The Insider’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Williamsburg

luxury shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Williamsburg, Brooklyn is one of the coolest places in all of New York City. If you’re planning a visit and want to know where to shop, you’re in luck! Our ace correspondent Julie Chang Murphy is an expert on the neighborhood and an experienced fashion executive.  Here’s her insider’s guide to the best luxury retail shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Luxury retail Shopping is still alive in New York (but just barely)

Shopping in New York is not what is used to be, dear reader. Too many treasured boutiques have either become banks, mass market retail chains, or pharmacies. Ugh! And even worse, rows of dusty storefronts sit empty for months, making us crazy with longing for the vibrant blocks we once loved.

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We all know the virtues of shopping small and local and supporting neighborhood artisans and brands. But the economics of real estate in Manhattan make that prospect increasingly difficult.

Thankfully, there’s Brooklyn.

The best luxury shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Courtesy Photo.

Now, the borough of Brooklyn obviously covers a lot of ground. Unless you have all day and are powered by an endless drip of caffeine, no one really shops their way through the entire borough, from Williamsburg over to Dumbo, crisscrossing to Cobble Hill and Park Slope.

But if you’ve got a solid afternoonand we do mean afternoon, because hardly any of these shops open before 12 noon then take yourself to Grand Street in Williamsburg for some of the best boutique shopping in New York. You’ll find women’s and men’s clothing, housewares and vintage finds galore.

The Insiders Guide to the Best Shopping in Williamsburg

We put on our best walking shoes and went “into the field” to find the most creative and special indie boutiques that make Williamsburg, Brooklyn a worthwhile shopping destination.

Here is our guide to one of the best shopping blocks in all of New York City: Grand Street in Williamsburg.

How to get there

First things first: what’s the best way to get to Grand Street? The most popular route is to take the L train to Bedford Avenue, the central hub of Williamsburg. There will be plenty of boutiques that will compete for your attention the minute you come above ground. But keep your eyes on the prize. Otherwise, you’ll never make it south to Grand Street with your shopping fund still intact.

guide to williamsburg brooklyn

Our inside guide to luxury shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Step one: take the East River Ferry. Courtesy Photo.

If you’re really looking to make an experience out of the afternoon, though, we highly recommend the East River Ferry. You can board at 34th Street in Manhattan, and enjoy a scenic boat ride with wonderful city views all along the way. There are even gourmet refreshment offerings on board. Get off at the North Williamsburg stop at North 5th Street. Then it’s just a 5-minute walk down Kent Avenue to Grand Street.

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Women’s Clothing

There are four standout boutiques that are all practically next door to one another that are at the top our list for fashion.

1. Bird

If you’ve ever wondered how Brooklyn creatives all look so effortlessly cool and stylish, start with Bird. This celebrated destination is a minimalist and atrium-like space that showcases an impeccable edit of emerging and established designers like Dries Van Noten, Isabel Marant, Rachel Antonoff and Caron Callahan.

They also carry the well-known Brooklynite accessories. Like a wall of No.6 clogs and booties.  Inconspicuous and refined handbags from Mansur Gavriel and fanny packs from Rachel Comey. I couldn’t resist buying this frothy Ulla Johnson dress ($325) and trying on some androgynous-chic Apiece Apart jumpsuits ($445).

Best luxury shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The best luxury shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Bird. Courtesy Photo.

2. Anne Willi

Just down the street from Bird, Anne Willi is a French boutique that carries simple and elegant wardrobe staples. The tailoring is top-notch and her pants and dress shirts are easy to wear. But it’s the subtle details that she incorporates that make each piece unique and elevated. Prices for sweaters, dresses and pants are in the $200-$300 range. Think sexy librarian, design exec or serious poet.

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3. 7115 by Szeki

7115 by Szeki is a New York-based brand from designer Szeki Chan that also specializes in grown-up woman style. If you’re looking for the antidote to skinny jeans, this is the spot. We loved her wide-legged trousers ($186) in luxuriously soft wool and pleated, tapered trousers ($182) in silk, linen and wool options.

guide to Williamsburg

Our insider’s guide to luxury shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: 7115 by Szeki. Courtesy Photo.

4. la di da dee

For something more youthful and trendy, la di da dee is an approachable boutique that feels like shopping your stylish friend’s closet. There are some striking novelty sweaters, flattering printed dresses and a small but perfectly curated gifting, jewelry and home section.

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Men’s Clothing

1. Bird

Men are not neglected here on Grand Street. The Williamsburg outpost of Bird is the brand’s largest – and the entire front section is devoted to design-forward menswear and men’s accessories. You’ll find brands like Comme des Garcons, Acne Studios, Want Les Essentials and Margaret Howell.

luxury shopping in Williamsburg Brooklyn

A great place of where to shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Kai D Utility. Courtesy Photo.

2. Kai D Utility

Across the street, Kai D Utility feels like a step back in time. The store is all about handsome, slow fashion created in small batches by artisans who work from historical references, use high quality fabrics and time-honored tailoring techniques.

Particular standouts include their work jackets ($476) and frontiersman inspired shirts ($225). As a former handbag designer, I couldn’t help admiring all the gorgeous and timeless leather satchels.

3. Fred Perry

If you’re the more casual, sporty and preppy type, definitely check out the British brand Fred Perry. Their iconic polos are a core element of the British sub-culture uniform and have been made in England for 60 years.

4. Paul Smith

Another British brand with a presence on Grand Street is the dapper and quirky clothier Paul Smith. Note that both of these stores sell the brands’ surplus apparel and accessories. So come prepared for some bargain hunting.

Vintage Shopping

The vintage shopping scene is thriving in this part of Williamsburg. Here are 5 great shops to visit.

About Glamour is a unique multi-retail space with an art gallery. It’s our go-to for the vast selection of vintage apparel from Japanese designers, as well as Japanese stationery goods.

There’s a little bit of everything at Antoinette, a small, charming boutique where every single piece of clothing is cleaned and steamed before hitting the floor. The result is a relevant and well-organized collection that makes vintage shopping a pleasure- especially if you’re not one who loves to dig through racks.

luxury shopping in Williamsburg

A great guide towards helping you shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Antoinette. Courtesy Photo.

On the other end of the spectrum is vintage shop Le Grand Strip. Peering into the windows and seeing the store’s bold, turn-of-the century boudoir-inspired space, you’ll know exactly what’s in store. Funky, glamorous and joyful are three words that come to mind. The French-born owner leans towards costume-inspired 1950’s-1980’s outfits and accessories. And 1920’s lingerie.

luxury shopping

Our insider’s guide to shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: vintage shop Le Grand Strip. Courtesy Photo.

Turn off Grand Street and onto Driggs Avenue and you’ll see The 1926 Shop and Narnia Vintage. It’s impossible not to fall in love with The 1926 Shop’s decadent space. It’s like stepping into your eccentric aristocratic aunt’s giant walk-in closet. The owner has a penchant for chinoiserie, embroidered kaftans, and other globally-inspired finds.

Narnia also leans towards an artsy, Bohemian aesthetic. Embellished clothing, awe-inspiring prints and a large collection of crystals can be found in this magical shop.

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Home Goods

For a delightful and gracious living space, there are three boutiques that hit a home run with their quietly lovely wares.

Leif is an inviting boutique selling an assortment of textiles, ceramics, and kitchen/table goods that are artful and original. We loved these Turkish towels ($42) and picked up a couple bubble glass tumblers ($20).

Sprout Home Brooklyn Kitchen & Table are two inspiring spaces in one, where you can shop for plants, flowers, gardening accessories and adorable home goods. And if you’re feeling crafty, you can even design your own personal terrarium.

A fluffy stuffed alpaca ($95) caught our eye at the Chango Shop and we knew we had to take a look. Inside, the shop did not disappoint us with its Scandinavian cool home accessories. We admired this quirky planter ($105) and dreamed of replacing all of our plates with these, in organically shaped stoneware ($48).

luxury stores

Our guide to the best luxury shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Leif. Courtesy Photo.

when you’re ready for a break . . .

Be sure to refuel in the middle of (or at the end of) all the shopping. Grab a delicious plate of arepas filled with guayanés cheese, fried sweet plantains and avocado at the trendy Caracas, and wash it down with a mojito or coconut milkshake.

Or, if you’re in need of a coffee, get yourself to Devocion a soaring industrial space with exposed brick walls and huge skylight, serving the freshest Colombian coffee, straight from the campo.

guide to Brooklyn

Our insider’s guide to shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Devocion. Courtesy Photo.

The Insiders Guide to the Best Shopping in Williamsburg

We had a grand old time shopping in Williamsburg. And best of all, there are no feelings of buyer’s remorse because shopping local counts as a good deed, right? Happy Shopping out there!

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Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, and fitness. Julie lives in New York where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing. And spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.

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