Old urban centers in the United States are filled with small shops that do business for decades without ever giving the storefront a makeover. These places are easily recognized by faded signage gasping for impact under rotted paint and accidentally retro typography. The Lower East Side of New York, despite the upscale onslaught of gentrification, is home to hundreds of decaying storefronts behind which operate retailers and wholesalers selling fabrics, luggage and leather goods or shops that specialize in a single type of garment, as is the case with Lolita Bras on Orchard St. Not only does the shop have an authentic and worn sign with a happy-camper 1950’s serif font, but it’s also got that curious name. As the name implies, the retail specialty is brassieres. What’s more, “Lolita” is the title of Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial and sexually charged novel, as well as the name of one of its characters. Lolita here, however, is also an old local reference. It denotes “Lower Little Italy” (“Lo-Li-Ita”), a section of the LES once considered part of Little Italy.
Ivan Corsa Photo