Century 21 is back, baby! The discount store — known for its deals on designer clothing, shoes, and accessories — reopened its flagship store in New York City on May 16 to much fanfare (and lines that snaked around the block).
A fixture of Lower Manhattan, Century 21 filed for bankruptcy in September 2020 due to losses precipitated by the pandemic, which wrecked havoc on brick-and-mortar retailers. Subsequently, the company shuttered its 13 locations across the United States including its NYC flagship, a particularly iconic storefront situated on Cortlandt Street, right across from the World Trade Center.
For many New Yorkers, the downtown outpost symbolizes the city's strength and resilience. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, it was unclear whether the location would reopen — its exterior and interior were significantly damaged by the collapse of the Twin Towers. But its owners and employees fought to renovate the building, which eventually reopened in February 2002.
When the store closed again in 2020, shoppers were devastated. But Century 21 — founded by the Gindi family in 1961 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn — doesn't give up easily. Its second reopening proved, once more, the retailer's resilience.
Of course, Highsnobiety had to stop by and take stock of the designer deals to be found at the recently reestablished location. Keep reading for everything we found, from Bottega Veneta shoes to vintage Gucci bags.
Athleisure comprised the bulk of designer menswear. There were lots of Valentino logo tees, along with hoodies by Dior and CELINE. A particularly gaudy Moschino shirt was printed with the Italian flag emblazoned with "I DON'T SPEAK ITALIAN BUT I DO SPEAK MOSCHINO (we later found a matching jacket in the womenswear section).
The highlight of the menswear floor was a small rack of Off-White™ wares, mainly comprised of T-shirts, hoodies, and outerwear. We also came across a few Dior monogrammed windbreakers, priced at around $1,500.
There was a much wider selection of designer womenswear than menswear. Christopher Kane eveningwear and outerwear mingled alongside Stella McCartney knits and graphic tees by Versace Jeans Couture.
There were also racks upon racks of Moschino, including gilded dresses, poofy gowns, and casual separates. Love Moschino, the brand's diffusion line, occupied a similarly large portion of the women's designer section. We also discovered a small selection of GANNI dresses and tops, most notably an adorable blouse printed with cats.
While womenswear trumped menswear, the stock wasn't as expansive or exciting as it was pre-2020. Last time I visited the store, I sifted through pieces by Alaia and Alexander McQueen, Vetements and Sies Marjan. This time around, I was disappointed by the limited number of labels available.
We found the best accessories in the vintage bags section, a new category for Century 21. Sourced by Two Authenticators, stock included Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Dior. We also found a Loewe puzzle bag in a particularly appealing shade of fuchsia.
Outside of these pre-owned finds, pickings were slim — though if you're in the market for a Mansur Gavriel bucket bag, there were plenty of those.
The women's shoe section is undoubtably the highlight of the store. We found tons of Bottega Veneta (pricing hovered around $800, though some styles were more affordable), along with JW Anderson chain sandals and Bumper mules (a relatively recent style). There was also plenty of Proenza Schouler — heels, sandals, and loafers were available in a range of sizes.
Men's footwear was limited. Highlights included reflective Heron Preston boots, Suicoke sandals, and Balmain's range of B-Bold sneakers.