Boston’s hottest new stores and services
Over the summer and into the fall, Boston has been invaded by a new wave of upscale stores, boutiques, salons, and even a hot new workout program that promises to bring out your animal instincts, or at least make you howl like a wolf in pain the following day.
At the risk of depleting your retirement savings and your children’s college funds, here’s a quick review of some of the season’s new retail arrivals. There’s Amsterdam-based menswear label Scotch & Soda (352 Newbury St., 857-400-9401, www.scotch-soda.com), Vans DMQ General (174 Newbury St., 617-262-0333, www.vansdqm.com), and menswear giant John Varvatos (Copley Place, 100 Huntington Ave., 617-236-8650, www.johnvarvatos.com). There’s also a new service called Manicube that allows the time-crunched to get 15-minute manicures at the office (www.manicube.com).
The modern, Scandinavian-influenced furniture sanctuary Lekker (617-542-6464, www.lekkerhome.com) relocated to a larger location at 1313 Washington St. in the South End and is expanding its product lines. And next month, the vintage cookbook and cookware shop Farm & Fable opens in the South End at 251 Shawmut Ave. (www.farmandfable.com).
If, after shopping these locations, you haven’t gone over your credit limit, here are a few more hot new arrivals you should be aware of — before you start making your holiday shopping lists.
Bittar’s jewelry, which can be found at his recently opened store on Newbury Street, is not for shrinking violets. It makes sense that celebrities flock to his bold statement pieces. The jewelry has been spotted on everyone from Lady Gaga to fashion doyenne Iris Apfel. His advertising campaigns have featured both Joan Collins and Lauren Hutton, but the New Yorker’s favorite celebrity client is first lady Michelle Obama.
“I don’t think my mom has ever been more impressed,” Bittar said. “Actually, I don’t think she had been impressed with any celebrity who had worn my jewelry until then.”
Bittar’s jewelry has been sold in various Boston boutiques for the past 20 years, but he thinks the time is right for the city to have a Bittar boutique of its own.
“There’s two big components that appreciate my work,” he said. “There’s one that’s drawn to art — way more so in Boston than in other places. The other is this contemporary younger girl who loves fashion. I think Boston is increasingly becoming more style conscious, and now you have these girls there who want to look like they just walked out of Style.com.
130 Newbury St., 617-236-0505, www.alexisbittar.com
When she closed her Newbury Street store Stel’s in summer 2012, local style maven Tina Burgos was in no rush to launch a new project. She landed a job as director of women’s buying at online retailer Karmaloop. But when she was ready to jump back into retail, she made two big changes: Her store would be online, and she would aim for a lower price point.
With the average price of a garment hovering at $400 at Stel’s, Burgos found that the store appealed to just a sliver of Bostonians.
“In this market, I think it’s really hard to find that luxury where you’re less than $400,” Burgos said. “If you’re below $100 it’s very fast fashion and if you’re above the $500 to $600 you’re entering Barneys and Bergdorf [Goodman] territory.”
Her new online store sells women’s clothes, housewares, and vintage items in the $200 range. She also is planning future pop-up shops for the website.
“The thing I miss about the store is the interaction with clients,” she said. “I feel like if Covet + Lou takes off, we can revisit that idea of a store. But that’s going to be down the road.”
Following the lead of J.Crew, Club Monaco is breaking out its men’s department into a separate shop that features masculine decor for men who have an aversion to shopping in the proximity of women’s clothes. The country’s first Club Monaco Men’s opened at the Prudential Center this month, with an expanded line and an emphasis on clothes that are made in the US.
“We found that our dual gender stores are successful,” said Aaron Levine, vice president of men’s design at Club Monaco. “But it’s also become apparent to us that when our product is presented in its own environment, it’s a much more comfortable experience for a guy.”
Levine said Club Monaco Men’s will carry exclusive items, and place an emphasis on collaborations and clothes that are made in the US. There are collaborations with brands such as Ernest Alexander, Mark McNairy, Rancourt & Co., Wood & Faulk, and Terrapin Stationers. As for the space itself: think nautical light fixtures and antiques rugs. Perfect for the man who needs to shop until he drops.
Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., 617-262-2658,
Gold has always been instrumental in beauty, contends Stephanie Marks, marketing manager for the luxury beauty brand Oro Gold. She offers a thumbnail history lesson dating back to Cleopatra (“Who was rumored to sleep with a gold mask,” she says), the ancient Romans, and the Tang Dynasty. Cue Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger,” because Oro Gold just opened a shop in Copley Place and hopes to convince Bostonians that gold is the way to maintain good skin.
“There are several qualities to it,” Marks said. “It’s an antioxidant and it’s hypoallergenic. You can use it for everything from anti-aging to acne.”
The gold comes from Italy, though the exact location is a secret. These serums and creams don’t come cheap. The 24K Nano Hydra Silk Mask sells for $1,500. Marks points out that the expense isn’t all gold-related — those formulas are also a secret — but there are several other products that don’t break the bank. All of the cosmetics can be sampled in the store’s spa-like interior.
Copley Place, 100 Huntington Ave., 877-554-1777, www.orogoldcosmetics.com
Boston has been under siege by blowout salons for the past year, and now the woman who pioneered the movement in 2010 has opened a shop in Boston, and will soon open a Chestnut Hill location. Owner Alli Webb has opened more than 30 Drybar locations across the country (no cuts, no color), serving over 100,000 customers a month.
For those who are looking for more than a blowout, the posh salon Mizu at the Mandarin recently opened Zu Bar. Expect to spend less at Zu Bar. The junior stylists charge $75 for a women’s haircut, as opposed to Mizu’s $125-plus price tag. Blowouts with junior stylists are $45 rather than Mizu’s $75.
Drybar, 234 Clarendon St., 617-449-7287, www.thedrybar.com.
Zu Bar, 776 Boylston St., 617-585-6498, www.mizuforhair.com.
Despite the girly name, the new spa on Newbury Street tackles both men’s and women’s skin. You can get the standard treatments here, such as facials and peels, but what makes the spot unique is its oxygen treatment.
With a device that looks like a silver pen, aestheticians use oxygen to blast hyaluronic acid into the skin to moisturize it and reduce wrinkles.
I gave it a try and looked a little less dried out and tired than usual. No small feat for my haggard epidermis.
18 Newbury St., 617-262-1607, www.prettyology.com.
Miami-based fitness trainer Mike Fitch had grown tired of lifting weights. He was bulky, he was muscular, and he was bored.
“I was big and jacked,” he said. “But I realized it was something I didn’t want to sustain. I wasn’t moving well, I always had some kind of injury. So I decided to go in the exact opposite direction.”
He put down the dumbbells and started experimenting with bodyweight disciplines, ranging from gymnastics to breakdancing. What he settled on has become a new fitness rage: Animal Flow.
“Animal movements have been around for thousands of years,” Fitch said. “I took the animal movements and figured out a way to use them in a way that we could get the most carry-over in terms of stabilization, the most caloric expenditure, and the most conditioning out of each form.”
The end result does not look like a scene out of “The Jungle Book,” but instead involves lots of hand balancing, close-to-the-ground movements, stabilization, crawling, and moves that mimic those of our four-legged friends.
Equinox, 255 Dartmouth St. (and other city locations), 617-426-2140, www.equinox.com