“I make dresses for people who don’t like to buy dresses, and it’s a shop for people who don’t like to shop,” Kathy Kemp said. Though she insists she was never a terrific seamstress, Kathy has enjoyed design since her childhood days crafting outfits for herself. As an adult, she turned her keen eye to refashioning vintage clothes.
Kathy opened ANNA — named for the grandmother who taught her to sew — shortly after moving to New York, where she laid roots in the East Village. Being in the neighborhood in the 1990s was a particularly special time, and she believes the area’s unique spirit remains today.
Kathy sources her fabrics from New York’s Garment District, translates them into her own style, and has the final products refined by local seamstresses. “I like comfortable clothing that’s a little bit different but not crazy.” After stitching up a sample, she will wear it for a few days, judging how the piece feels, how it looks in different lights, how it moves and how people react to it. It is a deeply personal and empathetic creative process.
Her intimate connection to her work and her customers forms the business’s strong community. “ANNA is the kind of store you only tell your best friend about. We have a very well-edited group of people who shop here: it’s special people and their special people.” Just stepping into her cozy, old-fashioned boutique will let visitors experience what Kathy calls “ANNA magic.”
Most business owners know how difficult it is to bounce back after being robbed. Makoto Wantanabe has done it twice and, ironically, has a thief to thank for the very birth of Tokio 7. Makoto was globetrotting in the early 1990s when he arrived in Southern California on what was supposed to be the penultimate stop on his tour. He befriended a homeless man and let him stay in his hotel room for the night, but Makoto awoke to find everything except for his passport was stolen. Stranded with no money and far from his home in the Japanese countryside, Makoto called one of his only contacts in the U. S., who worked at a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan. He scrounged up enough money for a bus ticket and was off. While in New York, Makoto felt that men’s clothing suffered from a lack of style. Having always had a knack for fashion, he knew he could change that but lacked the funds to open a store with brand new clothing. So, after several years of saving his wages as a waiter, he founded one of the first consignment shops in New York City. Tokio 7 now carries men’s and women’s clothes, with the overarching theme being, as Makoto says, that they are simply “cool. ” The clothes are mostly from Japanese designers and name brands with unique twists. In the store, clothing that has been donated with a lot of wear is labeled “well loved. ”Despite its importance in the community, the shop fell on tough times during the COVID-19 pandemic. To make matters worse, Tokio 7 was looted in the summer of 2020 and had 300 items stolen. When Makoto contemplated closing his doors permanently, longtime customers begged him to reconsider. Resilient as ever, he set up a small photography area in the back of the shop and sold a portion of his clothes online to compensate for the decline of in-person purchases. Reflecting on his journey, Makoto marveled at the whims of fate. Had he not been robbed all of those decades ago in California, he had planned to start a life in the Amazon rainforest
The space is fabulous at Billy Reid, furnished with vintage southern pieces and housed in an amazing Bond Street building. Billy began his fashion business in Alabama and opened up his inviting menswear enclave here in 2008. Soft flannel shirts, great suede boots, woven skinny ties, colorful bow ties, well-made blazers, beautiful striped shirts and more…I love everything about this boutique, and each time I stop by, I am inspired to make over the men in my family. Billy designs much of the clothing in the store (minus the Levi jeans). He has gorgeous fabrics to choose from for suits and sport jackets. And there is a tasteful selection for women, too.
Since 1985, D. L. Cerney has been a treasure-trove for any lover of vintage clothing. Heedless of changing fashion and consumer trends, as well as the general loss of public appreciation for well-made, long lasting, beautiful clothing that they have noticed, creators Linda St. John and Duane Cerney continue to stay true to their increasingly rare style. The creation of D. L. Cerney was entirely serendipitous: Linda and John arrived in Manhattan in 1984 to visit a friend with the intention of staying only for the week. Instead, they fell in love with the city. The ease with which they obtained their much-loved, first location on 7th Street was like “magic, " as was the contents of their store. As great admirers of vintage clothes, both Linda and Duane used all of their money throughout their 20s to amass the collection — culminating in the 26-foot U-Haul full of unworn, vintage clothes in the original factory boxes that they would sell in their new store. Knowing their collection was finite and irreplaceable, Linda and Duane began to slowly reproduce the vintage clothing they loved, relying on their far-reaching background with clothing design and creation. Linda taught herself to sew when she was 12 and always loved the beauty of well-made clothing. "We were so poor I would go to the junk stores. I looked at what rich ladies were throwing away and knew it was out of style, but marveled at the quality, " Linda explained. "And the quality of clothing back then lasted until around the late 60s because the consumer… expected quality for their money. Quality’s out the window now — it’s all hype, advertising, and just total BS. "Linda creates “statement maker” clothing in the style of the 1930s through 60s and emphasizes “quality, flattering fit, and beautiful fabrics. ” After closing their 7th St. location in 2013 and opening a studio in upstate New York, in 2017 the East Village once again had the good fortune of having D. L. Cerney open in the neighborhood. Today on 9th Street, D. L. Cerney enjoys a dedicated following of long-term customers and newcomers alike. The store also frequently provides clothes for period piece TV shows as well as numerous Broadway plays, including The Color Purple, Memphis and South Pacific. Linda's designs are influenced by Broadway, old movies, her research and her own memories. As we walked through her store, she excitedly pointed out a few of her favorites, including brightly patterned blouses in the style she remembers her aunts wearing, the timeless, high-waisted “field trouser” that dominate almost all old Hollywood movies and a row of reversible, wool jackets in the style of the '50s reversible jacket fad. Passing by a patterned tent dress with wide, square front-pockets, she plucked it off the rack and deemed it perfect for a day at the beach “with a pair of little red tennis shoes. ”D. L. Cerney not only displays clothing, but is also Linda's studio. “When I’m not busy with people, I am working with all my projects, ” she said. These projects include her critically acclaimed memoir, Where Dogs Go to Die, as well as her exhibit of dolls, 1000 Skinny Girls in a Dirt Yard, shown in the American Visionary Art Museum. The dolls’ clothing features junk food wrappers, potato bags and other traditionally discarded items. Linda is especially frustrated that many fashion businesses use plastic in their fabrics and wishes that more people would be interested in investing in clothing with fabrics that are wonderful, last for a long time, and naturally decompose.
Amanda Dolan and Meagan Colby have a wild, wacky, sparkly, and generally outrageous sense of style. On 9th street, they fit right in. Spark Pretty, their pop-up shop turned permanent storefront, has garnered plenty of attention since opening in the East Village in September 2017. The Manhattan Sideways team was eager to learn more about the story behind the store, and so we caught up with Amanda and Meagan on a quiet Tuesday in January. After stepping inside, the term “visual lifestyle brand” will make perfect sense to even the most fashion-hapless visitor. Amanda and Meagan have transformed the space from floor to ceiling with a spectacular collage of posters, lights, memorabilia, and clothing that is a work of art in itself. The design is anything but random. It does not take long to realize that everything has been carefully curated to reflect a particular aesthetic from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, and that when it comes to the clothing, a great deal of effort has gone into acquiring each vintage dress, pant, jumpsuit, skirt, jacket, and curated T-shirt. In fact, Spark Pretty is the result of a lifelong passion for iconoclastic style. Amanda, who grew up in Greenwich, CT, stuck out among her peers who dressed in the "latest shades of beige. " She cites childhood visits to thrift shops with her grandmother as one of the reasons she enjoys looking different. Meanwhile, in California, Meagan made fashion statements of her own, whether it was with purple hair, piercings, or a pair of oversized dad jeans. The two women agree that they were lucky. They always knew who they were and what they wanted to wear to reflect their personalities. Careful not to come off as shaking their fingers at the younger generation, the pair insist that searching for buried treasures in bins and boxes helped them hone their personal style in a way that has become less common in the internet age. "Sometimes you don’t know what you are looking for until you find it, " Meagan admitted. The two friends first met as stylists working at Betsey Johnson, but when the retail chain filed for bankruptcy, they decided to strike out on their own. As part of their inventory at Spark Pretty, they have a selection of one-off items from the Betsey Johnson showroom. Both women agreed that working at Betsey Johnson was their "apprenticeship. " After over fifteen years of friendship, road trips, and shopping, the Spark Pretty brand was born. Now, along with in-house designer Thomas Knight (whose custom work has appeared on Usher, Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Rihanna), they are sharing their treasures with the world. During our conversation, something else became clear: Amanda and Meagan are committed to the East Village community. When it came time to decide on a permanent location, they discovered that 9th street made perfect sense. For one, it is a great shopping street with funk that fits the Spark Pretty vibe. More than that, they immediately recognized that it is a real neighborhood with a "tight knit family of fellow small business owners, " the type of place where they can plant real roots. That is not to say that running the store is easy. Even if their work is a labor of love, there is still plenty of labor involved and Amanda and Meagan have set high expectations for themselves. “9th Street is magical, ” said Amanda. "This is our little jewel box. "
How nice to see birch trees, weeping willows and turtles sunning themselves in the pond in this garden of paradise. In El Jardin del Paraiso, a great big willow tree shades this space. While this tree is magnificent on its own, it is highlighted by an octagonal tree house that encircles its trunk. The wooden structure's design was donated by tree house architect Roderick Romero, who resides in the East Village. His work for this 4th street garden, in 2003, was his first community project and we were delighted to see him featured in a July 15, 2012 segment of the CBS Morning Show. We learned that he is known for his tree houses both in the US and abroad including those that he designed for Julianne Moore, Val Klimer, Donna Karan and Sting. Climb a few rungs of the ladder and you will be several feet above the ground, taking in the lush greenery and appreciating the talents of this esteemed architect.
Strolling along 5th Street, I was immediately drawn to a row of old-fashioned light bulbs hanging in the window of a small hair salon. Alexandra, the owner, invited me in while announcing that today, June 3, 2015, was Filament’s first day open! As I admired the salon’s hardwood floors and simple, appealing interior design, Alexandra told me that she and her co-owner, Seiji, had recently decided to leave the nearby hair salon where they both worked. A native Puerto Rican, Alexandra specializes in curly hair, while Seiji, originally from Japan, mostly works with straight hair and extensions. The pairing is perfect, Alexandra explained, because “there’s something for everyone here. ” And while she and Seiji have different styles, they both believe in a natural approach to hairdressing: instead of trying to change their clients’ hair, they embrace and enhance its natural beauty. The salon’s name reflects this philosophy. Alexandra and Seiji spent hours trying to decide what to call their new endeavor, but it did not click until they bought their signature light bulbs. When they saw the glowing filaments inside the shop, Filament Hair Salon was born - a place where "the light inside you shines through the strands of your hair. ”
By the time I arrived at Fish Bar on a Friday afternoon, a few regulars had already settled in. They chatted quietly as I explored the bar, which - true to its name - is decorated with fish and undersea creatures of all kinds. As I checked out Fish Bar’s reasonably priced drinks, which attract a diverse group of young people and locals, I wondered why the owner had decided on a nautical theme… and why there were so many dollar bills stuck to the ceiling. Fortunately, John, the owner, was happy to answer my questions. In the mid-nineties, he said, he frequented a bar called the Castro Lounge, which was unofficially known as “Fish Bar. ” When the owner put the bar on the market, John bought it and made the unofficial name official. Fish Bar opened on January 1st, 2000, and regulars immediately began bringing fish back from vacations to decorate the ocean-blue walls. “It escalated quickly, ” John said with a sigh. That explained Fish Bar’s origins, but not the money on the ceiling. According to John, it is a game invented by the regulars, who have a special technique to get the dollar bills to stick. But he refused to tell me anything else. “I guess you’ll just have to come by and check it out, ” he said, and I assured him that I would visit Fish Bar soon - with a wallet full of dollar bills.
When I first walked into Doggie Dearest, I had no idea that it was one of the oldest businesses on 5th Street. The reception area was decorated with leafy green plants and painted a cheerful shade of “dog’s ear pink, ” and the owner, Evelyn, took a break from grooming to share her story. Now a fixture on 5th, Doggie Dearest started out as a hobby. “I was bartending and working as a personal assistant, ” Evelyn said, “and I decided to take a grooming class. ” She discovered that she had a talent for the work and in 1993, Doggie Dearest was born. Though the business has grown over the years, Evelyn has not hired a large staff. She and her assistant do all of the grooming work, and she prides herself on the individualized care she gives to each pet. While other groomers often keep cats and dogs waiting for hours, Doggie Dearest is structured like a human hair salon, so that each animal gets a personal appointment. Evelyn also describes herself as the “first line of defense” against diseases: she has often alerted pet owners to symptoms they would never have noticed themselves. Between rising rents and her own battle with cancer, it has been difficult for Evelyn to keep the business afloat, but she keeps going, because she loves the work. “I even love the crazy dog people, ” she added, laughing.
"I found it to be a little boring to just sell jewelry so I tried to mix it up by adding some other items made by friends, " Christina Duarte Veronese revealed when we began our conversation. The shop has beautiful scarves, headbands, t-shirts, and, of course, an array of handmade jewelry designed by Christina herself. Arriving in New York from Rio in 1995, Christina's first job was selling leather products from Brazil. "The owner of my company was making belts for Ralph Lauren and he invited me here because I knew a lot about leather products. " But as she confessed, "I fell in love with metal, and then one thing led to another. "Before opening her boutique in 2011, Christina sold jewelry in flea markets and a variety of shows, but when a friend was giving up her lease on 7th Street, Christina said, on the spot, "I'll take it. " She makes everything in Brooklyn to sell in her East Village shop, and nowadays she finds that there are many customers who come back to her shop every time they are visiting New York. "It is because of them that I am still here. "
We love browsing around this eclectic gift shop whenever we are on 9th. It is clear that Urte Tylaite, the very sweet owner has a keen eye for a clean, minimalist aesthetic and a slant toward natural and organic shapes. Here one can find unique home goods, such as delicate glass-blown vases and ceramics crafted by local and international artists. We are particularly fond, however, of Urte's tasteful selection of jewelry. There is also a small collection of paper goods that includes books, notebooks, prints, and postcards. On one visit to Still House, we were delighted to meet Urte's mom who confirmed for us the careful consideration that her daughter puts into choosing the artists and craftspeople whose work is on display. It is apparent to us that it is "passion, not investment" that makes this store as special as it is.
This cleverly coined thrift store and vintage clothing boutique is named for its owner, Kate Goldwater, and sells women’s apparel, accessories, and jewelry. Kate pays careful attention to every item the shop sells, only bringing in what she “would wear or see someone wearing and think, ‘I like her style. '” She goes on adventures to stock the shop up to three times a week, sometimes road tripping as far as Wisconsin and Virginia to find the best products. She also has suppliers in Los Angeles and Brooklyn. Kate got involved in fashion by making her own clothing when she was young. She eventually turned the hobby into a business, but when she realized the repetitive labor that came with the occupation, she decided to take on consignment instead. While attending New York University, she experienced firsthand that even “cheap” vintage was not in the price range of college students. Now the owner of her own inexpensive “thriftique, ” Kate believes it is ”important that the clothes be affordable. ”When I asked about whether there was any plan for expansion on the horizon, Kate replied that she actually “did expand and did not like it. ” When she opened another location in Brooklyn, she struggled to be as hands-on as she had been with only one shop, and had difficulty stocking each of them to her satisfaction. Having closed the second store, her focus is devoted entirely to this East 7th Street location, which makes her quite happy.
Trash and Vaudeville is actually two stores – Vaudeville, full of colorful, ornamented clothing pieces, is a more kitsch environment, while Trash “is one of the seminal punk and goth stores of NYC. ” Founded in 1975 by Ray Goodman, Trash and Vaudeville began adorning Rockers, Mods, Punks, Goths, and Rockabillies – “everyday working class heroes who just wanted to walk and dress on the wild side. ” Today, the store continues to cater to a similar audience, dressing rock stars, such as Lady Gaga, counter culturists, as well as the average New Yorker and tourist. Besides the bright colors, feather boas, and rubber dresses, the store’s character is derived from the people working here – most notably, Jimmy Webb. He is the epitome of rock n’ roll and an era gone by - wearing tight pants that hug his body, a leather studded vest, metal bracelets that coil up his arm, and a shag haircut that shields his eyes. Jimmy's tough appearance is marked with the gentlest of souls. He tells us that he loves Iggy Pop, that he wants to be a “little piece of a great big thing happening, ” but most importantly that he loves this store. In fact he is completely devoted to it. As he bops from left to right, Jimmy cannot help but charm every visitor... and he treats each of them with the utmost kindness, whether it be a star who walks in, a music lover, or someone who is simply exploring - like us. While the store is aesthetically memorable, Jimmy makes it much more noteworthy. A few years after our interview with Jimmy, Trash and Vaudeville moved from its longstanding home on St Marks to a location on 7th Street. However, the spirit, punk vibe, and killer style (not to mention Jimmy! ) followed the store. We have left up our photographs of the St. Marks store as an homage to the location that started it all. Can't get enough? See more of our interview with Jimmy here.