Last year marked the first time online retail sales exceeded those of brick and mortar shops, and that was before 2020 came along and forced everyone to stay home. Nowadays, we’re more inclined to click through a website than enter a department store. Whether you’re adding to cart via Instagram or you drunkenly bought a vintage Chanel jacket and a dolphin necklace from your bed at 2AM (no regrets), shopping online is so damn simple. While major e-commerce sites like Amazon and Nordstrom still dominate as shopping destinations, it’s worth bookmarking the unsung indie boutiques, direct-to-consumer brands, and little-known labels that offer something different from the normal retailer. Some of our favorites below.
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Sincerely, Tommy is where all your cool Brooklyn friends flock. The IRL coffee and fashion store is decked out in concrete and decorated with modern sculptures and plants you can’t name. The shop sells its affordable in-house label alongside indie brands like Gauntlett Cheng, making it a one-stop shop for all your high-low needs. These days its website is more accessible than its Bed-Stuy storefront, but the experience is equally peaceful (you will, however, miss out on their excellent matcha lattes and attractive baristas).
Cafe Forgot picks up where Opening Ceremony (RIP) left off. The Lower East Side shop highlights designers you’ve definitely never heard of—seriously, some of their brands don’t actually have websites yet. That’s because the founders, Vita Haas and Lucy Weisner, seek to uplift indie brands they scour from Instagram, design school, and elsewhere for styles that fit “a DIY aesthetic and a quasi-punk ethos.”
Sure, it’d be great to fly to Seoul to discover all the amazing brands based in Korea. Shopping at W Concept is your second best bet. The site has over 1000 independent designer brands, so set a few hours aside to mindlessly scroll through their excellent selection of clothing, accessories, and footwear.
Currently, almost everything on Mirror Palais’ site is sold out. But with a fan base including Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid, it only makes sense. The New York-based brand makes extra high crop tops, ’90s bikinis your hot mom would have worn, and more ultra sexy pieces that disappear from your cart as soon as you add it. Make sure to keep an eye on them, because they’re restocking their shop soon, and you know it’ll disappear within a blink.
Maimoun is almost too cool, but welcomes you with open arms. Actually. The name is derived from the Persian word “meh-moun,” meaning “the company or guest(s) who are invited to visit your home for a gathering.” Virtually stop by and make yourself comfortable while you shop from beautiful selects including Instagram’s favorite tapestry corset or undular ceramics made by New York-based artists.
There’s more to Gimaguas than summery resort wear, but we’d be wary of packing for a vacation without peeking at the brand’s website. Founded by twin sisters Sayana and Claudia, the shop offers modern interpretations of glamorous ’70s beach style, made in collaboration with NGOs in Senegal, Nepal, and abroad.
If you like your jewelry loud, colorful, and most importantly, plentiful, make sure you check out Baublebar. They have limited styles sold at retailers like Bloomingdales, but their own site has so much more to offer. With the exception of their newly launched fine jewelry collection, most of their styles fall under $50. You’re bound to get all the compliments.
Lisa Says Gah
Become a master of easy dresses and print clashing alike with Lisa Says Gah. The retailer mixes together campy brands like The Holiday with Mara Hoffman for an edit of designers and styles that is bound to put a smile on your face.
The Frankie Shop
If you love Old Celine, you’ll love Frankie Shop, and you’ll really love their budget-friendly clothes. The NYC-based site curates their in-house label alongside contemporary brands like Rachel Comey and LOQ. Make sure you follow their Instagram too, for a muted palette to inspire you in fashion, home decor, and more.
If you’ve ever tried visiting one of Everlane’s seven brick and mortar shops (not that IRL shopping is nationally allowed), you know all too well that a line is usually waiting out the door. Their eco-friendly, socially conscious clothes are worth the wait, but we prefer shopping on their easy-to-navigate, fully-stocked website instead.
Koi Bird is a concept store that, simply put, is fun. It changes its theme seasonally, running anywhere between Venice Beach vibes to exploring Lagos Fashion Week. You’ll discover new brands on the daily, so its hard not to frequent this site. We recommend bookmarking them asap.
T.A. New York
This brand new concept store is deftly curated by a fashion industry vet. Launched in May 2020, this store highlights brands handpicked from Tbilisi to South Korea to Los Angeles by owner Telsha Anderson. Look to this brand for up-and-coming designers you should be paying attention to.
House of Sunny
For the maximalists on there, House of Sunny has your back. And your wallet. The label aims to bring you statement pieces designed in-house from their East London base, but at prices that aren’t nearly as shocking as these zebra print jeans and faux fur-trimmed cardigan.
The Folklore is here to bring you an small edit of what Africa & the diaspora has to offer. From brands like Paolo Sisiano seen here, pieces here are all about storytelling. Think of The Folklore as a library for creatives to keep on tab. The store also took on Taylor Swift, so there’s that too.
The Last Line
If you like your diamonds with a dash of playful energy, bookmark The Last Line. This LA label gives each piece a heavy dose of charm—literally. Think 14k peace sign pendants, flower earrings decked out in sapphires, and more colorful gems to invest in.
Slowly graduating from traditional street style means that you’re probably trading in kicks for loafers and screen tees for camp shirts… But that doesn’t mean you’re not still eyeing both aesthetics. That’s where Union steps in. As one of the first hubs of high street style, the shop offers brands like Bode and Brain Dead. Get you a store that can do both.
Musier is beloved by influencers and non-influencers alike. It interprets effortless Parisian style for the masses, and the end result is everything we want to wear right now. That includes this strappy midi skirt we’ve been seeing all over our grids.
Think of WELL(UN)KNOWN as that one friend who knows all the hottest brands. They’re all about exposing customers to emerging labels, including industry darling John Elliot, jewelry designer Mara Paris, and others.
What started as a small shop in the Lower East Side of Manhattan has turned into an online trove of affordable sartorial treasures. Pixie Market has something for everyone, whether it’s their minimalist ’70s clothing or $20 gold hoops. Their tight edit of on-trend clothes is unbranded, high quality, and priced fairly— rarely does an item exceed $150. But if you see something get it quickly, because their items are known for selling out fast.
Aritzia is one of our go-to brands for everyday essentials, but their IRL stores can be overwhelming. Shopping their website means you can bypass the wandering aimlessly (and avoid their group fitting rooms and hectic sale racks).
Stylenanda is a staple in its home base in Korea, but they’re just getting started here in the US. The brand is known for flirty dresses at a super affordable price, but make sure you don’t miss out on their K-beauty brand 3CE, which was recently acquired by L’Oréal.
Justine Carreon is the market editor at ELLE.com covering fashion, Dutch ovens, and fashion again.
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