A boutique, from the French word for "shop," is a small shopping outlet, especially one that specializes in elite and fashionable items such as clothing and jewelery.
The term entered into everyday English use in the late 1960s when, for a brief period, London, UK was the centre of the fashion trade. Carnaby Street and the Kings Road were the focus of much media attention as home to the most fashionable boutiques of the era.
In the strictest sense of the word, boutiques would be one-of-a-kind but more generally speaking, some chains can be referred to as boutiques if they specialize in particularly stylish offerings (such as New York City boutique shoe store Alife Rivington Club).
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