clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

38 Essential San Francisco Shopping Experiences, Winter 2015

There are thousands of amazing stores in this great city of ours: These are the 38 that should be on your radar right now.

View as Map

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Welcome to the Racked 38, our seasonal list of the essential stores in San Francisco. Consider it a rough —though non-exhaustive— guide to the local shops worth browsing. Every few months, we give this roundup a few nips and tucks to adjust for stores that have closed and make room for spots that should be on your radar. That's not to say that we don't continue to love the stores that we've removed. They'll always hold a special place in our hearts. It's just that change can be good. With that in mind, we bid adieu to seven stores on the list this season to add both newcomers, (Ampersand and Rebecca Minkoff), San Francisco classics (Susan and Wilkes Bashford), and a few sentimental favorites (Two Skirts, Timbuk2, and Curator) that deserve a chance to shine.

As always, this list isn't a ranking— stores are organized in vaguely geographic clusters. Have suggestions? Is your favorite shop missing? Or do you think one of our picks is way off? We'll update the list again, and we're always looking for reader input. State your case for (or against) stores in the comments or email the tipline.

1/13/2015: Removed The Kooples, Elizabeth Charles, Barneys, Levi's, The Grocery Store, Amour Vert, Erica Tanov; added Rebecca Minkoff, Wilkes Bashford, Curator, Two Skirts, Ampersand, Susan, and Timbuk2

10/30/14: Removed Carrots and Acre/SF (closed); Uniqlo, Muji, Converse; added Amour Vert, Goorin Bros., The Grocery Store, Unionmade, and The Kooples
04/08/14: Removed Gallery of Jewels and Conifer (closed); added Mill Mercantile and Legion

Read More

Goorin Bros. Hat Shop

Copy Link
Hats are all the rage, and this homegrown company has been keeping San Franciscans covered for almost 120 years. While the company has four locations in SF, the North Beach shop is the flagship.

La Boutique: L'Art et La Mode

Copy Link
The best place in the city to channel your inner French girl. They carry Freda Salvador shoes, Shourouk jewelry, and throw an amazing party.

Eden & Eden

Copy Link
This Jackson Square shop carries unique housewares, vintage clothing, jewelry and other items you won't find anyplace else.
Former fashion writer Sydney Pfaff opened this Chinatown style spot last year. You'll find Dream Collective jewelry, Baggu bags, as well as clothing brands Rachel Rose, Theonne, and lots more to covet. Image via

Wingtip

Copy Link
Wingtip occupies the former Bank of Italy building. The 10th and 11th floors house an exclusive private club where you can smoke cigars, drink whiskey and eat charcuterie. And when you're all clubbed out and you've played enough billiards, take one of Wingtip's fancy Audis out on the town. You can shop for a suit, too.

Torso Vintages

Copy Link
Prepare to spend hours in this mindblowing vintage store, with clothes dating all the way back to the teens and spanning the decades up to the '80s and '90s.

Wilkes Bashford

Copy Link
You can thank Wilkes Bashford for introducing Italian labels like Armani to America. For almost 50 years, this posh store (now in its second San Francisco location) has delivered upscale merchandise with personalized customer service, Relish the old-school shopping experience at this mainstay. Photo via.

Industrie Denim

Copy Link
The best place in the city to buy jeans (plus dresses, shoes and accessories) for men and women. It's huge, and carries everything from Chanel vintage to Levi's. Photo via

Neiman Marcus

Copy Link
When you want to get a lot of shopping done at once and get lunch after, Neiman's is your department store.

Harputs

Copy Link
Harputs is a refreshing place to duck into if you're shopping in Union Square, with its hard-to-find brands including Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto Y-3.

Two Skirts

Copy Link
This gorgeous little shop can set you up with cashmere, premium denim, and a skirt... or two. (Plus it's one of SF Ballet principal dancer Vanessa Zahorian's faves.) Photo via via
Sean is the only place you can buy Paris designer Emile Lafaurie's menswear. If you want to channel your inner French film star, this is your store. PHoto via
This Pacifica Heights jewel is not for the bargain hunter, but it is your source for Ann Demeulemeester, Haider Ackerman, Marni, Dries Van Noten and many more covetable European brands.

Rebecca Minkoff

Copy Link
Yes, this store just opened, but it's already on our must-see list. There's no shortage of retailers in San Francisco that carry Ms Minkoff's wares, but the Fillmore flagship is redefining the retail experience with smart, touchscreen mirrors and RFID technology.

The Brooklyn Circus

Copy Link
A classic, modern men's clothing store with a cult following that hails from Brooklyn. You'll find classic sneaks, button downs with flair, letterman jackets, and lots more.

Welcome Stranger

Copy Link
Men's clothes that are stylish and never twee: APC Jeans, Filson, Woolrich, lots more. And they have an awesome couch for your lady friends to relax on while you shop.

MAC Modern Appealing Clothing

Copy Link
MAC in Hayes Valley was selling Dries Van Noten, Margiela and Jill Sander when the 101 still spilled directly into the Valley. In other words, they know their designers, and they sell the absolute best. Image via

Rand + Statler

Copy Link
Rand + Statler is one of those rare stores that will keep both men and women happily shopping for Vena Cava, Wren, Paul Smith, Timo Weiland and tons more.

Ver Unica

Copy Link
Fantastic vintage and stellar jewelry. If you don't find what you're looking for, check their other boutique up the street at 526 Hayes.

Reliquary

Copy Link
Gorgeous vintage clothing, jewelry, textile, and other objects of desire. Proprietor Leah Bershad hand picks small designer lines and vintage items to create a collection you won't find elsewhere.

Timbuk2

Copy Link
For more than 25 years, Timbuk2 has been outfitting locals with bags. What started as a bike messenger brand has grown into a full range of functional carryalls. This Hayes Valley store is the local spot where you can shop the full collection or design your own bag. Photo via

Dish Clothing

Copy Link
Dish has been in Hayes Valley long before the neighborhood was an absolute must shopping destination. In fact, they likely played a hand in making it one. You'll find Rhie, Rachel Comey, Raquel Allegra, NDC and plenty of local designers as well.

MAAS & Stacks

Copy Link
Men will find clothing basically for their whole life here, from the boardroom to the trail. You'll find crisp button-up shirts, parkas, backpacks, and shoes, both the casual and dress variety. And of course, only the highest-quality brands including Robert Geller, Adam Kimmel, Dana Lee and Band of Outsiders.

The Voyager Shop

Copy Link
Voyager has its own submarine inside, which itself is worth a visit. And the goods won't disappoint: all-American traveler-wear, including stationary on which to record your adventures.

BellJar

Copy Link
The shop's tagline is "gorgeous little things," and that about sums it up: apparel from Cory Lynn Calter, Funktional, Something Else, plus gifts for you and yours in the form of pretty candles, jewelry, and home decor.

Weston Wear

Copy Link
Julie Weston is a San Francisco designer whose super comfy, sometimes psychedelic print dresses and skirts go from work to cocktails with ease. The prices are beyond reasonable, and her sale racks are unparalleled. Image via

Ampersand

Copy Link
This tiny flower shop in a Mission alley is new, (it opened in August 2014), yet it has a classic San Francisco vibe. The owners obviously love floral design, but they've created a space —albeit small— that encourages community. And the bright blue barn doors beg to be Instagrammed.

Unionmade

Copy Link
Local men rave about the selection at Unionmade, both for the house labels and smaller, niche brands like Raleigh Denim. Whether you're shopping for yourself or someone else, you'll be hard-pressed to leave this store without finding something you love.

Paxton Gate

Copy Link
Whether you're landscaping you outdoor area or looking to bring the outdoors in with plant or a taxidermed chipmunk, this place has you covered. They also carry an assortment of unique and giftable books and jewelry.

Gravel & Gold

Copy Link
This shop off of Valencia in the Mission has you covered with clothing from Africa, Pennsylvania and everywhere in between. You'll find the best gifts: books, journals, bags, jewelry and lots more. Also look out for their workshops on how to make stuff. Image via

mira mira

Copy Link
You'll find international brands in this shop that you won't find anywhere else. Mira scours the globe for undiscovered designers so you can buy them first.
Beautifully tailored, high quality women's clothing with a preppy-chic vibe is is what you'll find at this Noe Valley gem. And if you're getting on the normcore bandwagon, this place has everything you need to stand out from the crowd. Wait...

Curator

Copy Link
The Curator clothing line is designed and produced in San Francisco by two best friends. The Curator store both stocks the line, as well as other locally-made gifts and home goods. This wee shop is a delightful place to discover things you never knew you would want. Image via

Susan of San Francisco

Copy Link
Susan is as much a gallery of fashion as it is a store. This is the place where you'll discover international designers before they become the next big thing. It's by no means cheap, but the textiles and craftsmanship justify the price tags on these collectible pieces.

Luna Boutique

Copy Link
This Presidio Heights charmer is owned and run by Christina Spaulding, a former architect and designer whose background shines through the clothing and accessories she chooses in her boutique. You'll find brands including A.L.C., Mother Denim, White and Warren and lots more from uber-casual tees to going-out dresses.

Seedstore

Copy Link
The perfect mix of independent and established brands in the Inner Richmond. Men's and women's classic but modern clothing. via

Mollusk Surf Shop

Copy Link
Whether or not you're a surfer, this Outer Sunset surf shop slash art gallery has something for everyone, from surf boards and skateboards to super cute sweats.

General Store

Copy Link
Men, women, and children are all covered here, plus you'll find rare magazines and great books. Lots of goods from local craftspeeps, and don't forget to check out the sunny (really!) backyard.

Goorin Bros. Hat Shop

Hats are all the rage, and this homegrown company has been keeping San Franciscans covered for almost 120 years. While the company has four locations in SF, the North Beach shop is the flagship.

La Boutique: L'Art et La Mode

The best place in the city to channel your inner French girl. They carry Freda Salvador shoes, Shourouk jewelry, and throw an amazing party.

Eden & Eden

This Jackson Square shop carries unique housewares, vintage clothing, jewelry and other items you won't find anyplace else.

Legion

Former fashion writer Sydney Pfaff opened this Chinatown style spot last year. You'll find Dream Collective jewelry, Baggu bags, as well as clothing brands Rachel Rose, Theonne, and lots more to covet. Image via