(IN)LARKIN delivers comfort and glamour | Credit: Courtesy

Mary Beth Larkin rises early and chooses her clothes with a finely honed, keen instinct before dashing out of the door. In the car she cruises up Highway 154 towards her fashion boutique, (IN)LARKIN, located in Santa Ynez. As she listens to an audiobook, the one leisure she affords herself, she admires the landscape, thoughts of daring designs and business maneuvers undulating like the ocean waves. “I really do not have balance,” admits the designer. “I do think all my energy goes into my business.” 

Mary Beth Larkin, shown at her store in Santa Ynez, is an inspiration to aspiring designers. | Credit: Courtesy

And it shows. 

Larkin’s seasoned expertise has culminated in her ability to revise classic designs with attention to elegance and comfort. You read that right; with (IN)LARKIN you can have both. “There was a space between activewear and high fashion,” in which Larkin saw an opportunity, an opportunity that was realized in what she calls “Athglamour.” But before we can understand this bold development in the legacy of athleisure, there is more to understand about Mary Beth Larkin’s story.

“I didn’t know how to sew, I didn’t know how to make patterns, and I didn’t know how to drape, but I just had this innate feeling that I wanted to be a fashion designer,” she said.

Larkin’s journey into fashion design began as a creative kid in Connecticut who knew what she wanted. Convincing her parents to let her pursue fashion design in school, Larkin was accepted to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology, fitnyc.edu) where she was “dropped into the real world” of rigor and competition. “It was worth it, but I wouldn’t say it was fun,” she said of her education. Up against experienced graduates of fashion high schools, Larkin elbowed her way to the front and was hired out of college by Armani. As an unpaid intern she worked 12 hour days and weekends too; a schedule that would remain even after being hired on as a staff member. For just under ten years Larkin worked her way through the ranks, learning all the aspects of the fashion business.

“I was working tons of hours and one day I was on the phone with my mom and she was like, ‘Listen, if you’re gonna make millions of dollars for Armani why don’t you do it for yourself!’” Larkin said that FIT did not want students to believe that they could start their own companies; the thought of taking this leap seemed foreign at first, but after much consideration she went for it. In 2005, following the move of her family from the east coast to Santa Barbara, Larkin launched her first company eMBe: a wholesale clothing operation out of Carpinteria with an eye on stylish athleisure. She claims to have always been “a slave to fashion” wearing her four inch Prada boots to work in the Armani days, but comfort grew to be a bigger priority for Larkin in her wardrobe and an inspiration in her designs. “We like to say that we’re redefining comfort and style with everyday casualwear,” a premise embodied in the collections housed at (IN)LARKIN, a venture she launched after quarantine during COVID.

A model sports the Olivia Beauty Bomber, a fresh take on Olivia Newton John’s iconic final look in Grease | Credit: Courtesy

It is evident between the three collections found in-house and online at inlarkin.com that Larkin is committed to merging style and comfort. “Athglamour is the fashionable cousin of athleisure,” which plays out in sleek designs in which I could see myself lounging at home with friends just as easily as I could see myself dining on Lower State. Blending natural and synthetic fabrics, expect these clothes to move with the body unlike the stiff, immobile designs of even the most well known designers. 

Part of Larkin’s business model is based on creating small batches so as to curb her contribution to landfills and to enable the creation of more styles. “I’m only making what I can sell,” she said, a conscientious choice in a world of discarded clothing. Larkin’s designs will last, their simple, classic styles making them endlessly re-interpretable across times of day, seasons, and eras.

After a day of working all over the floor of her store, Mary Beth Larkin puts her audiobook back on and cruises back to Santa Barbara. On her mind is a space in S.B., national expansion, and, of course, new designs. “I think it could be as big as athleisure,” she said — and I believe this tenacious woman. 

(IN)LARKIN, 3568 Sagunto St., Suite D, Santa Ynez, is open Wednesday through Sunday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. inlarkin.com


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