By Amber Lanier Nagle
The Internet has brought a world of inventory to our fingertips, enabling us to search, customize and purchase just about any product imaginable. But the personal experience offered at boutiques and dazzling displays at department stores continue to attract shoppers excited by the thrill of the hunt. Fortunately, many of the world’s elite retail destinations are right here in North America: From New York City’s historic Fifth Avenue shops to Atlanta’s up-and-coming Buckhead neighborhood, there is something for every shopping enthusiast.
Known for blending classic Hollywood glamour and laid-back beach culture, Los Angeles boasts retail enclaves sure to satisfy even the most discerning world travelers. Well-known brands are in close proximity to locally owned shops, presenting visitors and locals with a range of choices to fit individual styles. Santa Monica, one of Los Angeles County’s beachfront cities, is filled with shops that harness the relaxed California lifestyle.
“Third Street Promenade provides national brands that our guests are looking for—think Apple, MAC cosmetics, Banana Republic, surf shops and the Converse store where you can customize footwear, apparel and accessories,” says Michael Fox, concierge at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.
A truly diverse and well-stocked shopping destination that sits close to the coast, the Third Street Promenade is home to malls, department stores and boutiques. The Santa Monica Place mall sits at one end of the promenade with Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom serving as anchor stores to a lineup of smaller, chic retail visionaries like Joe’s—an LA-based brand that offers comfortable, polished denim. The open-air center is also a celebrity favorite, featuring ocean views and a plethora of casual and upscale restaurants.
Another star-studded stretch is situated on Montana Avenue between 7th and 17th streets, where visitors will find beauty boutiques, unique jewelry and clothing stores, and chic cafes, still only steps from the beach.
Travel inland to shop the famed Hollywood & Highland Center, filled with everything from Lucky Brand Jeans to Louis Vuitton. The area is also a prime dining and entertainment destination right off the Walk of Fame, making sightseeing between perusing stores a breeze.
LA has long been known for its extravagance, and its shopping scene follows suit. Only a couple miles from Hollywood & Highland, Sunset Plaza holds a grouping of upscale boutiques worthy of fashion icons. Offering an elegant atmosphere of high-end shops and upscale eateries, the shopping center was the rightful host of 2014’s stylish Vanity Fair Oscar party. For a more family-friendly shopping affair, Universal CityWalk’s quarter-mile of exciting retail options pleases shoppers of all ages.
Big City Style
America’s fashion capital, New York City, hosts streets upon streets of opportunities to take home the latest trends and thoughtful gifts. “New York City is home to some of the most upscale shops in the entire world, [including] blocks and blocks of flagship fashion-house boutiques and chic designer shops,” says David Moreno, chef concierge of Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue, walking distance to many of the city’s most sought-out shops.
Most city shopping starts on Fifth Avenue with a mandatory visit to Saks Fifth Avenue, continuing uptown to retail destinations unique to New York such as Bergdorf Goodman. The iconic Madison Avenue also provides shoppers with more than 100 stores to explore, ranging from hip up-and-coming labels to mainstays like Barneys New York, David Yurman, Coach, Tiffany & Co. and Ralph Lauren—all headquartered in New York City.
Beyond Fifth and Madison avenues, shoppers will find plenty of other neighborhoods that elevate the consumer experience to new levels. Discover the businesses that inhabit the cast-iron buildings of Soho, where street fashions comingle with runway looks. Anthropologie, Aritzia, Uniqlo and French Connection populate the streets of Soho along with quirky spots like Evolution, where kids and adults alike marvel at science collectibles and museum-worthy specimens.
Wander just east of Soho and you’ll find the upscale Nolita neighborhood, an area well known for its stylish stores, bars and restaurants since the 1990s. “Nolita is full of one-of-a-kind shops and artsy boutiques,” Moreno says. “Favorites include Clare Vivier, Otte and Haus Interior. … Shoppers with a taste for antiques and vintage replicas will revel in the garden decor and architectural building finds housed at the Elizabeth Street Gallery.”
The retail landscape in New York is constantly changing, with new businesses opening every week and plenty of pop-up stores and sample sales to keep shoppers on their toes.
Now hosting its own fashion weeks and fostering talented young designers gaining nationwide recognition, the South is a hot spot for those seeking all things a la mode. Shoppers will find an especially high concentration of coveted outlets, including high-end retail stores, popular brands and chic boutique pop-ups in Atlanta.
Phipps Plaza, a premier shopping mall in the affluent Buckhead district, flaunts more than 100 stores like Jeffrey, Johnny Was and Vera Bradley. Just across the street at Lenox Square, shoppers have access to brands like Pandora and Cartier.
Mark Castriota, general manager of the Loews Atlanta Hotel, also recommends the Westside Provisions District on Howell Mill Road, where you can shop the outposts of contemporary interior design staples Jonathan Adler and Room & Board. “Atlantic Station is nice,” he adds. “[It’s] Atlanta’s only open-air mall with 50 unique retail shops and boutiques, a walkable streetscape-style setting with brick paved streets and a central park.”
With no shortage of retail destinations in the area, Castriota also points to the trendsetting Virginia Highland district in Atlanta, acclaimed for its antiques, gourmet kitchenware, folk and pop art, premium cigars and distinctive books.
Even with all of its current offerings, Atlanta’s shopping scene continues to burgeon. “Ponce City Market and its 330,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants is also on our horizon,” Castriota says. Expected to open in late 2014, the new shopping center inhabits a historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building and is poised to appeal to the city’s hip and sophisticated shoppers with a grand food hall, interesting shops and an art gallery.
Music City Merchants
A city overflowing with creativity, Nashville, Tenn. has not only emerged as a must-shop destination for handcrafted items and custom clothing, but also as a hub for designer brands such as Jimmy Choo, Burberry and Tory Burch.
“The Green Hills mall is just a few minutes’ drive from the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel and provides an upscale shopping experience,” says Tony Phillips, general manager of the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. He adds that favorites like Nordstrom, Brooks Brothers and Williams-Sonoma are among the shops that you can expect to find there.
“Neighboring Hill Center is perfect for open-air, boutique shopping with Southern staples like Billy Reid, Vineyard Vines … and local favorites like Kayce Hughes and H. Audrey, which is owned by Holly Williams, the granddaughter of country music legend Hank Williams,” he explains.
Shopping in Nashville isn’t complete without purchasing a pair of custom-fitted jeans from local denim brand Imogene & Willie. For an even more exclusive find, there’s tie-maker Otis James’ shop in the historic Marathon Village, a former automobile factory that has been transformed into an artisan community center that showcases locally produced items including spirits, candy, art, leather goods and apparel. Here, James sells handcrafted accessories in various prints and styles ranging from bow ties, ascots and pocket squares.
Montreal is home to a thriving and diverse fashion industry, connected by an underground network that allows travelers to swiftly and easily make their way from one shopping center to the next, according to Olivier Leprince, concierge at Loews Hôtel Vogue.
“For our guests hoping to discover rare finds, M0851 and Rudsak are great local stores for handbags, accessories and clothes, as is Matt & Nat, a vegan brand designed in Montreal,” Leprince says. “For sports fans, the official boutique of [Montreal’s hockey team] Les Canadiens at the Bell Centre offers hockey jerseys and many other official products.”
Many shoppers flock to Ogilvy, a department store known for its sampling of high-end retailers such as Dior, Escada and Rodier Paris. There’s also Les Cours Mont-Royal, a downtown shopping center housed in a historical structure that’s also a feast for the eyes with its Beaux-Arts architectural style.
The decidedly French Laurier Avenue hosts a nice concentration of upscale decor and children’s clothing shops between Clark Street and Querbes Avenue. Saint-Laurent Boulevard, also known as “the Main,” is one of Montreal’s most vibrant arteries with retail outlets galore, an energetic nightlife and restaurants to satisfy an array of palates.
No matter where your travels take you, count on a diverse and exciting array of shops to provide numerous gift options to take home to loved ones—or to keep for yourself.