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Hot Right Now: Kai’ea, where you’ll find your new favorite summer outfit

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This article was created in partnership with Kai’ea boutique.

Kai’ea is a new boutique in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City that makes shopping fun again — seriously.

While many in-person shopping experiences have changed over the years and become impersonal, Kai’ea is a new store that’s here to create a direct connection with its guests, and make shopping a truly fun event — thankfully, Kai’ea is here to save the day just in time to help upgrade your summer wardrobe.

Located at 259 West 19th Street in Manhattan, Kai’ea offers a variety of high-end but accessible fashion and lifestyle wares. Robyn and Grimes play on the speakers when you walk in. As you browse through the best new clothing collections from Project Claude, Frolic + Detour, and other designers, you’ll be handed a glass of champagne and if you’d like, get a guided tour of the store from one of Kai’ea’s knowledgable associates.

Although the store has a product assortment that any gay man will love – from clothing to jewelry to accessories to underwear to swimwear – Kai’ea’s bread and butter is chic resort wear and swimwear. Didn’t I tell you it’s perfect for summer?

When I first visited Kai’ea, I had my eyes on a Frolic + Detour rainbow snake shirt that I saw in the window display. I was shopping alone, and Kai’ea owner Derian and Chief Lifestyle Coordinator Christopher made me feel like I had two new best friends as I looked around the store and began picking out pieces to try on. If you’re shopping solo, don’t worry about needing to send pictures to your friend group chat, the team at Kai’ea will help you pick what works best for your style and goals. The team authentically learns about what you’re looking for, and helps pair the right clothing and accessories to match your need.

Kai’ea has a variety of new clothing selections from brands including Project Claude, Rick Majors, Mounderwear, and Yuasa swimwear. Lifestyle accessories like candles, hats, clutches, skincare, necklaces, jewelry, and Double Scorpio poppers. Athleisure that can help level up your gym game beyond the boring basics.

I asked Christopher James, Chief Lifestyle Coordinator at Kai’ea, about some of his favorite products in-store right now. He shared, “Project Claude is somebody that we love to work with. It really encompasses the community with an intricate design, but also with the artistic vision behind it. [Additionally] Sammy Swim, who is a Miami-based designer, who we work very closely with, had his first pop-up event here with us.”

The clothing at Kai’ea is versatile, which is imperative during summer when you’re likely to bounce from a late afternoon meeting to happy hour to dinner outdoors.

I connect most with Kai’ea because I truly see it as an undiscovered gem for many queer New Yorkers who are looking for a new gay-owned shopping experience that’s an escape from today’s standard mass marketing shopping. There are no other spots where you can listen to your favorite gay bar music on the speakers, relax on the outdoor patio and have a glass of bubbly, and have a true private-like shopping experience with your friends, all while guaranteed to be treated well by a fun and friendly team.

I asked Kai’ea owner Derian Nasca how he dreamt up the boutique, and what it means to him: “Kai’ea means “rising tides” in Hawaiian. My mom was born and raised there. Kai’ea is a really great representation of rising above the struggles that our community faces on a daily basis, and providing an outlet, and an experience, and a place for our community to go to where they feel welcome, safe, embraced. Kai’ea is where everyone can go to be themselves, express themselves, and find something that will help them accomplish that.”

New York City Councilperson Erik Bottcher recently cut the ribbon at Kai’ea, welcoming the new business to the neighborhood and giving a strong stamp of approval to the gay-owned boutique that increases economic development in the neighborhood.

Kai’ea’s recently relaunched site can give you a sense of the brand’s curation and selection, but we do recommend visiting the store in-person for the true 360-appearance.

Kai’ea is situated comfortable within steps of Chelsea gay institutions like Elmo, Cafeteria, Rebar, and Hotel Chelsea, plus chic cocktail bars like Jungle Bird. We recommend stopping by on a Thursday or Friday afternoon or evening to get a new piece or two for your weekend wardrobe, or even stop by before dinner or drinks in Chelsea, as they’re open until 8:00PM Thursdays through Sundays.

Kai’ea is the best of New York City – a new, gay-owned business with a distinct point of view that we should all be proud to support. Plus, the boutique will help get you your new favorite summer outfit. Check out Kai’ea this weekend, and tell the team So.Gay sent you!

You can visit Kai’ea (and tell them So.Gay sent you!) at 259 West 19th Street, New York, New York 10011

Kai’ea’s hours of operation are: Thursday through Sunday, 11:00AM – 8:00PM

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