Friday, September 26, 2008

Shopping in Asheville, NC

Two weekends ago, EJ and I wisked ourselves away from the hustle and bustle of Colatown and spent the weekend in the mountain oasis that is Asheville, North Carolina. This Burlington/Boulder-eque town is THE mountain retreat of the area.

There's no need for me to give you in-depth descriptions about the sights and eats that can be experienced, because the NYTimes does such a great job with its Travel section feature, 36 Hours in Asheville (yes, we ate at Table and it was awesome. So is Tupelo Honey and Salsas). But I would like to - surprise! - highlight the shopping to be done there.

If you have serious cash to burn there are a number of galleries where original, local art can be purchased. My favorite exhibits were at Blue Spiral 1 which is right across the street from Mast General Store (a store which gets a lot of press, but is rather touristy IMHO). There are also a lot of jewelry shops with a style of jewelry that I only know how to describe as mountainy. It's not hippie, because it's not cheap, but it's very arty.

The clothing shops, in general, are indeed hippie. Chunky sweaters, lots of embroidery, and funky cloth handbags. But when you're in the mountains, people, you embrace your inner hippie. Paul Taylor makes custom sandals and belts. Here's a shot of its window display - and yes, EJ was contemplating a belt.

On the outside, Tops for Shoes looks like a place your parents would shop for shoes (even the website looks like something your parents designed - dang, am I beating up on your parents or what?). But a gander on the inside reveals brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs and Pink Studio. In fact, the Tops Outlet section is the business! There are a couple pairs I spied that I am kicking myself for not purchasing, but that's what the next trip is for. Anyway, I was saving my duckets for a store that we finally found on Sunday - Moda.

Moda is located in Gerber Village, a 15-minute drive away from downtown Asheville. If you're driving away from the downtown area on Biltmore Avenue, it's a shopping center that's just off Hendersonville Road after the turn-off to Biltmore Estate (Biltmore Avenue basically becomes Hendersonville Road).

Moda is owned by a mother and daughter so the photos near the register are of fashionable family members. Lauren is the daughter whom we met when we went in. They carry fabulous, different looks that satisfy both people in their 20s/30s and those in their 40s/50s. It was nice to see that diversity - from all the stores in Asheville, really. Coming from a college town, the general theme of the stores here is decidedly 20s. The reason I was so hell-bent on getting to this store was because it was listed on the jeweler Emily Amey's website as a retailer of the line. Jewelry is one of those things that is tricky to buy online. Indeed Moda had a whole bunch of Emily Amey jewelry; I got the ring in the photo below, but there were actually a lot of cool pieces by a bunch of other designers to choose from as well. Other brands carried included Coclico shoes and Lilla P tops. Lauren's mother worked in retail for a number of years and you can tell with the pieces they sell. The moral of this story? Fashion can be found in Asheville, you just need to investigate slightly off of the beaten path.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Franchise Vintage

Wow, I'm not sure how I feel about this concept: a franchise of vintage clothing stores! Over Labor Day weekend, KH and I went to Greenville for the day because I had heard some good things. While it's no Charleston, it does have a Whole Foods...and a Clothing Wearhouse. Interestingly, this store is actually a franchise of vintage clothing stores. You can learn all about it on the website. What's more, you can buy vintage clothing from the business wholesale. It's genius, really, but leaves me wondering where all this vintage clothing is coming from?

As I'm sure you can guess, I bought two dresses at The Clothing Wearhouse in Greenville. I mentioned how thrilled I was about this store in my previous post. Now that I know it's a franchise, I guess it makes sense. Every dress in the store was on a hanger with a see-through plastic garment cover over the dress. There was a display inside that featured male and female mannequins all dude-ed up with styles labeled "50s," "60s," "70s" - you get the picture. It was all just pure genius! Hm, I suppose I just answered my question of how I feel about this concept. Hey, if I'm willing to shop at BR, JCrew, H&M, Zara (the list goes on), then why not this place?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back in the Summer of '08

In the immortal words of Gracie Peanut, "Lordy, lordy, lordy, lordy!" August was a long old month indeed. I drove up and back to upstate New York, then two days later I flew out to Northern CA to hang with the O'Malleys and work a trade show, then it was back to Colatown for the first Slow Food Columbia event, then KH came to visit for Labor Day weekend and then I started a full-time job last week.

A shopping/things I acquired this Summer redux:

I grabbed a bunch of furniture in NY. This china cabinet was something I believe my parents bought. Not an heirloom, but cool nonetheless.

In Northern California, I spent the entire time in awe of everything in the region - food, culture, lifestyle, etc. Here are my fave people in the BAY Area:

And here is one of my fave purchases from Los Altos. Yes, these are jelly-esque...I prefer to call them the anti-croc (or should I say, anti-croque?). These are from 151 Boutique.

Oh sweet Melissa - "plastic dreams" just sounds so magical.

By the way, my apologies for these fuzzy photos, but that's my PDA for you. Ok so onto my shopping extravaganza with KH. We rocked it out with day trips to Gaffney (outlets), G'ville (GREAT vintage clothing shop there - more on that TK) and Chucktown. Of course we hit the King Street strip in Charleston, and K had an exceptionally successful trip in Hampden Clothing, per use. My piece de resistance was this killah rubber necklace from my favorite, B'Zar.

And now it's back to the ol' 9-to-5. Feels great to be able to talk with people throughout the day!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hos before Bros

First there was the "wife-beater" shirt, which is a term that I loathe. I love me the tank top, but I really despise that name.

Then last night I saw an ad in latest hard copy issue of Blue Ridge Mountains Outdoors promoting some sort of Subaru called the bromobile or something like that. I will report more correctly on that later, but the use of the term "bro" seems to be seeping into everything these days.

And now finally, the piece de resistance -- the "Cougarette" skirt from Diane von Furstenberg. Argh! Here's the photo of it. Cute, I guess. And I suppose it is some sort of take-back of the phrase, but come on.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Victoria Keen sample sale

Hey all my NYC ladies! Apparently Victoria Keen had a sample sale and I just got an email that she's extending it due to the recent Labor Day weekend. Get over there and buy some groovy yoga pants. Do it now! And be really Zen about it!