Detroit is known for unique fashions — from our affinity for alligator shoes to Aretha Franklin’s taste in furs. The Motor City is a soulful city and soul is found in fashion. Shopping in Detroit is a journey you have to take while you’re here.
Modified: July 17, 2020
There are no major shopping malls in Detroit proper. Instead, locals opt to shop small and purchase clothing and home goods from independent retailers who are purveyors of original items that stand out in a crowd.
Here are a few of our local favorites from four popular shopping districts in Detroit. Visit any of these (and their neighboring) retailers and you are sure to shop like a Detroiter.
The Historic Avenue of Fashion has been known as a destination for jazz, fashion and beauty options in the heart of Northwest Detroit since the 1950s. For decades, the Avenue has been home to thriving, minority-owned, independent businesses.
Sitting on the edge of the beautiful Sherwood Forest and University District neighborhoods, the Avenue of Fashion is a part of Livernois-McNichols Corridor plan from the City of Detroit. More than 400 vacant structures are being converted to usable space and support is being provided for the improvement of public spaces including art scapes and bike lanes. Retail on the Avenue of Fashion is on the rise as new stores and cafes are opening along the popular thoroughfare.
Monday – Saturday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.
Detroiters love to wear the city on their back. City branded clothing is extremely popular among us and stores like Pure Detroit, Made in Detroit, and Detroit vs Everybody have plenty of it for sale. Three Thirteen is one of the more exciting brands that offers a number of independent fashion creators under one roof.
Simplycasual Clothing Store
Monday and Tuesday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Owner Rufus Bartell is one of the most vocal and active retailers in Detroit. Not only is his store a staple of this community, but it has persisted even through the economic ups and downs of the neighborhood. Shop at Simplycasual to find something that you will not find at any larger department store.
Table No. 2
Monday – Saturday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 4 p.m.
What is a shopping excursion without a good meal? A new upscale restaurant has opened on the Avenue — it features a fine dining experience with delightful menu options like grilled oysters rockefeller and Lake Michigan walleye. Chef/owner Omar Mitchel has been a presence in Detroit for years running restaurants, he also competed on the popular Food Network show, Chopped. Stop by Table No. 2 after shopping for a relaxing meal and a cocktail.
Photos courtesy of Pexels and Simplycasual Clothing Store.
For many years, Cass Corridor was one of the most challenged neighborhoods in Detroit. The proximity to downtown, however, made the area prime for redevelopment in the last decade.
The Cass/Canfield area, in the heart of Midtown, is now a hub of entertainment, shopping, and dining. The area is home to a few stores who are Detroit staples where uniqueness paired with thoughtfulness and creativity is paramount.
Tuesday – Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Funky and eclectic is the theme at Flo. Beautiful and signature styles in fashion and accessories hang from every rack. If you see something cool at Flo, get it, because it is very unlikely that the item will be restocked again. Visit Flo to add a pop of flavor to your wardrobe.
These neighboring sister stores are some of the best places in the city to buy one-of-a-kind Detroit gifts. City Bird has fun items like Great Lakes temporary tattoos, as well as tons of other creative items many of which were created by local artists.
Nest is primarily stocked with beautiful and original household items like a brass plant mister as well as candles, vintage map posters and more. The store is a great place to shop to style out your eclectic crib.
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These stores are right by each other on Canfield, and you must stop there if you are in the area. Shinola is a watch and bicycle company with products made right in Detroit. The store on Canfield is their flagship store, and there’s also a coffee shop inside. And Third Man Records is owned by Detroit-native Jack White. It’s a record store, record pressing plant and live music venue.
Finish your trip to this district with dinner at Shangri-La, one of the area’s most popular restaurants serving authentic Cantonese cuisine in a nod to the neighborhood’s Chinese history.
Just north of Midtown, the New Center, evolved into a district featuring mostly multi-family housing units and businesses because of its proximity to the downtown area as well as the cities of Hamtramck and Highland Park which were both home to auto factories. The area is rapidly being redeveloped and by the end of 2020, there will be over 2000 more residential housing units added to the neighborhood which means a lot more local shoppers. The New Center area is home to dozens of stores that are mostly independently owned.
Monday – Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Visit this store to experience the oldest family-owned retail business in Detroit. Opened since 1893, Dittrich Furs is one of the most recognizable brands in the city and one of the premier fur retailers in the country. The historical knowledge of the Dittrich family on this history of the fur industry in Detroit, as well as how to select and care for furs makes a trip to this store a fascinating experience.
The Shops in the Fisher Building
The Fisher Building is one of the most iconic landmarks in Detroit. One of the tallest buildings in Midtown, its large green tip is visible from various parts of the city. The Fisher Building is home to The Fisher Theatre the destination for live plays in the city and also features a number of distinct shops that cater to an eclectic audience.
Visit Pure Detroit for Detroit gift items. Vera Jane features original women’s fashion, accessories, and more. It is hailed as a hidden gem. Workshop is a modern furniture store that features beautiful furniture that is created from lumber reclaimed from Detroit’s vacant and abandoned building stock. Every piece in the store is handmade and stamped with the street address of the original home where the materials were reclaimed. And The Peacock Room is a women’s clothing boutique that will take you back in time to a more sophisticated era of shopping.
End your trip to New Center Area with dinner at Cuisine. Chef/owner Paul Grosz brought his French culinary training to this upscale dining experience with delicious cuisine and exquisite desserts.
Photos courtesy of City Bird, Nest and Pure Detroit.
This beautiful retail space is named in honor of Thomas Parker, one of the first African-American landowners in the city of Detroit.
Now a specially-curated retail space, Parker’s Alley has so much to offer and the diverse ownership of the area which includes several minority and/or women-owned businesses is a true testament to the history of the name to which it is dedicated.
The Lip Bar
Monday – Saturday: 11a.m to 8 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Since her appearance on Shark Tank, owner Melissa Butler has epitomized making the best out of a bad situation. Her beauty brand was utterly disregarded by the show’s investors, and despite that she has gone on to become one of its most successful participants. The Lip Bar has made inclusivity their focus and changing beauty standards their passion. With unique lip colors and now expanding into blushes and bronzers, The Lip Bar is quickly becoming Detroit’s most exciting beauty brand.
Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.
A woman-owned business that sells merchandise primarily made by women is a revelation. Part jewelry store and part flower shop, Posie Atelier carries fine jewelry, ceramics, candles, stationery and more. Their floral services range from small custom orders to large weddings.
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Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Owner Carli Goltowski was born and raised in Michigan and wanted to create what she calls a “slow” fashion experience in the city she loves. At Good Neighbor, browsing is an art and by featuring beautiful brands that also share her values of mindful sourcing and ethical manufacturing the shopping experience is also a feel-good experience. Good Neighbor has clothing, sleepwear, and accessories for both men and women and even a few home goods items.
Round out your shopping experience at Parker’s Alley with a beer from The Brakeman and a bucket of chicken from Penny Red’s.
Photo courtesy of Shinola.