I just adore Artists & Fleas in New York. If you’re the kind of person who likes to rummage amongst vintage shoes, try on oversized sunglasses from the 70s and find retro dresses alongside new art and artisan jewellery, this is the place for you.
You’ll find Artists and Fleas in two locations in New York. There’s one in the trendy Chelsea Market in the Meat Packing District and there’s another in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on 70 North 7th Street.
The latter is great if you are tying in a visit to all of Williamsburg’s trendy bars, cafes and the epic food market otherwise known as Smorgasburg (which I’ll be writing more about soon). This one’s also a cool location because it’s just a few hundred yards away from the waterfront and ferry port which means a) You can jump on the ferry if you don’t fancy the underground and b) you can enjoy some sublime views over the water of Manhattan.
I’ve been to this market during two visits to New York and it seems to have just consumed me each time. By that, I mean, I intend to be out within say, an hour. But I find myself getting lost in all its amazing trinkets and gifts and then making one or two visits back because the lure of a piece of art or beautiful beauty product has somehow taken over me, escorted me to the cash machine and then caused me to have an out of body experience where I’m handing over money because I just HAVE to have a certain something. So you’ve been warned, this place is dangerous.
Jokes aside, it really is a treasure trove of lovely things and a fascinating collection of old items that must have some fascinating stories behind them. The arts and crafts stands at Artists and Fleas also reflect just how much creativity there is in New York. It really blows you away when you see the cool and clever inventions these creative people come up with.
Some of my favourite stalls are the ones who craft clocks and iPad docking stations out of old classic books. I think there are a few who do this but we bought one from sellers calling themselves Love Hue Studios when we visited. They make great Christmas presents.
The jewellery stalls are amazing. This is where you’ll find newly handmade trinkets, rings and necklaces as well as old and revived classic pieces. I found a particularly intriguing stall at the Chelsea branch of Market Artists and Fleas which was selling so many gold bracelets – all with a very beautiful art deco-esque geometric design. Similarly, they had some amazing bejewelled necklaces that carried a very distance 30s-style. Pricey but one of those pieces you’ll keep forever.
Then you’l find jewellery stands which are just covered in brooches, necklaces and earrings from all sorts of eras. The fun is in the conversations you have with the vendor about where they all come from and who might have worn them. It makes for quite an exciting buying experience.
From jewellery, you go to all sorts of American football-style bombers, leather jackets, oversized fur coats, delicate lace evening dresses and many, many pairs of cowboy boots and unusual shoes.
There are some particularly interesting vintage clothes at Artists and Fleas in Brooklyn. I found some authentic Mexican ponchos, teeny tiny leather baby shoes and some amazing leather jackets. Sadly, as I tried to take a photo, the vendor stopped me. Damnit. But trust me, it was a corner of fascinating wares.
On to the vintage sunglasses by Brooklyn Optics. This is where you can easily while away 20 or 30 minutes in fits of giggles as you try and find the biggest / wackiest / weirdest styles. Check out the Brooklyn Optics site here.
Oh, and there’s a lot of fur lurking around. A bit creepy I know.
A new discovery for me was a collection of prints by an artist called Kevin Marcell. I was immediately drawn to the innovative way they print bright pastel images of New York trains, streets and city landmarks on top of an outdated NYC bike or city map. Simple but genius (and totally hipster, yes). This style of city art will no doubt be reaching a Shoreditch pop-up near you any time soon.
What’s also great about these is that because they’re maps, you don’t need to worry about keeping them flat or rolling them up in a tube to survive the flight home. So yes, I did make a guilty sprint to the cash machine to buy one. I couldn’t help myself.
You can read about Kevin Marcell’s maps here
While at Artists and Fleas, Brooklyn, I had the pleasure of meeting Susan of self-named cosmetic brand Naturally Susan’s. I was completely lured in by the exotic smell of little pots of lemongrass balm. As it’s made from a high concentration of natural oils and plant extracts, you only need to use a tiny bit and the smell was completely intoxicating, transporting me back to a spa holiday in Malaysia. Susan was lovely to chat to and I would highly recommend her products. You can check out her website here.
Before we left I dropped into the ladies and apologies for posting a picture of a toilet on here, but you just have to when it looks like this:
Inside you’ll find all sorts of messages from people who have visited Artists and Fleas and I found myself causing a queue outside because I was fixated by all the messages from people around the world.
Similarly the atlas placed by this area allows visitors to pin where they have come from.
I left my mark with a little mention of Oh So London.
Even though I had to leave my favourite city behind, it felt good that I could leave a little bit of Oh So London behind in New York.
Even if it was on a toilet wall.
Until next time x
Artists and Fleas, NYC
70 North 7th Street, Williamsburg
88 10th Avenue @ West 15th Street, Manhattan
There’s also one in LA ever 3rd weekend! 647 Mateo Street DTLA