The futuristic-looking container store in the background is menswear label Aether's slick retail space. (Photography by Janie Cai)

Hayes Valley: A haven for foodies, shoppers + bon vivants


Once a seedy area rife with crime and prostitution, Hayes Valley has transformed into a top spot in San Francisco to while away an afternoon sipping craft beer and hunting limited-edition designer tops.

The dramatic transition was initially triggered by 1989's Loma Prieta earthquake, which tumbled part of the Central Highway that ran directly through the neighborhood. Since local residents persistently (and successfully) rallied against the rebuilding of the highway, the area has had a chance to evolve. Almost two decades of steady regeneration have turned Hayes Valley into a haven for shoppers and bon vivants, a place where you can pick up a unique piece for your wardrobe or indulge in delectable, internationally inspired cuisine. Use our cheat sheet to guide you through your next sojourn in the 'hood.

The Best Boutiques in Hayes Valley

Acoté's beautiful sunlit interior features clothing and accessories by the chic French label.

(Janie Cai)

Stylish Threads for Guys and Gals

Francophiles (or anyone who wants to emulate the je ne sais quoi of Parisian style) should head directly to Acoté (597 Hayes St.), a chic boutique that stocks French label Cotelac's younger line for both men and women. Think louche, printed tops paired with slick, tailored trousers and a killer jacket—the perfect outfit for a date night at Jardinière (300 Grove St.) with its modern, French-inspired cuisine. // Rand + Statler (425 Hayes St.) and Azalea (411 Hayes St.) provide a well-curated selection of pieces from an extensive list of brands such as Nudie jeans and Ksubi, with the former stocking more high-end pieces from the likes of Comme des Garçons and Alexander Wang. There's also an in-house Aesop shop for you to stock up on your favorite Aussie bath and body line. // Just off the main street, the same proprietors own Welcome Stranger (460 Gough St.), a menswear-focused store that offers up plenty for the discerning male shopper with an affinity for the outdoors. // Dish Boutique (541 Hayes St.) carries a high-end line of independent designers such as US-made denim label AMO and The Lady & the Sailor. // At Steven Alan (445 Hayes St.), peruse the designer's men's and women's collections in a calm, light-filled interior. // Those who are looking for styles that mix luxe with urban edge can head over to Acrimony (333 Hayes St.) to pick up a stunning Rachel Comey top or even a splashy Yeezy hoodie. // Don't forget neighborhood mainstay MAC (Modern Appealing Clothing) (387 Grove St.), where you can find some slick pieces by Dries Van Noten and Junya Watanabe. // Look for a small staircase to lead you down to Cary Lane (560 Laguna St.). The self-styled "SF's only designer sample outlet" is a large basement space with worthwhile pieces for those who love the thrill of searching out a bargain. // Just off the main street but definitely worth checking out is Gather (541 Octavia St.), which features a lovingly curated collection of handcrafted apparel, homeware and gifts that have been made in the US by local designers and crafters. // But if your style is more lounge than lunge then the laid back but luxe direction of the clothes and homeware at Reliquary (544 Hayes St.) might be right up your alley. Their personally selected vintage pieces, which they sell under their in-house label showcase a thoughtful eye for timeless design and effortless style. // Don't forget to swing by the newly opened Clare V (344 Linden St.) to browse through the delightful bags and accessories in the label's first-ever SF space. Pick up a new summer-worthy tote or a too-cute-for-school polka-dot pom pom tassel.

Basics, Performance Gear + Kids

Convert (556 Hayes St.) and Alternative Apparel (424 Hayes St.) sell everyday basics that are produced from organic cotton and manufactured in a sustainably. // Amour Vert (437 Hayes St.) is our go-to for style-savvy originals that champion a zero-waste philosophy. // LA-based label Industry of All Nations (528 Hayes St.) is the latest to open on Hayes, and focuses on small-batch collections that are developed in collaboration with local communities around the world. Check out their natural Alpaca knitwear made in Bolivia, which is dyed using natural pigments for a subtle variation of 16 natural shades. // Marine Layer (498 Hayes St.) is where you can stock up on T-shirts made from their uniquely soft fabric (it contains recycled beechwood). // Fans of handcrafted, individual pieces should check out Cotton Sheep (572 Hayes St.), which stocks hard-to-find Japanese brands such as Kapital and Fith (super stylish kids clothes imbued with a Japanese aesthetic). We spotted a shipment of covetable Visvim sneakers when we visited, alongside exquisite, hand-dyed indigo scarves and dresses. // Those who desire high-performance apparel however, should check into Triple Aught Design (551 Hayes St.) which stocks rugged outdoor attire made from innovative technical fabrics (the kind of shop Bear Grylls would dig). // Hit up the hip metal container store Aether (489 Hayes St.), which sells technical menswear that seamlessly combines form with function. // If you're shopping for your little one, be sure to drop into Kira Kids (542 Laguna St.), a gem of a shop that sells super-cute children's clothing.

Click through for more shopping, plus where to eat and drink in the neighborhood.

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