Isa, a boutique that mixes high-end vintage with asymmetrical skirts and a salesclerk who doubles as the store’s D.J., is one of the coolest things in Williamsburg. But forget being the coolest thing in a borough like Brooklyn. Entrepreneurs want to go to the epicenter of hip, the core of it all, not to mention the money.
So perhaps not surprisingly, Isa’s three-month-old outpost, called Nom de Guerre, is tucked away in a basement on Broadway at Bleecker Street. Its owners have taken their Williamsburg style and created a marketing concept with a tinge of Brooklyn sass; as a result, although the store is below street level and without signs or advertising, it still attracts a word-of-mouth following.
”We were in the middle of nowhere in Williamsburg, and now we’re underground in Manhattan,” said Holly Harnsongkram, an owner. ”This is indy fashion.”
For as long as anyone can remember, and at least since the early 90’s, coolness radiated from Manhattan outward. But in the past year or so, the hipness of Williamsburg has begun creeping back the other way. At least half a dozen boutique and restaurant owners have concluded that they need a branch in Manhattan — preferably Lower Manhattan — to increase their reach.