Seattle's Indie-Chic Style
Published: April 2009
By Shane Mitchell
Want to capture the city’s signature indie look?In two up–and–coming neighborhoods, these boutiques will help you tap into Seattle’s creative counter culture.
Set on the edge of Lake Washington, Madrona feels like a small town, complete with historic buildings, green plazas, and a quaint business district. But not everything here is old-fashioned: independent designers are setting up shop behind the traditional brick façades, injecting the area with a fresh sensibility. One of the most exciting designers in the area is Lee Rhodes, who has a cult following for her handblown votives, which double as drinking glasses or bud vases and come in a crayon-box range of shades. They are on display at Glassybaby, a 5,700-square-foot boutique-slash-studio where visitors can watch the elegant vessels being made. Rhodes, who is a cancer survivor, also produces a Goodwill line; proceeds support local and national organizations.
On the main shopping drag, Hitchcock sells semiprecious jewelry, vintage housewares, and Midcentury art pieces. Don’t miss the avant-garde necklaces, made from vintage pearls and silk ribbons, and chandelier pieces by Subversive Jewelry. The space’s theme changes quarterly; this month is preppy-inspired, with madras curtains, Astroturf covering the floor, and tennis rackets lining an entire wall.
Seattle pooches have their own upscale turf at Fetch Pet Grocery, where owners can spoil their best friends with organic biscuits, cashmere sweaters, and Swarovski crystal–studded collars.
One block down, Jaywalk is a tiny spot crammed with curios—mosaic wall hangings, stone sculptures—that are produced locally by working artists or imaginative moonlighters (e.g., a psychiatrist who knits socks). Our favorite find: Sarah Woodson’s understated glazed ceramic rice bowls.
It’s known more for its Scandinavian flavor and fishing-village past than for its shopping possibilities, but a crop of openings is putting a several-block stretch of this neighborhood on trendsetters’ maps. The curiosity shop Souvenir is the brainchild of artist Curtis Steiner, whose 1,000 Blocks project (a thousand painted wooden blocks that can be arranged to form different patterns) is in the Seattle Art Museum’s permanent collection. The store is almost like an art project: Steiner’s handmade greeting cards line the entire back wall; found objects, collages, and clever tableaux are all tucked into display cabinets that serve as miniature installations. Collectors of obscure treasures will love Steiner’s early 19th-century French rose-cut garnet and gold choker and Asian textiles.
Owner Tes de Luna deals in colorful dresses, silk-screened tops, hand-sewn bags, and letterpress stationery at her girlie boutique Velouria. Most labels hail from the Northwest: the best include Portland-based Elizabeth Dye, a line of 60’s-inspired mod dresses, and de Luna’s own brand, the flirty Zuzupop.
Dave Voorhees is crazy about vinyl, and he stocks more than 650,000 titles at Bop Street Records, a throwback temple to undigitized music. The emphasis is on jazz, blues, soul, and funk, so those hunting for Jimi Hendrix or Curtis Mayfield rarities will be in luck.
The nearly year-old concept store Pulp Lab functions more like a gallery than a retail outlet: proprietress Kate Pawlicki commissions limited-edition items from a group of witty pop brands (one-off hand-stitched handbags by Brooklyn-based Chris Habana) and hosts exhibitions to introduce them to the public. This fall, Project Runway alum Sweet P, along with visual artist Sage Vaughn, will debut a capsule collection of dresses and accessories; Pawlicki, who also has her own production company, is overseeing the creation of a short film to complement the line.