I had read about them. Savored their Snap. But I’d never been! Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction was my first stop on the small but stellar retail strip that is North 3rd Street (between Race and Market Streets in Old City, Philadelphia).
Conceived by the progressive ad company Quaker City Mercantile, Art in the Age taps into the concept of new luxury, “driven by a strong sense of origin and personal narrative.” Quality, craftsmanship, intellectual rigor – you know the drill. Art in the Age has all the cool and authentic charm of a leading artisanal NYC boutique…but without the ego.
The staff was congenial, the Root was flowing, the merch – a revelation. Having reviewed retail for the past several years, it is a delight to discover brands with a real sense of story. The shop carries Le Labo candles and Mast Brothers Chocolate (natch), but the following goods piqued my interest in particular:
- MCMC Fragrances: Loving these scents. Maui, Garden, Noble, Main – all sublime. In the same vein as D.S. & Durga. Art in the Age sells the 10ml organic oil roll-ons – perfect for travel. After much deliberation, I settled on Hunter: “With tobacco absolute, organic Bourbon vanilla and fir balsam, this fragrance is best if worn with a flannel shirt.”
- Beekman 1802: handmade, chemical-free body and home products – straight from the Beekman Farm and Sharon Springs. Their original goat milk soaps are big, beautiful hunks of pure butterfat goat milk mixed with seasonal cleansing ingredients.
- Sort of Coal: purifying white charcoal products. The Kuro Cube, for example, purifies and refreshes the refrigerator naturally without the use of chemicals. The Kishu Binchotan is a Japanese White charcoal branch for purifying water. I need one of these! NYC tap water from my faucet has a lead taint – and this is a superior and natural alternative to Brita.
- Billykirk: gorgeous pastoral-style leather goods – bags, belts, card cases, wallets and so forth. Art in the Age had a few natural tan leather belts, but I was loving the White Nautical Woven one. And the No. 95 Shoulder Satchel. Both pictured in the gallery at left.
- Roseanna: under-the-radar French label making beautiful 100% cashmere sweaters and cardigans. I was smitten with the yellow Chief Cardigan with a deep V-neck front and black gross-grain lining.
There are also heaps of chic flirty separates by Lauren Moffatt, Robinhood hats by by Harvey Faircloth, the Hill-side flannel pocket squares, sturdy jackets by Penfield, delicate cardis from Le Mont St. Michel, rugged Yuketen boots for dudes and a host of goods made in-house by Art in the Age, including quilts, artist-collaborative tees, stationary, soaps, art and beyond. In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and fast fashion, it’s always nice to see the ol’ pendulum swinging back toward substance, story and the human touch.