Attention all Audreys, Marilyns, and Jane Russells! Put on your polka dots, rock your victory rolls, and fire up the Ford Fairlanes. It’s time to motor on over to one of my faves, Smak Parlour, in honor of ten awesome years.
Started in 2005 by Abby Kessler and Katie Lubieski, Smak Parlour was originally designed to be an outlet for the ladies’ Smak clothing label. Abby and Katie had studied fashion design and merchandising at Drexel University and after graduation, they brought their unique talents to Old City, Philadelphia. They opened up a shop at 219 Market Street and this year, will mark the store’s ten year anniversary at this historic location.
Over the years, in order to populate the store, Abby and Katie began selling other labels and creations from national, as well as local designers. On any given day, shoppers can find an array of clothing and accessories that are new, but made to reflect a vintage vibe. I told Abby the other day that I remember walking into Smak Parlour in the early 2000’s and seeing her and Katie sewing in the back of the store. “I miss those days,” said Abby. But fear not – these girls have not forgotten their roots. The homage to the Singer Sewing Machine is ubiquitous throughout Smak Parlour. Mixed in with the super cool merchandise, it almost makes me want to light a candle to the great and powerful Singer machine that gave these two Rosie The Riveters their start.
As times changed, this retro inspired venue adopted very millennial forms of selling. One of these forms was the use of the fashion truck. Smak Parlour’s fashion trucks can be spotted at beer gardens, marathons, and festivals of all kinds. I have been inside their fashion trucks and they do not disappoint. Shoppers will find items with the same appeal as those on Market Street, just on wheels.
Currently, Smak Parlour employs four employees. I met two of them on Saturday at the Old City store. Chelsea Goich has been with Smak Parlour for one year and five months and Sierra Carter-Gordon has been at the store for eight months. Both ladies have smiles bright enough to light up the 2nd and Market dollhouse. They gushed when I asked them why they like working for Abby and Katie. “They are awesome!” said Sierra. “They are two of the most driven women I’ve ever met. They are unreal”, she continued. I asked Chelsea why she liked working at Smak Parlour as opposed to one of the mega houses. She simply replied, “Working here feels like a big family. I feel like working here, I’ve gotten more experience than I would have working at a bigger company”. Also, both girls enjoy the opportunity to have a hand in some of the buying decisions. I gotta say, walking through the colorful and stylish “girlie load” of fashion gems, it is obvious they nailed it.
It was important to me to write this article at this moment in time because right now is a very important time for Smak Parlour. Their cut and sew collection, “Prints Just Want to Have Fun”, is on Kickstarter and the ladies have only a few days remaining to reach their desired goal of $15,000. The line is superb and it can be seen in the store and on-line. All items are made in the USA of quality fabric and the collection is on the crowdfunding site in an effort to fulfill a full clothing production run. Chelsea designed some fruit and “Barbie” legs prints and Joe Boruchow, a well known Philadelphia street artist, designed the rose and fan designs. In addition, another local artist, Dave Holley, designed a really cool Liberty Bell- meets-heart print that screams “I must have it”. When you visit Kickstarter.com, you can view the clothing and you can also read the reasons for the launch such as the aforementioned ”getting back to their roots”. My personal favorite on the list of reasons is “Life is too short to wear boring clothes”.
So, c’mon all you budding Pin-Up Girls, fashionistas, and General Pattonistas, let’s buy American and look good while doing it. And if you want to see the collection up close and in person, put on your Mary Janes and make your way over to Merge Arts at Coda on Thursday evening, April 30th. There you will find these one-of-a-kind prints modeled, on the runway, by local models from Wilhelmina. Coda is located at 1712 Walnut Street and tickets are an affordable $15 on-line.
Life is too short to wear boring stuff. A trip to Smak Parlour proves that. So, Barbie, Ken called. He said you can buy whatever you want. It’s time for some fun shopping of USA designs that “smack” of USO dances, 50’s glam, and the place we call home, Philadelphia. Visit Smak Parlour at their 2nd and Market Street location, their fashion trucks, and on-line at smakparlour.com. You can also see the ”Prints Just Want to Have Fun” collection on Kickstarter until Saturday May 2, 2015.