16 New York City-based startups that are changing the way we shop for clothes

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Depending on your level of exposure to the most populous city in the US, New York City conjures a variety of associations: a major hub for finance and media, the stage where theatre and fine dining comes to blossom (or die), or simply that one nightmarish place people cram into on New Year's Eve to see a shiny ball drop.

New York City is all these things, but you also can't forget its place as a fashion capital. The city is every shopper's paradise, with fashionable people and stylish shops on every block. Luxury fashion brands and legacy department stores line Fifth Avenue, while quaint boutiques thrive in SoHo - but it's a new crowd of fashion disruptors that's making some of the most memorable debuts in the NYC clothing world.

These clothing and accessories startups were founded and based in New York, where the city's influence - its cramped quarters, culture of aesthetes who are never caught in a bad outfit, and busy, fast-paced rhythm - has clearly permeated into their business models and products.

These 16 startups, while influenced by NYC, are also challenging its fashion traditions by not overcharging for things and trading in excess for simplicity and sustainability. New York City will always be a place for fashion - the following retail startups just approach it in a different way.

Learn more about the 16 New York City-based clothing startups that are changing the fashion industry:

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Bonobos

Bonobos
Shop clothing at Bonobos here: Bonobos, Nordstrom

Launched officially in 2007, menswear brand Bonobos is one of the earliest examples of the potential of direct-to-consumer selling. Beginning with pants that are neither boxy nor tight (which were sold out of the founders' cars at one point), it now sells a full array of men's clothing, from vacationwear and casual tees to black tie suits. Bonobos continues to be a hit among shoppers because of its superior fit, fun prints, and reasonable price point.

Warby Parker

Warby Parker
Shop glasses at Warby Parker here

New York is home to another early D2C wunderkind, Warby Parker. It makes stylish designer-quality eyeglasses and sunglasses for an affordable price, and you can try out your favorite five styles for free at home before you make your final decision. In partnership with nonprofits like VisionSpring, Warby Parker distributes a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair sold.

Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway
Rent clothing at Rent the Runway here

In a city filled with well-dressed people, it's easy to feel the pressure to stay on top of trends and never repeat an outfit. Rent the Runway gives you an infinitely rotating closet of designer clothing that you can wear for special occasions, everyday life, and anything in between, without the commitment. For consistent refreshes, it offers two different membership plans, starting at $89 per month, or you can rent out singular pieces whenever you need them.

Tommy John

Tommy John
Shop underwear and basics at Tommy John here: Tommy John, Nordstrom

New Yorkers are used to overpaying for things, but can you really justify paying $20 to $30 for a single pair of underwear? For Tommy John's smooth, soft, and incredibly comfortable underwear, yes, you certainly should. Its men's and women's underwear are the best we've ever worn: breathable, resistant to bunching, rolling, and riding up, and just as durable after the 50th wash as after the first.

Rebag

Rebag
Shop and sell bags at Rebag here

If you love pairing your outfits with a new pieces of arm candy, but are steadily draining your wallet in the process of buying these luxury handbags, you'll want to shop at Rebag. Here, you'll find authentic, second-hand designer bags for less, and you can also sell back the ones you don't love anymore. With its Infinity program, you can buy a bag from its site, wear it for up to six months, then exchange it for credit (at least 70% of its purchase price) to put towards your next bag.

Bombfell

Bombfell
Start a personal styling subscription at Bombfell here

When the founders of Bombfell found themselves living the NYC post-grad life with outdated wardrobes, they set out to create a better way to shop for clothing. Bombfell combines algorithms and the personal touch of human stylists to deliver a box of clothing choices you'll love. As Insider Picks reporter Amir points out in his review, it's especially great for detail-oriented guys who are particular about their style.

MM.LaFleur

MM.LaFleur
Shop clothing at MM.LaFleur here

You don't want to waste time in the morning sifting through a closet of "just okay" professional wardrobe staples like dresses, blazers, and pants. Every style from women's clothing brand MM.LaFleur is a hit that you know will be stylish and comfortable, leaving more room in your head to attack the work day with zeal. Don't know where to start? Try the Bento Box, a collection of hand-selected brand favorites.

Lively

Lively
Shop bras and swimwear at Lively here: Lively, Nordstrom

If you don't want to spend more than $35 for a good bra, look no further than Lively, which was founded by a Victoria's Secret alum. It can be hard to feel confident in your skin if your bra is uncomfortable, but Lively nails the comfort factor (even for much-maligned strapless bras) without sacrificing style. We also love its stylish and functional swimwear.

AUrate

AUrate
Shop jewelry at AUrate here

Fine jewelry startup AUrate is one of many making dainty, sustainable, and beautiful jewelry a little more accessible. The materials for its pieces — gold, diamonds, and pearls — are sourced ethically and all the pieces are made right in New York City. Its engraved styles make great gifts, while the Curate home try-on box lets you see the pieces for yourself. You can also visit its retail shops in Williamsburg and the Upper East Side.

Dagne Dover

Dagne Dover
Shop bags at Dagne Dover here: Dagne Dover, Nordstrom

We see the neoprene backpacks from this startup on our morning commutes all the time. Dagne Dover handles all your bag needs, from work tote and laptop bag to travel or gym bag with the same poise and sophistication you hope to approach your busy schedule with. We're continually impressed not only by the distinctive styles but also by their smart interior-compartment organization.

State Bags

State Bags
Shop bags at State Bags here

This bag company founded in 2013 doesn't just make cool backpacks for the sake of doing so. With each purchase, it donates a backpack filled with school supplies to a student in need. The founders created the brand after seeing kids carrying their things in ripped trash bags to their prior venture, a non-profit summer camp. Now, they help you carry your essentials in sleek leather, canvas, and nylon styles while supporting underprivileged kids and raising conversations around social issues.

Greats

Greats
Shop sneakers at Greats here

Another brand proud to be born in Brooklyn is Greats, a luxury sneaker company selling a simple selection of men's and women's styles for just $99 or $179. But whether you wear them in a bustling metropolis like New York City or your sleepy hometown suburb, you'll attract nothing less than compliments. The classic sneakers look and feel great because they're made from premium leather (both inside and out) by meticulous crafters in Italy.

Universal Standard

Universal Standard
Shop clothing at Universal Standard here

When Universal Standard first launched in 2015, it brought contemporary essentials to women sizes 10 through 28. Since then, it has followed through on its mission of making fashion for all women by launching collections of clothing for sizes 00 through 40. Universal Standard's revolutionary approach to size-inclusive fashion starts at the design and wear-testing level, which helps ensure that every piece fits a size 34 as well as it does a size 4.

ADAY

ADAY
Shop clothing at ADAY here

With its timeless and versatile pieces, ADAY eschews the seasonal cycles followed by traditional fashion, opting instead for beautiful essentials made from long-lasting, technical fabrics and sustainable materials like recycled plastic. It's hard to pigeonhole its clothing into one category, but based on our experience with its comfortable yet sleek pieces, we call it our favorite athleisure startup.

Basic Outfitters

Basic Outfitters
Shop underwear and basics at Basic Outfitters here

Basics like undershirts, boxers, and socks are probably the least exciting clothing items to shop for. They're simultaneously the most important to get right since they form the foundational layer of your outfits. Inspired by the founders' move to NYC and their subsequent realization that poor-quality basics were taking up valuable space, Basic Outfitters makes it quick, easy, and affordable to refresh your entire drawer with great basics.

Koio

Koio
Shop sneakers at Koio here

These luxury sneakers are made in the same factories as high-end brands like Chanel and Hermes, but cost a more palatable $180 to $370 per pair. You can shop low tops, high tops, and chunky sneakers that are functional (comfortable, supportive, and easy to clean) and eye-catching (buttery soft leather, hand-painted edges, a variety of color options).

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