Best New Men's- Clothing Retail Alley (2010)

Bleecker Street

Summer in New York, as Derek Walcott once described it, is walking down Bleecker Street, "dusk in the nostrils and the smell of water" in the air. But in 2010, of course, Bleecker mostly smells like the exhaust from Russell Simmons's idling town car as he shops for a few more Polo sweaters: Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger, and Sex and the City have long since karate-chopped out of existence whatever vestiges of bohemia were left on the western reaches of one of New York's most venerable streets. But there's a tiny, block-long resurgence afoot: In the past year, both the zeitgeisty Freemans Sporting Club and the venerable American clothing label Gant have opened outposts on Bleecker. The stores, which are within a hundred yards of one another, sell similar stock: plaid, khaki, and weathered leather repurposed into various belts, shoes, and bags, the now de rigueur accoutrements of an "urban-woodsman" trend that shows no signs of slowing down. Together, they offer a light reproach to the acres of Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren that surround them—or, at the very least, more unruly facial hair than the neighborhood is used to these days.


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