|The staircase to the Kiosk store.|
|Clothing store Opening Ceremony|
|Independent photography bookstore Dashwood Books.|
First, the huge clothing stores along Broadway will blow your mind. If you're keen for a particularly fluoro mindfuck I would recommend Uniqlo which has about three clothing styles (puffer jacket, puffer vest and jumper) all arranged in building blocks of tan inducing colour and yet, the brightness makes for a strangely cheerful experience. Along the street you will also find the stationery/lifestyle store, Muji, which is one of the best examples I've seen of a store making monotony and practicality seem like the coolest paring on the planet (akin to President Obama's brewery in the White House's basement). The rest of Broadway consists of every chain store I know pumped up on under the counter steroids - all with the aim to win over and over again the Tour de France of shopping. However, the best place for your mainstream needs is by far the huge discount designer store, Century 21. It was there where I brought designer bras for $6 each and a Calvin Klein wallet for $13. I could have stayed there forever but I had to runaway before the fervent shoppers fed on me to sustain their own ferocity levels.
Mass produced fashion stores can only maintain my interest for so long and very soon I deviated from the mainstream in search for the outliers. Bond St is an old cobblestone street off Broadway where we found a neat men's store called C'H'C'M. A bit further along (on the other side of the road) is Dashwood books. The owner had to buzz us in then for half an hour we walked through the small space browsing its countless photography books. I danced a little when I found Terry Richardson's autograph in his Rio de Janeiro book. Further down Broadway is the incredibly famous Strand bookstore which boasts 18 miles of new, second hand and rare books.
If you love clothing (and by love I mean seriously appreciate style even when you can't afford it) you simply must check out Opening Ceremony (off Broadway at 35 Howard St). Perhaps the closest example of Opening Ceremony in Wellington is Good As Gold but in reality, New Zealand has nothing like it. The main store is four stories of clothes (including labels such as Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler and Rodarte), accessories, magazines and art installations. Then next door is a two stories Opening Ceremony menswear store with brands like Acne, Band of Outsiders, Kenzo, Jeremy Scott and Opening Ceremony. Despite featuring many established designers, Opening Ceremony also chooses a 'visiting country' each year and showcases the selected country's most creative designers. 2012's chosen country was Korea but when we visited the shop the items I spied (which included Yoko Ono kimonos and a range of Comme des Garcons wallets) were all Japanese.
What I simultaneously loved and hated about Opening Ceremony was its staff. The beautiful, young and extraordinarily well dress shop assistants were everywhere, lounging delicately on the sofas, texting in the corners and giving the store's visitors a very cold up and down. Although the judgment makes sense (it's their job to be cool and it was obvious we weren't buying anything), it did create a slightly bizarre experience of constantly avoiding eye contact.
Even though I could write on and on about stores we went to, I want to avoid rambling too much more.. BUT I do have one last must visit and that's Kiosk (on the 2nd floor at 95 Spring St). Kiosk is a magic store where the objects it sells take on an art object role. The owners of Kiosk travel the world and the displayed objects are all found during these travels. In the store, each product is carefully arranged in a specifically chosen place on a shelf or wall and alongside it is a fun, well written description of the object's background. It is like walking through a 3D version of your favourite, slightly alternative, craft object magazine. When Zane and I visited we saw a mixture of objects from India and some from their previous collections.
Kiosk likes to describe its products as the result of "local aesthetics and needs" which generally go unnoticed with an overall aim of giving substance and background to the anonymous. Kiosk was one of my favourite experiences if simply because each object did have a written story which meant you could literally be an adventurer, travelling around the previously unexplored.