New York is a strange town for menswear. It’s a bit of a Wild West, without the same traditions of Europe and with bespoke largely undermined by visitors from Savile Row. If there is a tradition, it is for value: low-priced sack suits that are constantly on offer.
So where does the crafted, sartorial menswear that we love fit in? Around the edges. In imports like the Armoury, online warehouses like No Man Walks Alone, and the odd diamond in the rough – such as Leffot.
The only way in which New York really has an advantage over London is that its conservative male shoppers have managed to keep traditional department stores alive and strong. In London, there is too much fashion (Selfridge’s) and too much bling (Harrod’s). Bergdorf Goodman and Paul Stuart have survived because there are enough well-enough Americans that value traditional menswear.
We have a lot to thank those men for. Not least the fact that most Savile Row tailors would have gone out of business years ago were it not for them.
- These are guides to quality. Only top shops with well-made products are included
- We only cover menswear, and largely sartorial menswear
- Perhaps most importantly, we only cover shopping experiences that are pretty much exclusive to this city. There are fewer and fewer of these, and they should be celebrated
10 Christopher St
Top only because it was first. I still remember clearly walking into Leffot the week it opened, and thinking what a breath of fresh air it was. Years later, it remains the best shoe shop in New York, and probably the whole of America.
2. The Armoury
168 Duane St
The New York branch (pictured) of the shop founded in Hong Kong. Responsible not just for bringing great brands like Ring Jacket, St Crispin’s and Carmina to New York, but also for a regular series of bespoke artisans.
3. Paul Stuart
354 Madison Ave
Paul Stuart has always been one of my favourite stores in the world. It is how all great menswear stores should be, chock full of well-made, classically styled clothing and accessories, with free alterations and knowledgeable staff. The sock selection alone is worth a visit. Style has improved with the launch of Phineas Cole, and since the lovely Ralph Auriemma took over the main Paul Stuart line.
4. Bergdorf Goodman
754 5th Ave
As mentioned above, Bergdorf’s has managed to remain a traditional (luxury) department store. There is a tie section, there is swimwear section. There are several effective shop-in-shops too, but it still feels like everything is arranged by category. The windows, unfortunately, are now more arranged by brand. They used to be simply inspirational in their classic styling.
5. No Man Walks Alone
336 W 37th St
No Man Walks Alone is an online retailer, rather than a store, but anyone can contact the guys and make an appointment to visit their warehouse on 37th street. Great for Italian tailoring brands like Formosa, and for MTO programmes with the likes of Vass and Rota.
6. Len Logsdail and others
9 E 53rd St
Bespoke tailors have a hard time in New York, because Savile Row has been coming here for such a long time and has a committed client base. Len Logsdail is one Englishman who stayed, and he cuts a very fine suit. Also worth of mention are Nino Corvato, Cheo Park, the establishment that is Martin Greenfield and the soft tailoring of Mark Rykken at Paul Stuart. Oh, and of course Alan Flusser – if you grew up with Dressing the Man, always worth a visit.
7. Miller’s Oath
510 Greenwich St
Listed here for its style more than anything else. I have no direct experience of the tailoring, but I’ve always liked Kirk’s view on contemporary male style, and he stocks some nice accessories too.
144 Orchard St
Mostly clothing sold under their own label, all made in Europe and North America. Some great knitwear, suits made by Samuelsohn and shoes from Alden and Vass. Also a good MTO program for trousers and shoes.
9. Ralph Lauren Rhinelander Mansion
867 Madison Avenue
In rather the same vein as I included Giorgio Armani in Milan, the Rhinelander Mansion has to be mentioned in New York. There are millions of Ralph Lauren shops, but none of them are quite like this one.
10. Carson Street Clothiers
63 Crosby St
A nicely curated selection of brands from Japan, Italy and the US. Tends more towards to casual clothing featuring unstructured blazers and wool trousers mixed in with high-end T-shirts and denim. Also has a MTM program for suits (as many New York outfits do – unfortunately often calling it bespoke).
[Carson Street Clothiers has closed since the writing of this article, in 2016]
11. Vincent & Edgar shoes
972 Lexington Ave
One of very few bespoke shoemakers in New York. The maker Ramon makes for Gay Talese among others.
12. Freeman’s Sporting Club
8 Rivington St
Most of the tailoring at Freeman’s Sporting Club is a little too narrow and short for my tastes, but I love the atmosphere of the shop and the styling. In much the same way as I always find it interesting looking at the tailoring at RRL. Worth a visit.
13. Worth & Worth hats
45 W 57th St
Designed by Orlando Palacios, this is probably the best hat shop in New York. A key strength is the blending of classic styles with some more modern colours and shapes. Most hat shops are either very traditional or very young and funky. Palacios’s designs manage to reach across the two.
As you would expect, New York has a great range of denim shops. The Levi’s store in the Meatpacking District is worth listing for its bespoke jeans, which I can highly recommend having had them in London. Self Edge and Blue in Green have a good range of Japanese brands – and a chain-stitch machine.
As with tailors and cordwainers, New York is lacking good bespoke shirtmakers, but if you want someone local then both Geneva and Cego custom shirts are worth a try.
The only other thing worth mentioning is that New York has a very strong range of Italian tailoring brands that – until recently – we didn’t really see in Europe. Brands like Isaia and Belvest – and at one point Kiton and Attolini – weren’t over here at all.
As ever, any other suggestions welcome.
With thanks to Bruce, Tom, Jake, Bram and Andy for their input