Shopplr’s favorite boutiques in San Francisco

San Francisco isn’t a fashion capital in the way that Paris and New York are (or even LA). SF style is laid-back, which means most people don’t care what they look like when they leave their houses. As a result, most serious fashion designers leave town and head for New York or Paris. But there are a few who stay and do quite well. In addition to independent designers, there are the luxury brands such as Hermes that have a store in the city. I suspect many of these luxury shops sell a lot to tourists.

The best shopping for men’s clothing in San Francisco is in Hayes Valley, a neighborhood next to the Civic Center / City Hall and of course, the Castro. For women’s clothes, it’s all over the place: Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights, Valencia and 16th  Streets in the Mission, downtown Union Square, and Union Street in Cow Hollow.

San Francisco shops do the rugged urban look very well. Locals love European brands like G-Star Raw and Diesel, and US designers such as Marc Jacobs. This is not the city for sophisticated Italian look, but I am partial to it, so I go anyway to the Max Mara store in downtown SF.  Unfortunately the locals’ lack of interest in what they wear means shoe shopping is a catastrophe in this city. The Gucci and Prada stores in San Francisco do not carry a collection that even comes near what their Milan, Rome and Paris stores have on offer. This is a jeans-and-sneakers kind of town.

Azalea: Women’s and men’s clothing store in Hayes Valley; carries APC, James Perse, Toki-Doki’s quirky t-shirts, designer jeans from Acne (a trendy Swedish brand), and many others; excellent nail spa for manicures and pedicures.

411 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
+1 415 861 9888

Nomads: just down the street from Azalea, this shop carries G-Star Raw and other men’s clothing brands for guys who want to look sporty but still chic.

556 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102
+1 415 864 5692

MAC / Modern Appeal Clothing: also in Hayes Valley is one of the few boutiques in Northern California that carries an astounding selection of clothing from young Belgian, Japanese and French designers. The men’s and women’s clothes are stunning and the service is impeccable.

387 Grove Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
+1 415 863 3011

Rickshaw Bagworks: Looking for a cool messenger bag that’s made locally in San Francisco and inspired by the urban cycling culture? Check out Rickshaw Bagworks. They have messenger bags of varying sizes and colors with efficiently divided pockets and slots, perfect for gadget freaks.

Rickshaw Bagworks
904 22nd Street,
San Francisco, CA 94107
+1 415 904 8368

Max Mara: Luxurious, elegant and understated, Max Mara is the place where women go to find the most exquisite coats, jackets and dresses. This Italian company does not believe in adorning their customers’ bodies with vulgar logos, so all their efforts go into impeccable tailoring and fabric. Their Sportmax and ‘S Max Mara lines are my favorites: younger, sportier and more fashion-forward. Service is outstanding. Max Mara is best known for its coats, but everything else is just as impressive.

175 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94108
+1 415 981 0900

Sun Hee Moon: local San Francisco designer who makes urban “classic” womenswear such as A-line skirts and dresses that are sporty and girly at the same time (for the modern Audrey Hepburn, according to their website).  She has three locations in San Francisco. My favorite is store on 16th Street in the MIssion.

3167 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
+1 415 355 1800

Marc by Marc Jacobs: the less expensive women’s and men’s clothing line of American designer Marc Jacobs (who also designs for Louis Vuitton) is all about urban chic. His specialty: gorgeous quirky dresses that make you stand out in a crowd, adorable coats, and the best fitting cotton twill trousers for men and women.

2142 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
+1 415 447 9322

Hlaska: chic laptop bags for people who don’t want to look like geeks.

2033 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA
+1 415 440 1999

Villains and Villains Vault: one of the best places in SF to get casual, sporty menswear (and womenswear). They carry G-Star Raw, Diesel and the major jeans brands such as 7 for all Mankind. Large selection of jackets and hoodies.

1672 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
+1 415 626 5939

Villains Vault
1653 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
+1 415 864 7727

Rolo: Located in the Castro, the only neighborhood in San Francisco where you find guys who really care about their looks, Rolo carries a terrific selection of gorgeous sweaters, jackets, coats, jeans, shirts – everything for the stylish man.

2351 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
+1 415 431 4545

Bloomingdales: if you must go to a department store, go to Bloomingdales in the Westfield Shopping Centre, downtown SF. Since it opened only recently, it’s modern, light and airy. It is conveniently located above the Powell Street BART and Muni underground stations. Bloomingdales has the best beauty department in San Francisco. Space NK, my favorite London beauty shop, just opened a small space selling their best products (e.g. Eve Lom’s skincare).

Westfield San Francisco Centre
845 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
+1 415 856 5300

About Esme Vos

Esme Vos is the founder of Shopplr, a site on fashion, beauty and design. Esme is the founder of (travel guides and hotel reviews) and MuniWireless (WiFi networks).