Until the 1990s, the neighborhood now known as Nolita was simply part of Little Italy. During that time Elizabeth Street was lined with tenements populated by Italian immigrants. Today those same buildings, particularly in the block between Prince and East Houston Street, house some of the chicest shops not only of Nolita but of New York as a whole. Below, highlights of that particular block.
226 Elizabeth Street
Unis. Image: Robert Sheie/Flickr
Unis proves that there’s nothing basic about fine menswear basics. Founded by designer Eunice Lee in 2000, the brand works with small and midsize manufacturers that place a priority on quality and responsible production. GQ and other arbiters have waxed lyrical about the exceptional fit and comfort of Unis’s Gio pants and Jake T-shirts in particular. The shop, which is as understated as its wares, sells accessories from a smattering of other brands, including Anderson’s belts and Shuron sunglasses.
230 Elizabeth Street
Steven Alan Grossman opened his first store in 1994, selling trendy brands such as Daryl K and Milk Fed, five years before he launched his own line of ready-to-wear. Today his eponymous brand of beautifully cut men’s and women’s apparel, which manages to be both timeless and on-trend, makes up the lion’s share of the store’s offering.
233 Elizabeth Street
Despite its name, French for “the laboratory,” Le Labo was founded and remains based here in New York. A customer will choose a scent—15 wearable fragrances and 10 scents for the home—and an employee will make it up fresh, using vegan ingredients that are not tested on animals. In addition to perfumes and diffusers, the scents are available as candles, body lotions, detergents, and even light bulbs.
236 Elizabeth Street
Schott NYC. Image: A Continuous Lean/Flickr
Founded in 1913 on the Lower East Side by a pair of Russian immigrant brothers, Schott NYC originated as a maker of raincoats. It was not until 1928 that it began selling the leather motorcycle jackets it became famous for. By the 1950s its jackets had become iconic, thanks in no small part to being worn by Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones. James Dean, Peter Fonda in Easy Rider, and Bruce Springsteen on the cover of Born to Run solidified the brand’s hip quotient. In addition to leather jackets for men and women, the shop sells jeans, footwear, shirts, and sweaters, all equally rugged and quintessentially cool.
239 Elizabeth Street
While working as a television producer in France, Clare Vivier was unable to find a laptop bag that was both functional and chic, so she designed her own. From there came a line of buttery-soft leather bags, clutches, wallets, and pouches, as well as bags and accessories made of canvas, shearling, and other materials. The Clare V. line now includes a limited assortment of T-shirts, sweatshirts, footwear, and home accessories as well, all with the same unquestionably sophisticated aesthetic.
243 Elizabeth Street
In addition to the eponymous limited-edition range of clothing for women and children, all of which is made in Manhattan, Thomas Sires sells clothing, decor, jewelry, and gifts from a carefully curated assortment of designers and brands from around the world. The brainchild of designers Fiona Thomas and Allison Sires, the brand and the shop favor simplicity leavened with whimsy: pinstriped button-down shirts made of handwoven cotton sheer enough to be sexy despite their no-nonsense silhouette; cloth rattles from Danish brand Maileg resembling smiling vegetables; canvas baskets by Pehr Designs adorned with hand-sewn pom-poms.
245 Elizabeth Street
For every product sold, United by Blue pledges to remove a pound of trash from oceans and waterways via company-organized cleanups. If that does not persuade you to shop here, the company’s casualwear, bags, home goods, and camping gear surely will. Its products, made with sustainable materials such as organic cotton and recycled polyester, have a subtle outdoorsy vibe but nonetheless look right at home on the street of Manhattan or in a downtown loft.
248 Elizabeth Street
Founded in Paris in 1643, Cire Trudon is the world’s oldest candlemaker still in business. It supplied both the royal court and Napoleon’s imperial court, yet it did not launched its first shop until 2007. Opened just last year, the Elizabeth Street store is its only stateside shop. With its mirrored and red-lacquered walls, the store’s interior is as opulent as the fragrances themselves, which are available not only as candles but also as room sprays. In addition to scented candles in handcrafted glass vessels, it offers unscented tapers, pillar candles adorned with cameos, and candles in the shapes of historic figures including Napoleon and Benjamin Franklin.
260 Elizabeth Street
Babel Fair is dedicated to bringing lesser-known women’s apparel brands from around the world to discriminating New Yorkers. That means a frequently changing inventory of designs and designers to discover, such as the fancifully feminine dresses of London-based Oh My Love, the playfully bold separates of Los Angeles’s Lucca, the carefree and youthful Australian brand Reverse, and the vintage-inspired styles of France’s See U Soon.
269 Elizabeth Street
Selling both vintage and contemporary artisanal jewelry (including pieces by shop founder Lori Leven), Love Adorned appeals to anyone who believes “something old, something new” applies not just to brides but to everyone—though the shop does sell some striking engagement and wedding rings. Items run the gamut from tasseled bracelets strung with semiprecious beads to intentionally mismatched diamond-and-gold-nugget earrings to necklaces resembling gold trapezes. Love Adorned sells jewelry for the home as well, in the form of decorative crushed soda cans studded with rhinestones, ceramic vases, hand-carved cutting boards, and the like.