Georgetown used to be the only game in town when it came to retail in D.C., touting easy walkability, historic charm and a diverse array of shops with broad appeal to customers. New retail hubs are starting to compete with that model though as large-scale redevelopments sweep over the rest of the District. Some of these new retail centers are the result of decades of planning. Others reflect the natural evolution of gentrification in dense, central corridors. And some are just now being unveiled. Each one offers something different: interesting shops or food choices, or extra activities outside of shopping. But they’re all worth exploring.
Restaurants, retail and condos have risen quickly and concurrently on 14th Street NW between Thomas Circle and W Street over the past decade. A slew of new luxury retail players has diversified the mix and brought added draw to the corridor.
First, there’s Shinola. The Detroit-based watch, bicycle and leather brand moved into a massive, sun-soaked historic space on 14th and R streets NW earlier this year. Even if you’re not interested in buying a watch, bike or fine leather football, the store is worth entering, just to look around.
Anyone in need of gifts for the outdoorsy men in their life should visit Filson, right down the street. Inside the small store you can expect to find Barbour-esque leather jackets, bison wool gloves and hats, and plenty of flannels. Be sure to feel the moleskin shirt, an incredibly soft and warm layer for winter.
There’s more menswear on the northern part of the strip at Federal, which shares a space with skate shop Palace 5ive. Head to Federal for hip clothing, outerwear and wallets, or to Palace 5ive and grab a stylish pair of Vans for someone on your list.
For the hip chicks in your life, Treasury and Current Boutique are two high-end vintage shops where you need to be, on 14th between S and T streets NW.
Need something for the house? There are at least a dozen home décor and furniture stores on the strip for small gifts like scented candles or big ones like a new couch.
The best part about shopping on 14th Street though is access to some of the city’s best food. With Le Diplomate, Barcelona, Kapnos and other restaurants nearby, you’ll never get hungry while scouring the corridor for the perfect gift.
From afar, CityCenter looks much like the rest of downtown D.C. The development is square, glass, imposing and pretty much lacking in personality. A Christmas tree, an LED screen walkway and music playing do lend some holiday cheer, but make CityCenter even more reminiscent of a run-of-the-mill vacation destination shopping center, like Disney World or Honolulu.
But what CityCenter lacks in charm, it makes up for in high-end shopping. And we are talking the highest of the high. Big names in fashion — Gucci, Hermes, Burberry, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton — are there. Outerwear giant Arc’teryx has a shop for anyone going skiing this winter. And if you don’t have good luggage, check out the premium products at Tumi. But Loro Piana and Paul Stuart, two lesser names, are the standouts for their winter wear designs and the high-quality materials used to make them.
A big part of CityCenter’s appeal, though, is the food. Try out Momofuku’s world famous ramen or some of famed chef Daniel Boulud’s recipes at DBGB. For something more low key, grab some Crack Pie ice cream or a cookie at Milk Bar, Momofuku’s bakery concept. Or try something healthier, like a salad or smoothie at Fruitive, a new vegan concept that uses fresh, organic ingredients.
Stores are rolling open at the Shay, a new development in Shaw that packs a retail punch along with the nearby Atlantic Plumbing development.
Just across the street from popular gay sports bar Nellie’s is Warby Parker, the eyewear brand that opened its first D.C. store at 3225 M St. NW in Georgetown. The space is a bit larger than the Georgetown store, and has a more modern aesthetic and a bright, nearly neon mini-marquee that shouts the brand’s name from the corner of 9th and U streets NW. A few doors down from Warby Parker, Chrome Industries, an outfitter specializing in durable apparel and messenger bags, opened last week.
Another formerly online-only retailer, Frank & Oak, also moved in over the past few weeks. The Montreal-based company is known for its reasonably priced, fashionable menswear, which is designed in-house, and has been expanding its brick-and-mortar operations over the past few years with store openings in Chicago, Boston, Toronto and Montreal.
Other highlights at the Shay include a newly opened Compass Coffee and a huge, window-front space for Kit and Ace, a new brand from the family that owns Lululemon. Much of the relatively hip apparel is made with what the company calls technical cashmere, a machine-washable blend of fabrics that mimics cashmere but requires little maintenance.