New York is a shopper’s paradise, with popular shopping districts catering to all manner of tastes scattered throughout the city. No matter your favorite style or particular interest, there’s something for you here. However, if you’re pressed for time and need to be extra picky about where you head to fulfill your New York City shopping fix, you’d be hard-pressed to beat SoHo. The area was once industrial, before becoming a haven for artists, and this rich history is reflected in the many striking loft spaces and stirring examples of cast-iron architecture that dominate the area. Today, SoHo features New York City shopping of the finest caliber, and it’s full of high-end boutiques, brand-name department stores, frequent pop-up spaces, and more.
Getting to Know the Neighborhood
SoHo takes its distinctive name from a literal description of its location “south of Houston Street,” with Houston Street being a major lower Manhattan thoroughfare that runs all the way from FDR Drive along the East River to Pier 40 at Hudson River Park. It’s bordered by Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park to the north, Tribeca to the southwest, and Little Italy and Chinatown to the southeast.
In the first half of the twentieth century, SoHo was home to many factories and workshops. As deindustrialization took its toll on the area, a significant number of artists moved into the neighborhood during the 1970s and 1980s, and SoHo became famous for its cutting-edge arts scenes. Today, even though many of the most acclaimed galleries have moved elsewhere in the city, SoHo has evolved into one of New York’s most popular shopping districts, beloved for its boutiques, bistros, and of course, cobblestone streets. That’s right, it’s near-impossible to miss SoHo’s trademark cobblestones (which are, it should be pointed out, more accurately described as “setts,” though cobblestone remains the more commonly applied term), and architecture afficionados will also want to keep their eyes peeled for the neighborhood’s remarkable collection of cast-iron architecture. There are so many cast-iron buildings standing in SoHo, in fact, that it’s been said there are more such structures here than anywhere else in the world.
Popular SoHo Shopping Destinations
When you think of shopping in SoHo, the first thing that likely comes to mind is the high-end boutique. Believe it, the hype is real, as this shopping area is among the trendiest in the entire United States. Miu Miu, Chloé, Chanel, and so many more have establishments here—and if cutting-edge fashion is your cup of tea, they aren’t to be missed. If a buzz-worthy luxury brand or hot new designer has a brick-and-mortar location in New York City, there’s a very good chance it’s in SoHo.
You won’t find as many gallery spaces in SoHo as you would have in decades past, but there remain plenty of spots for art lovers to experience that quintessential SoHo shopping magic. And no shopping trip in SoHo is complete without stopping at the MoMA Design Store. This multi-level facility sells an assortment of design objects, accessories, books, furniture and more. It’s a great spot to pick up a thoughtful gift, unique souvenir, home décor item, or all of the above!
Though SoHo gets a lot of attention for its high-end destinations and one-of-a-kind boutiques, it’s also home to many classic brand names, many of which can be found on Broadway. These include perennial clothing chain favorites like Lululemon, Converse, Lacoste, and Uniqlo, the Japanese casual wear clothing giant whose store is just steps from the charming Museum of Ice Cream.
Big-name department stores are no strangers to SoHo, and they don’t come much bigger than Bloomingdale’s, which has a location on Broadway. Bloomingdale’s, of course, sells everything from clothing to furniture to cosmetics, home goods, accessories, and more.
Other Ways to Enjoy SoHo
If you’re interested, there are guided walking tours of SoHo available. Some of these well-regarded excursions—organized by acclaimed tour operator ExperienceFirst Tours—will also take you to nearby neighborhoods like Little Italy and Chinatown.
There are even guided walking tours of SoHo’s iconic shopping scene available, too. Free Tours by Foot, for instance, operates an outing that makes for a fun and informative way to shop until you drop, all while supporting local independent businesses.
The MoMA Design Store in SoHo is affiliated with, but not attached to the Museum of Modern Art. If you’re hoping to combine a stop at the MoMA Design Store in SoHo with a visit to the museum itself, it’s crucial to keep in mind that institution is located some three miles north of SoHo, on West 53rd Street.