to $200 range, pouches go for $50, and larger styles run from $300 to $450.
The Pick: "Christie" bucket bag, $200.
The Retailers: Life:Curated, No. 6, The Rising States
The Story: Deer Dana—the tee and accessory line dreamed up by business partners Dana Veraldi and Kevin Tekinel—traffics in line drawings of icons, from fashion bigshots (Grace Coddington, Raf Simons) to art world stars (Basquiat, Picasso), with some Larry David and Howard Stern tributes thrown in for good measure. This season, the duo is experimenting with home goods, like their Rick Ross ashtray, which you can pick up at Concrete + Water.
The Price Points: Most adult tees are $60, while kids' versions are $45.
The Pick: Dolly Parton tee, $60.
The Retailers: Sincerely Tommy, Concrete + Water, Opening Ceremony
The Story: Designing an embellished cocktail dress that's actually cool is a challenge, but one that New York-based label Saunder has risen to. The three-year-old line by Marc Jacobs alum Emily Saunders knocked it out of the park this holiday season with fringed flapper-wear, cheetah jacquard shifts, and evening jackets covered in beaded cigarettes emitting sequin smoke plumes. If Emily's Instagram is any indication, expect to see pill-print tops and voluminous off-the-shoulder dresses done up in iridescent fabrics for spring 2015.
The Price Points: Heavily embellished styles hover around $600, while simpler separates are between $300 and $400. That fact that everything is produced in the Garment District drives the cost up a bit.
The Pick: "Bee's Knees" fringe dress, $357.
The Retailers: American Two Shot, Swords-Smith
The Story: Consider Adina Mills' raw crystal pendants and hand-painted clay cocktail rings—which have been popping up in nearly every NYC boutique with a boho bent—the antidote to the dainty stacking jewelry boom. The designer lives out of a 1977 motor home with her partner Miles (who weaves her necklaces' hemp chains), criss-crossing the country in search of the rocks she turns into wearable art.
The Price Points: Prices vary depending on the size of the piece and the stones involved, but expect to pay $75 to $160 for rings and $90 to $260 for necklaces.
The Pick: Cobalt stone hemp necklace, $185.
The Retailers: Bird, People of 2Morrow, Worship, Beautiful Dreamers
The Story: Nanushka has already gotten the Bird stamp of approval, but the Budapest-based label is still under-the-radar enough that your chances of bumping into your outfit twin while wearing it are slim. Designer Sandra Sandor makes clothes "for the urban nomad, for those who are on the move but always at home," which translates to easy shifts and shirtdresses in unexpected fabrics, A-line skirts, and tailored wool outerwear.
The Price Points: Prices are on par with spendy chains like Club Monaco. A long-sleeved jacquard shift will run you $237, while a mohair sweater is $378.
The Pick: "Marvel" tweed coat, $448.70.
The Retailers: In Support Of, Concrete + Water, Sincerely Tommy, Bird
Chen & Kai
The Story: Chen Chen and Kai Williams met while studying industrial design at Pratt in the mid-aughts, and have been collaborating professionally since 2011. Their label, Chen & Kai—which spans everything from jewelry and custom furniture to marble mouse pads—has been making a splash on the NYC home goods scene, with recent pick-ups by arty spots like Grey Area and Coming Soon. Their signatures: cement planters cast from produce and resin-dipped "ham hock" coasters (as seen above), which are, essentially, tiny sculptures to rest your drinks on.
The Price Points: Small planters are around $25, and the duo's signature coaster sets start at $228.
The Pick: Avocado planter, $24.
The Retailers: Coming Soon, Mociun, The Future Perfect, Grey Area
The Story: Black Crane's designs may not be the first ones that catch your eye when you walk into a boutique, but the minimalist pieces are serious wardrobe workhorses. That's because the label's L.A.-based designer Momo Suzuki is all about effortless dressing. Her mainly black, white, and navy separates stand out in a sea of basics, thanks to their off-duty-architect cuts and special details like subtle quilting, raw hems, and surprise scoop backs.
The Price Points: Most dresses and pants are in the $100 to $150 range, tops start around $75, and outerwear goes for $200 to $250, generally.
The Pick: Quilted coat in cream, $178.50.
The Retailers: Personnel, No. 6, Beautiful Dreamers
The Story: Inject ultra-traditional footwear (oxfords, kiltie loafers, Chelsea boots) with raver details (platforms, resin heels, holographic leather) and you get Miista—the Tumblr-fodder British shoe label founded by London College of Fashion grad Laura Villsenin. Started in 2010, the line has been steadily picking up steam in NYC boutiques with a similarly irreverent vibe.
The Price Points: Most shoes fall between $200 and $250, though some boots pass the $350 mark.
The Pick: "Zoe" oxford, $215.
The Retailers: International Playground, Anthom, American Two Shot, Shoe Market
The Story: USC School of Architecture professor Laurel Consuelo Broughton started dabbling in handbag design back in 2009, and before long she had turned her leather-working hobby into a seriously successful side hustle—Welcome Companions. The label is known for its unconventional shapes—leaves, mice, strawberries, toast—as well as its retro handbag styles, done up in cut-out leather. "While they're traditional accessories, all of the pieces are not shaped like any known traditional accessories," the designer told Racked. "There's a surrealist element to it."
The Price Points: Bag charms start at $40, and purses range from $180 for a simple clutch to upwards of $600 for more elaborate styles.
The Pick: "Square One" bag, $440
The Retailers: Creatures of Comfort, The Deep End Club, American Two Shot
The Story: It may seem like we're jumping the gun on this one—Etienne Deroeux's creations are only sold in one New York City shop—but we have a feeling this guy is set to take off in the next few seasons. The French designer is all over the athleisure movement: his fall 2014 collection featured marbled cocoon coats and leather skater skirts paired with sneakers, and this spring he's offering up luxe bomber jackets and sexy takes on the mechanic's jumpsuit.
The Price Points: Most pieces are in the $500 range, with outerwear inching towards $900 and simple tops starting around $200.
The Pick: Blue cut-out pencil skirt, $339
The Retailer: The Rising States