In Soul
Jen Villa

Au Courant:

Design by Mi.eL Pink Label at Bryan Lee.

Bryan Lee Is in the Pink: Local designer Elise Smith is thrilled to announce that her line, Mi.eL Pink Label (, has (finally!) been picked up by a local shop-and on State Street, no less. Stop by Bryan Lee (802 State St.) to check out Mi.eL’s spring/summer ’08 collection, which includes every warm weather fabulous thing from basic halters to sundresses to skirts, and the piece de resistance: a sexy silk jersey cocktail dress with beautiful, hand-beaded detail, perfect for those swanky summer Nights. Could this coup signal a return to State Street’s corporate-free days of yore? Let’s hope so.

Jen Villa

Surfin’ (and Skatin’) State: Is it just me, or have State Street surf shops been multiplying at an alarming rate? (Um, the answer is yes, they have been.) Anyway, I was happy to see the arrival of Esteem (907 State St.), a perfect, pseudo-local counterpoint to those corporate stores. In each of its four Central Coast locations, Esteem aims to become “a part of the community”-and it looks like it’s on the right track, as evidenced when a crew of young skaters bounced in, looking for sponsorships. (They also have a small surf team, which includes locals Bobby Morris, Simon Murdoch, and Bo Stanley.) Even if you’re not looking for someone to sport your ride, it’s worth a stop: They have duds for men and women, as well as a huge selection of new and used surf and skateboards-and if you bust a deck, they’ll even help you fix it. How’s that for being neighborly?

Sneakers at In Soul
Jen Villa

Street Chic & Spray Paint: When is a sneaker not just a sneaker? When it comes from In Soul (1 W. Ortega), a monument to wearable art, particularly of the footwear variety. The shop, which recently took over Particle’s former digs and changed its name from Hood Rock Customs, focuses on super-cool, limited-edition and artist-series products, mostly for the menfolk (although they’re growing their ladies’ department). Though the labels might be familiar (kicks from Nike, Adidas, PF Flyer, Puma; tees from Zero Friends, Malcom Bliss), this is decidedly hard-to-find stuff. They make a point of consigning goods from local designers, and the store itself is a product of cutting-edge design: Though the art on the walls is always changing, stop by soon to check out the amazing graffiti-inspired pieces from L.A. superstar Taz Rock.

Jen Villa


I’ll go ahead and say it: I find the recent arrival of Hempwise, smack-dab in the middle of State Street (927 State St.), a wonderfully auspicious development. And, despite its Isla Vista roots (owner Al Espino opened that shop, which is still in business, 12 years ago) and presumably ultra-crunchy ethos, the clean, chic interior is perfectly in keeping with State Street’s increasingly upscale aesthetic. Espino’s redesign of the space was a lengthy labor of love, but the result is nothing short of fabulous: New bamboo floors, environmentally friendly paint, and recycled fixtures that hold the displays are the perfect example of how going green has never been more fashionable. And, lest you assume any togs found in a shop called Hempwise are of the itchy, heavy, Birkenstock-esque variety, well, that hasn’t been the case since Birks were cool. Hemp, bamboo, organic cotton, soy fabrics, even recycled water bottles are becoming increasingly common in clothing, and they’re surprisingly comfy and stylish. Stop in to check out the duds from Livity, Satori Movement, iPath, and local visionary and “nice little shoe company” Simple, and prepare to be pleasantly shocked. There are clothes for men and women, shoes, bags, and goods for the bod, and don’t miss the Low Tide Rising tees, which feature the mind-blowing surf photography of S.B. lensman Branden Aroyan.

Shop this:

Or maybe window-shop this: Tiffany & Co., at La Cumbre Plaza (I guess since the recent upgrades, it’s gone from being a mall to a plaza), is hosting a traveling exhibit, Icons of Tiffany. On display now through July 11, the collection includes some of Tiffany’s most famous creations from designers like Jean Schlumberger, Elsa Peretti, Paloma Picasso, and Frank Gehry. And for those (honest) souls who’ll admit that, yes, size does matter, don’t miss the 72.86-carat emerald-cut aquamarine. : Call me crazy (or a boozehound), but I’ve long wondered why more stores don’t make it policy to greet customers with a cocktail-and apparently, Susan Pitcher & Co. did too. Start your weekend right by stopping by dressed (1253 Coast Village Rd.) for Saturday Socials: Enjoy champagne and artisan chocolates while perusing boldface labels like Versace, Twenty8Twelve by Sienna Miller, Haute Hippy, and The Row by those fabulous coat-hangers/style iconinas the Olsen Twins. I’ll drink to that!

Check Out: Cominichi’s (again)

Cominichi’s at Moms (421 E. Cota St.), Gina Comin’s treasure-filled consignment shop, is a longtime Santa Barbara staple and StylePhile favorite that’s always reinventing itself. If you’ve never been, here are three reasons to check it out-and if you haven’t been lately, here’s the short list of what you’ve been missing:

1) A fresh new crop of vendors means a ton of new-to-you (and me) vintage clothing, jewelry, furniture, and art, and the store’s even begun carrying organic duds from Organic Acorn-including organic undies for the ladies and the gents.

2) Don’t miss items from the estate of beloved local art teacher Jorgen Hansen, cool assemblage pieces from Bonnie Rapkin, and the amazing life-sized Quan Yin statue in the Bali Trading Company’s space. (And while you’re at it, be sure to bang that gong!)

3) Oh great spirit! Should I get this chapeau, or maybe that broach, or should I take that awesome mid-century modern floor lamp instead? If it’s divine guidance you’re after, Cominichi’s has you covered: in addition to the always-fabulous shopping, the store now offers tarot readings and palmistry.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.