Philadelphia Boutique Shopping: A Guide to Local Fashion

Philadelphia is no New York (thankfully). And when it comes to fashion, the City of Brotherly Love—with its historic textile district and creative locals—has a style all its own. This fall, oM took the short train ride down to explore the Philadelphia Collection and a little homespun, and oh-so-chic, Philly flair.

Where to Eat and Sleep in Style

Of course, one cannot do shopping justice without a little rest and sustenance. Here, the best options for a fashionable weekend.


Set in Philadelphia’s historic Architecture Building, just off Rittenhouse Square, the Hotel Palomar combines sleek style, delectable luxury, and an eco-chic sensibility. (117 S 17th Street, from $175 per night).

Set in the moody basement of haute-restaurant Le Bec-Fin, the “younger” (and more affordable) Tryst serves up tasty small plates in a sleek environment. But let’s face it: You’re here for the litany of incredible cocktails (1523 Walnut Street).

Lacroix feels every bit as old-world glamour as the Rittenhouse Hotel in which it resides. Even the enormous burgers (served at lunchtime) are elegant. (210 West Rittenhouse Square).

Stephen Starr, Philadelphia’s prince of restaurants, brings a little piece of Paris to Rittenhouse Square with the lively French Bistro Parc. The interior is gorgeous, but in the warmer months, the place to see and be seen is on the park-facing sidewalk (227 South 18th Street)

Star chef Michael Schulson, who brought Budakan to New York, is behind the modern Asian fare served up at Sampan, where the edgy tone is set with the food and echoed distressed metals, rustic woods, and back-lit, color-changing tree montage in the dining room. We also loved the movie voice-overs that rotate in the bathrooms (124 South 13th Street).

Yes, Philadelphia is the birthplace of cult favorites Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, but its wealth of unique institutions is what really makes the city a fashion mecca.

The feel at long-time Philadelphia mainstay, Boyd’s (1818 Chestnut Street)—which started with mensware in 1938 and began carrying high-end ladies’ fashion in ‘93—is still one of old-fashioned grandeur, even more so on its newly renovated second floor, where rich mahogany, full bars, and expert tailors recall the glamorous days when a suit was so much more than just a suit.

On the quirkier end of the spectrum is the bright Joan Shepp (1616 Walnut Street), where stunning duds from world-renowned designers (and an equally stellar local set) await under the gaze of artist Alexander Stadler’s Willie, a fashionable one who sports various enviable looks on the boutique’s walls.

And over in Old City, historic brick buildings become a treasure trove for hipsters, fashionistas and vintage lovers, with shops like the Briar Vintage (62 North 3rd Street), a meticulously curated dandy heaven, and Art in the Age (116 North 3rd Street), a great go-to for funky tees, totes, and assorted oddities.

The Trendsetters
Populating these and other shops are a gaggle of incredible local personalities, who bring their style, savvy and social consciences to the fore of Philly fashion. Among them is Sarah Van Aken, who epitomizes sustainable fashion, with SA VA (1700 Sansom Street), her line of locally designed, sourced, and produced clothing. Ninety percent of the line’s fair-trade fashion is made in the garment center above the flagship store, and the company is also very involved in community outreach.

Then there is trendsetting Nigel Richards, the DJ-cum-fashion-designer, who launched 611 Lifestyle, a line of cool clothing. The line’s “DJ Life” collection contains casual, funky items inspired by the now-closed 611 Records store (think tees emblazoned with the phrase, “DANCE YOU FUCK”), while the grown-up “Luxe Life” collection consists of sleek suits, luxurious weekenders, and sophisticated women’s pieces by another local designer, Echo Chic founder Jennifer Ramsey. The line is available in various local boutiques, including the hip Matthew Izzo (111 South 12th Street).

How to get there: Consult oM’s public transportation guide to Philadelphia

Photos: M. Edlow for GPTMC and Parc shot by the author

View Self-Guided Fashion (and Food) Tour of Philly in a larger map