Part 1 of the If-Only guide to NYC…
Just before the beginning of the festive period last year, I was fortunate enough to embark on a trip across the Atlantic to visit our American friends in New York. It was only shortly before leaving on this trip, I decided with the impending launch of If-Only, it would be a good idea to create an ‘If-Only Guide to NYC’. Ranging from quintessential tourist destinations, to some of New York’s most coveted streetwear stores. I’ve tried to encompass in the guide the essence of the true New York, whilst providing a brief background and review of stores around Manhattan that stock some of the most sought after urban brands. Unfortunately, due to time restrictions, I was not able to venture from Manhattan, but I assure you that there is enough solely to keep you preoccupied.
Vans X DQM:
On the same street as The Hundreds store stands the collaborative Vans X DQM store, and although it is easier to spot than the former, like most of these shops, it’s still easy to miss. The store is nicely furnished with a bit of a rustic vibe going on and on the whole the staff were pretty friendly and helpful (although when enquiring about whether a DQM 5-panel I wanted was still in stock, they weren’t too sure… which raises questions as to whether they really know what stock they have). It actually transpired that they were running low of stock as the DQM threads they had were coming to the end of their season’s line and the store wasn’t expecting another drop, but regardless of this, the stock was actually pretty strong. There was a good selection of vans shoes dotted around the shop (plenty of varying styles of Eras and Zapatos) , a few tidy DQM tees and some pretty nice beanies in neutral colours, as well as a good selection of Vans and DQM shirts and outerwear (although the outerwear was particularly dear, as you’d expect).
Staff (helpfulness/friendliness): 7
The Flight Club:
Definitely the most impressive of all the stores I visited, the Flight Club is famous for its extensive selection of foot and headwear. Both walls on your left and right as you walk in are covered with hats and sneakers, stretching from one end of the store to the other. Unlike most of my other destinations, the Flight Club is a store that isn’t solely synonymous with the skate and other more alternative urban scenes. Popular for people from all walks of life, ranging from skaters, to your hip hop heads, the athletic type and the average-Joe that just wants a fresh pair of sneakers. My favourite part of this shop is the way that they have their headwear organised with an x axis labelled with numbers from 1 upwards and the y axis with letters from A to M, which creates a really effective time saving system where you just tell them the cap that you want (eg. A-1 or G-11). The staff were very busy, but when I had the chance to grab the attention of one, she was extremely helpful and dealt with my enquiry relatively quickly, however, do be aware that if you’re working on a budget and are looking for a particular pair of shoes, you may be priced out at the Flight Club (to put it into perspective, we were told, when asking a member of staff at another store about where we could find a particular pair of Jordans, that the Flight Club would ‘rape us’ on the price).
Staff (helpfulness/friendliness): 8
Value: 6 (footwear was extortionate, while headwear was reasonably priced)
To be honest, those that have already visited the London store would not be too surprised with what they would see upon entering its New York counterpart. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take any photographs of any of the clothing on show, but there was not too much to be missed anyway. Like the London store, there is a lot of unused space with only one shelf for t-shirts, one for jackets and shirts and one for hoods and sweats their selection of headwear was limited to just four different items (although I did discover later that they rotate the stock of the headwear to maintain the hype). Their current line of headwear was pretty strong (I couldn’t help myself and grabbed a couple of 5-panels), but besides from some box logo tees and hoodies, there was really not too much to choose from. Overall, for a brand that generates so much hype worldwide, you would really hope that they would endeavour to provide a great retail space as well as a strong stock, sadly though, this is not the case.
Staff (helpfulness/friendliness): 4
Value: 7 (the one major upside is that the stock price is often the dollar equivalent of what it would cost in pounds in the UK eg. One cap that costs 30 pounds, will probably go for 30 dollars)
The painted advertisement was once a common sight throughout Manhattan, but in recent times they have made way for the more practical, but often garish poster and electronic billboards. In my opinion, it is a great shame that a discipline that brings such individuality and character to the city of New York is so readily and easily forgotten. In spite of this, here are still a handful of skilled professionals that can take pride in their efforts to keep these understated spectacles alive throughout the city. Here are a couple of painted ads I found in Midtown and on the Lower East Side, plus an interesting article (which features ‘Up and Down’, an equally interesting short documentary) about the dying art of painted advertising in New York.
Eating pt. 1:
As you can imagine, New York is quite good for food. One type of restaurant in particular that everyone tells you to visit is the classic New York deli, of which there are two particularly famous ones; Carnegies’ (located in Midtown) and Katz’ (located in the Lower East Side). The sort of things they have on their menu range from salt beef sandwiches, to French toast and pancakes and is suitable for either breakfast or lunch (admittedly, I had French toast with bacon and maple syrup both times), although you may want to wait a bit to digest before you resume your sightseeing. Arguably, both capture part of the real essence of New York; with their giant pots of coffee, comically sized salt beef sandwiches (see photo), photos of famous patrons all over the walls and their passion for maple syrup and bacon, however if forced to choose, I’d recommend Katz’ deli (the French toast is banging).