The State Street Shuffle: If you’re a sucker for up-to-the-minute trendy duds that’ll cost you less than a tank of gas and may even last you a bit longer, take a seat, for I have big news: knock-off supershop Forever 21 is coming to town and will take over the huge corner space located at 901 State Street as of February 1, 2009. If that address has you quaking in your vintage-inspired, possibly-a-tad-overpriced-but-totally-worth-it boots, fear not-this does not spell the end for current resident Anthropologie. The temple to girliedom will relocate to 1129 State Street. In other news of the musical chairs variety: InSoul has moved again; find it in Paseo Nuevo Mall, next to Nordstrom and the Game Stop; and ANGL is moving out of Paseo Nuevo and into 732 State Street. Confused? Perhaps a shopping reconnaissance mission is in order, you know, to reclaim your bearings.
Hard Times, Big Sales: The times being what they are (may my 401K rest in peace), shopping has gone from necessity to a (very, very) guilty pleasure. This particular brand of guilt, however, has an antidote, and it’s a four-letter word. S-A-L-E. And with a little strategic inventory shuffling, DIANI has opted to transform DIANI Essentials (1324 State St.) into a one-stop sale shop, which houses marked-down items from all three DIANI stores (DIANI, DIANI Shoes, and DIANI Essentials), and includes goods from designers such as Chloe, See by Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Goldsign, Kale, and Hanii Y, all discounted between 30 and 75 percent. Check it out, and remember: you’re not spending money, you’re saving it.
On Philanthropic Footing: Lucy Hamlin of Lucia loves Luigi (502 Brinkerhoff Ave.) is excited about a new line of sandals, and not just because the hand-beaded flats are as simple as they are stylish. Called Global Girls, the sandals, which use recycled car tires for the soles, are made by African women with AIDS trying to support themselves and their children. And the women receive all of the proceeds. If that isn’t a great excuse to pick up a new pair of shoes, I don’t know what is.
Spotlight On: Ada Handbags
In 2003, when Ada Komorniczak, fresh out of UCSB with a degree in Spanish Literature and Law & Society, moved to Buenos Aires, she planned to teach English. But life had other plans. “I fell in love with the country, a man, and the leather,” she said. Komorniczak threw caution to the wind and changed gears, deciding that designing bags built around that famed leather was what she was going to do. She hasn’t looked back since. Komorniczak returned to the States with several samples, hosting purse parties and trunk shows, and treating the whole endeavor as one big, stylish case study. “That’s where my legal background came in handy!” she said. Once she got a handle on what Americans are looking for-namely, big bags with exterior pockets-she headed back to Argentina, and began sketching, keeping the designs minimal in order to let that supple leather absorb the spotlight, while managing to avoid sacrificing style, functionality, or versatility, as in the Macchiato Messenger bag, which can be converted to a sleek little clutch by removing the strap. Her line is more than 100 bags strong, and carried in no less than 200 boutiques nationwide, including Socorro in Santa Barbara, Lana Marme in Montecito, and Julia Rose in Ojai. And as for the guy, reader, she married him. For info, check out adahandbags.com.
If August’s 1st Thursday (Aug. 7) finds you gallery-hoppin’ d-town, make sure to stop by Bryan Lee (802 State St.), where owner Jen Smithwick has quite the extravaganza in store. Designer Elise Smith will be showing off her and partner Milagros Berrios’ Mi.eL Pink Label togs, winemaker Christian Garvin will be pouring his Oreana wines, and Mel and Billy of Billygirl cosmetics and Salon U will be offering free makeup applications. The event, which will get started around 6 p.m., will serve as kickoff for a weekend-long, storewide sale. A new outfit, a new look, and a buzz-that’s what I call a party. : If all that partying has you hankering for a trip down memory lane in the form of a sojourn to I.V., stop by Miss Behavin (6551 Trigo Rd.) for a sweet summer deal: now through August, swimsuits from labels including Maya Swimwear, Birdie Jo, and Salt are on sale; buy a suit and a Spindrift beach pillow and score a pair of vintage shades for free. Then, you know, stop by Dej Vu for a Natty Light or something.
Check Out: Lovebird
Lovebird (7 E. De la Guerra St.), jewelry designer Jennifer Scarborough’s two-month old boutique and jewelry bar, is a find in the truest, most fabulous sense of the word. Here are three reasons no downtown shopping expedition will ever be complete without popping inside:
1) The clothes: More to the point, the prices of said clothes! Prepare to be wooed by the amazing selection of pretty, easy-wearing duds, and then prepare to be shocked by how low the prices are. The shop focuses on smallish lines like Hourglass Lily, Lush, Magazine, and Reaction, keeping prices firmly in the realm of the affordable. And ensuring they stay there is part of Scarborough’s vision.
2) The location: Tucked just off State Street near De la Guerra Plaza, Lovebird is right in the center of town. It’s where the mall is, but it’s not in the mall, which makes it pretty much perfect.
3) The local touches: Erika Carter’s art studs the walls, duds from Bella Note line the racks, Scarborough’s two jewelry lines, Zia and J Scarborough, adorn the shelves, and Bazil Essentials body products keep it smelling sweet. And oh yeah. They have crushcakes.