The Fashion MixtapeBy Iquo B. Essien, The AFRican Blogger

The Fashion Mixtape
By Iquo B. Essien, The AFRican Blogger

Published on Sun, Jan 20 2008 by Iquo Essien
I have to make a small confession: I hate to shop -- with a passion, really. I don't know if it's because I used to work at SEARS in high school and had to spend excessive amounts of time arranging and rearranging clothes or standing idly behind the cash register. Add to that my short stint as an executive trainee with MACY*S Merchandising Group, bringing you private-label brands such as Charter Club, INC, and American Rag (I know, ur thinking, but I've never heard of ANY of those before). Then there's the New York element, with too many crazed, plastic-toting women ready to knock me down if I get anywhere near that medium-sized, turquoise top they've been eyeing from across the room.

I honestly cannot compete with that, so I usu only shop when I need something, go directly to the store where I can get it, and make a beeline for the thermal underwear rack. But there are a coupla stores that I don't mind spending a little extra time in, and maybe even trying on clothes just for fun.

ADDY & FERRO ($$$)

This spot, located in Fort Greene, BK, began as a consignment store for local designers with a portion of sales going to the shopowners. But then they shifted to buying the clothes outright, transforming into a bonafide boutique. Honestly, if I only had one place in the world left to shop, it would be here (wait a minute...there's a cool joint in JoBurg called Sowearto that would probably get my dollaz, so scratch that!). OK, if I only had one place left in Bklyn to shop, it would be A&D. The owner is a cool sistah and they carry brands like Tracy Reese, Mobolaji, and Coup d'Etat that can unlock the revolutionary fashionista in anyone. Every now and again they have backyard sales, too, which is when I'm most likely to pick something up. Check out their blog for more info.


(FYI, that's my girl Esosa reppin Harriets hard.)

Now it seems like EVERYbody knows about Harriets. They've had so much great press, esp since their meager beginnings on the street festival circuit eight years ago.

I distinctly remember "Harriets Girls" strolling through Prospect Park once during a concert, modeling their fashion-forward garb for the public. When I first went into the store, I thought it was a great representation of classic Bklyn style with the cowl necks, deconstructed skirts and the like. Harriets seemed to have a preponderance of them, but that didn't really appeal to me since those styles don't really look good on my body. I actually thought the mens fashions they featured were better than the womens, and was ready to write them off completely, thinking they'd pidgeon-holed their style too far, when I noticed the batik fabrics, great bags, accessories, body lotion, and even music. The recent addition of a gallery, not to mention the hip, approachable owners Hekima Hapa and Ngozi Odita, is really why they're on this list: they pushed the envelope and took it to the next level, and I have to respect that.

CENTURY 21 ($ - $$$)

The first time I went into Century 21, I fell in love. It was a challenge, four or five floors of discounted designer clothes just waiting to be discovered, so I rolled up my sleeves. Pulling that first amazing top free from the rack, I felt accomplished. That being said, don't go there unless you're properly hydrated and have eaten in the last hour (or maybe have a snack on hand?) cause you're gonna be there for a minute. One thing the associates can't seem to keep up with is the rapid turnover in the fitting room, so there are often stacks of clothes in bins blocking the aisles, not to mention a gaggle of tourists. But if you really want your pick of international designers at reasonably affordable prices, go check it out.

HARLEMADE ($ - $$)

If you're chillin' up in Harlem, stop by a little shop on Lenox Ave btw 118th & 119th Streets called Harlemade. The gift store opened in November of 2000, and features merchandise celebrating Harlem and African-American culture. I first heard about them at a street fair in Hell's Kitchen where I purchased a tote bag with Angela Y. Davis on it -- still get the most comments on it than any other accessory I own. I think the concept and execution of their gear is excellent, and I like that they carry a pretty good balance of mens and womens clothes. That, and the owner had a credit card machine on hand at the fair, so I didn't have to dash to the ATM to get cash for my bag. I've gotta admire a woman with business savvy. ;)


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