5 Glorious Boutiques That Warrant a Shopping Pilgrimage
Oh, hey! You have a trip coming up? Maybe vacay? Maybe family time? There's a 97 percent chance* that you'll be hitting up a few shopping destinations while you're away. But what about the stores across the country that make a city a destination on their own? Below, check out five shops in far-flung places that are worth a special trip, plus a bonus incoming concept boutique at the end.
Raleigh Denim Workshop
319 West Martin Street, Raleigh, NC
Congratulations! You care about how your clothes are made! You shop Everlane. You read about the feel-good factories where your sweaters are knit. But what if you could actually see where your clothes are produced? Touch the machines? Introduce yourself to the octogenarian pattern-maker? That's the experience you can enjoy at Raleigh Denim Workshop.
Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko started Raleigh Denim on a mission to make the ideal pair of jeans. They sewed every pair of their first Barney's order in their home. Victor hunted for, purchased, and restored all of the old textile machines in the factory. The jeansmiths who make each pair hand-sign the inside pocket. And that pattern-maker? She really is in her 80s, and she's a gem. Raleigh Denim doesn't offer daily tours, per se, but they'll accommodate you if you email in advance and ask nicely.
Granted, Raleigh jeans are available in San Francisco. Years ago, you could only find them at Barney's and Unionmade; these days they're stocked in most of the better denim-selling boutiques: Reliquary, Seedstore, AB Fits, Seldom Seen... you get the idea. But visiting the brand's Raleigh workshop to see the process is kind of like visiting a farm to see where your food is grown. It makes your purchase more meaningful. And when you want to take home a pair of jeans after your adventure, there's a store attached to the factory with the most extensive selection of Raleigh jeans available.
The Mysterious Rack
558 South 4th Street, Louisville, KY
Some fashion pilgrimages are about catching up with old friends, like Olivia Griffin at The Mysterious Rack. Griffin owned Paul's Hat Works in the Richmond for years before the Derby lured her to make the move to Louisville. Now she produces her line, Griffin Hatters, and sells hats and limited runs of apparel through her Kentucky boutique.
While the Derby may have been the initial draw to the area, Griffin's repertoire extends well beyond grand, over-sized derby hats. Griffin and her partner were married in 2012 wearing bowler hats that Olivia designed, and most of the permanent collection from her Griffin Hatters line is dedicated to traditional shapes like the cloche, porkpie, and fedora. The line is bright, beautifully-constructed, and rings in at $168-$414.
Depending on how you time your visit, you can even check out Griffin's incoming tiki bar, The Limbo.
2608 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN
If you love Kate Spade, you're probably crushing hard on Reese Witherspoon's line, Draper James. Consider it the Southern counterpart to Spade's quirky-femme New Yorker. While Witherspoon's collection launched in 2015 as a direct-to-consumer line, it was quickly picked up by distributors like Nordstrom and Net-a-Porter. Reese has four Draper James stores across the South now, including Dallas, Lexington, and (soon) Atlanta, but the OG shop is in her hometown, Nashville.
The Draper James mothership is located in Music City's 12 South neighborhood, near a smattering of adorable boutiques like White's Mercantile and denim haven Imogene + Willie. Inside, you'll find the complete Draper James line of clothing, accessories, and home goods, which you can explore while enjoying lemonade or sweet tea. (Because what kind of Southerner would Reese Witherspoon be if her staff didn't offer you a beverage upon arrival?) Outside, the blue and white striped wall is designed with Instagramming in mind, so plan your outfit accordingly.
15 East Huron, Chicago, IL
The New York Times has called it "impossibly chic." Paper magazine's Mickey Boardman says it's the most amazing store in America and one of the top ten in the world. If you hadn't heard of Ikram Goldman before 2008, you certainly learned her name after Michelle Obama showed up for her first inaugural ball in an ethereal white, single-shoulder Jason Wu gown. It was the dress than launched a thousand Pinterest boards, (as well as Wu's career), and Goldman is the woman who made it happen.
Goldman is an international sensation in retail, and her store, Ikram, is a must-see in Chicago—a collection of the best in women's clothing, shoes, jewelry, bags and accessories from around the world. If you have the funds for a shopping spree, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better stylist. Ikram has reputation for refusing to sell garments that are ill-suited for her clients, so you know that when you walk out with an Ikram purchase, you're getting a memorable look.
1111 Lincoln Road, LEVEL 5, Miami, FL
You don't realize that you want to shop at a boutique located in the middle of a parking desk until you visit Alchemist. Founded in 2007, Alchemist is a retail concept that merges fashion, design, art and architecture. Located on the 5th level of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage, the store is in a glass box that's the central feature of the carpark. Through the years, the space has hosted plenty of special collaborations and projects and continues to be an iconic landscape for the Alchemist brand. Stop here for all the Rick Owens, as well as Simone Rocha, Vetements, Céline, Margiela, and Fear of God.
Coming to Los Angeles, CA
I've been obsessed with United Nude's architectural shoes for years—I've even visited the original Amsterdam location—so I was thrilled to hear the brand is opening its first-ever West Coast store in Los Angeles in 2018. This, of course, comes after the Dutch brand closed its original U.S. store in Noho and its London boutique.
Some stores cram shoes on a shelf and expect you to swoon. At United Nude, shoes are displayed like art. It seems fitting since more than a few United Nude designs are featured in actual art exhibits.
United Nude founder and creative director Rem D. Koolhaas told Fashion Network the new concept store "will be quite different from our flagship stores around the world in the sense that it is not merely a display of United Nude’s products." Koolhaus explains that the shop, which will be part of the brand's new global headquarters in Silver Lake, will also be a gallery event space where the brand will collaborate with local and international artists, musicians and designers.
When it opens, the Silver Lake store will be the only UN location in the US, so it's definitely worth a special trip.
*Not based on math or science