Photo: Editrrix

Neighborhood: Cobble Hill
Type of Place: Women's Clothing Vintage/Eclectic

Mongo is a magical boutique of unusual designer goods, outsider art, artful and gift-worthy vintage and recycled items, and anything else that delights the expansive imaginations of Brooklyn-based design team Tom and Julie Diller. What began in 2007 as a small clothing shop to showcase their ohm clothing line, a collection of minimalist yet billowy separates, has blossomed into one of the most unique shopping destinations in New York City.

Just walking inside Mongo’s moody blue interior is akin to stepping inside a box by artist Joseph Cornell; coincidentally, it’s arranged in a sort of three-dimensional collage, a changing and dreamy landscape of useful items made from excess American detritus like old locks and hardware, glass bottles, and industrial-strength fabric and canvas, such as discarded billboard advertising. The fact that much of the inventory at Mango is repurposed is no accident: the Dillers are also committed to sustainability and preserving the environment.

Light shines through the antique colored glass lining the rear wall. Old vinyl records and street signs take on a second life as impressive light fixtures and furniture. Despite Mongo's small size, you could easily spend more than an hour there pouring over the objects, each one increasingly clever, trying to make a decision about what treasure to take home. Part of the reason the store so closely holds your attention is because the shopping experience there is also participatory, with myriad curios, cabinets, and drawers surrounding you beckoning to be opened. When you do, look for costume and handmade jewelry, tiny tchotchkes, and various feminine adornments. In fact, there is more here to stimulate the senses than you could likely appreciate in a single visit, like antique tobacco containers, vintage sunglasses, and one-of-a-kind works of art.

We love Mongo’s selection of vegetable-dyed men’s and women’s shoes by CYDWOQ, its handbags made from recycled rice bags, and its selection of unique clothing—velvety coats, sexy, flirty skirts, and embroidered jackets—and belts made from inner tubes. Whether you come by Mongo to shop for yourself or for a gift, you’ll adore the variety of choices and the stories the goods inspire. If there was ever a collector inside you just waiting for inspiration, you’ll find it here and more.

Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, Noon–7PM, Sunday Noon–6PM
  - Joann Jovinelly

246 Smith Street
(Douglas and Degraw)
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(917) 671-7696