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Cool + Eclectic: The Best Vintage Stores in Lower Manhattan

I have a confession to make: Covid really fucked me up. Okay, maybe that’s not much of a confession because I know a lot of people feel that way. But this past spring, being fully vaccinated and boosted and living in New York City, I realized that I still wasn’t going out. Sure, I would take my dog for a walk in the park or go somewhere for a photoshoot or work. But I wasn’t just wandering around the city like I did pre-Covid. Somehow, I got out of the habit of leaving my much beloved and decidedly unhip corner of Brooklyn. In an effort to change this I thought about things I used to love to do and discovering new vintage finds came to mind.

There was a time when the cool kids didn’t go above 14th Street in Manhattan and Brooklyn was a foreign land. Soho was full of actual artists and the East Village reeked of patchouli and clove cigarettes. While that is officially long long ago in a galaxy far far away, there are still places below 14th street that retain that unique personality. So when I decided to do my own “tour” of NYC vintage clothing stores I narrowed it down to Manhattan below 14th Street.

After a bit of research, I made a list of 12 vintage store to (re)visit. And then cajoled our editor Steph to come along. Because it’s always more fun with a friend! From these 12 I have selected five to share with you, dear No Kill Mag readers.

Why only five? Because for me these 5 are really unique and special. I don’t think you’ll find one similar in Palm Beach, Pittsburgh or Peoria. Or wherever you’re from –if it’s not the isle of Manhattan. And the whole reason we live in NYC instead of…Kingston is to have these IRL one-of-a-kind experiences. And because you are wise enough to read No Kill Mag you now know of them as well!

To show no favoritism they are listed in alphabetical order

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9 Spring Street
Tues – Sunday 1 – 7 pm
CLOSED Mondays

This one’s the new kid on the block. And to be honest a PR friend hounded me forever to check them out but…Covid. So, no thanks! However, when I was putting together my “tour” it seemed only fair to include them.  And oh hi Taryn! You were right –this store is so worth checking out! In Nolita, just down the block from the New Museum (sidenote: their café is a great place to take meetings) Aberizk is a little shop that is a tightly edited mix of new designers and vintage.

Why I love Aberizk
Many vintage stores try to be all things to all people. Aberizk seems firmly entrenched in the early 2000s (I know, to say that’s “vintage” is a stretch and a little painful but stay with me!) If you love the mesh madness that is a certain era of Jean Paul Gaultier then This.Is.Your.Holy.Grail.

Other designers include Issey Miyake, Roberto Cavalli, Dior, Fendi and Versace. So while they’re new –here’s hoping they survive any rent increases and stick around for awhile!

dear rivington interior store
Dear Rivington Japanese ceramicist
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DEAR: Rivington+

37 Great Jones Street
Mon – Sat 11 – 7 pm
Sun 12 – 6 pm

I remember going into this store for the first time when it was actually on Rivington. The LES was not the hipster haven it has since become and I was beyond enchanted. Fortunately, that sense of magic has stayed with them despite their move north to Great Jones Street. If Aberizk is for those who love Gaultier and never say no to bodycon dressing, DEAR: Rivington+ is for those who appreciate Japanese Minimalist Cool and wear any color. As long as it’s black.

Why I love DEAR:Rivington+
Owned by Moon Rhee and Heyja Do, the store is a true reflection of the owners. A great place to find vintage Comme des Garcons and Rei Kawakubo they also have their own line of clothes with a deceptively simple aesthetic. In addition there are gorgeous vases and other pottery pieces in the store are by HeyJa who is a former fashion designer turned self-taught ceramicist.

Go for the fashion. Stay for the beauty and tranquility. Or vice versa.

edith machinist vintage store external
edith machinist vintage store interior
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Edith Machinist

104 Rivington St
Mon and Wed CLOSED
Tue, Thur-Sat 1pm-6pm
Sun 1:30pm-6pm 

Edith Machinist is what you imagine when you think of what a great vintage store should be. Quirky yet understated it’s like going into the attic of your favorite great aunt. (if your favorite great aunt has amazing taste and pieces that date back a century or more!)

One always hears that adding a vintage piece to your wardrobe is a way to add a certain je ne sais quoi but oftentimes finding that perfect item feels impossible. Well my friends, this is where you come to –not only look– but to find. I suspect that covetable Cool Brooklyn Girl style is actually made from shopping trips to Edith Machinist on the lower east side.

Why I love Edith Machinist
What I love best in this store are the handbags. There are those who are only interested in designer labels when they think of vintage handbags and then there are others who really appreciate the craftsmanship and unique styles from earlier eras. Edith Machinist is happily for the latter. While you can find a Gucci or Pierre Cardin here, what I love are the delicate bags from the 1940s and earlier. I will definitely be adding one (or 2 or 3) to my fall wardrobe.

James Veloria store in chinatown with James + Brandon in a heart
James Veloria inside with women in fabulous vintage
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James Veloria

75 E Broadway #225
12-7 pm All Days

Owned by Collin James and Brandon Veloria this colorful and campy store hidden away in a Chinatown mall seems custom made for club kids and anyone else who loves to go full out in self-expression. Entering the store is a dopamine hit in and of itself but don’t take the décor to mean the clothes are tacky. There’s a reason why this shop is a destination for “it girls” from all over the globe.

Why I love James Veloria
There are amazing fashion-with-a-capital-F finds. When I visited I discovered a trove of Chloe denim from the Stella McCartney period with details like sparkly horses on the back pockets and a fabulous Miu Miu top that I’m still sad I didn’t buy. Brandon shared that they started James Veloria because they wanted to “create a safe fun space for everyone to have access to fabulous designer clothing.” I’d say mission accomplished!

iconic vintage store screaming mimis exterior shots
screaming mimis racks of vintage, wigs and a runway model
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Screaming Mimis

240 West 14th Street
Mon – Sat 12-8
Sunday 1-7

Last but certainly not least is Screaming Mimis. This is the place to go if you believe more is more. Perhaps the largest on my list, it’s known as a go-to destination for stylists and costume designers and I always find something here that excites me. If you’ve seen your favorite star in vintage there’s a good chance it came from Screaming Mimis. Originally on Lafayette street they’ve moved to the far west side. While I admit I absolutely hate how the formerly edgy meatpacking district has traded Florent for the Apple store, this is one reason to go west.

Why I love Screaming Mimis
If James Veloria and Aberizk are the new guard, Screaming Mimi’s is the old guard still showing them how it’s done. They not only have amazing vintage finds, on their instagram they’ll show the pieces in the original fashion editorials. So. Fun. So. Authentic. With NYFW nipping at our heels, if you’re looking for something to stop the street style photographers in their tracks this is the place to go.

–Katya Moorman

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