A few years ago the Lower East Side of Manhattan seemed destined to go the way of every other up-and-coming New York neighborhood. First a micro coffee brewer opens shop, and then Marc Jacobs comes knocking—giving mass-market retailers the green light to pounce with 10,000-square-foot megastores. Fortunately, that never happened. Tenements that housed immigrants at the beginning of the last century still stand, as do bargain outlets along Orchard Street. The hipster sneaker stores are still going strong, but now there's a new crop of sophisticated boutiques geared toward adults (the successful, downtown kind). You may not recognize the labels—many of these stores carry collections found only in Paris, Berlin, and Tokyo—but you'll instantly recognize the style.