I had the pleasure of taking a trip up to San Francisco this past weekend for a meeting and was able to spend the weekend checking out some of my old favorite neighborhoods around town. While shopping in Hayes Valley, I stumbled upon a new and interesting boutique called RELIQUARY that just opened a few weeks ago. The owner, Leah Bershad, was a designer at Old Navy before she decided to take the plunge and open up this special shop.
The word “Reliquary” refers to a container of relics, which is a great identity for what she has set up in her “curiosity” store. The boutique has a heavy Native American/Southwestern theme from her days of growing up in New Mexico. She has collected vintage items and clothing from all over the world to tell her story including a global selection of textiles hailing from America, Mexico, Japan, Peru and India, vintage French workwear, Navajo rugs, embroidered dresses from Afghanistan, Victorian-era gold jewelry, a collection of World War II Zippo lighters and more.
The boutique is very much influenced by Folk Art as Leah is a big fan of things that are handmade or handcrafted. We’ve been calling out this trend in the industry for awhile with a focus being placed on more unique and handcrafted items. The Fall runways saw a lot of this trend with Folk Art influenced designers such as Proenza Schouler leading the way. The Navajo and Wild West were also a big trend on the Fall runways with DSquared and many other designers taking from the past to make the future. FOLK ART is more of a movement than a trend and Leah’s shop proves that it’s here to stay for awhile.
In addition to the vintage selection, she also carries denim from North Carolina based Raleigh denim, Ernest Sewn, t-shirts from L.A.’s Kain, basics from American Vintage, French knitwear from Majestic Instead, and deconstructed apparel by L.A. -based Hazel Brown. In the fall she will be adding the recent CFDA winner, Billy Reid to her growing collection.
The shop is decorated with a mixture of finds from Paris, Vienna, and London and the Brimfield, Massachusetts antique show, which only happens three times a year. Reliquary carries scores of woven blankets from all different countries (her favorite being the zarape style Mexican saltillos) which are stacked in her back wall for added color and texture along with apothecary items and wild flowers.
Leah collects Victorian jewelry, Native American turquoise, WWII-era Zippo lighters and Southwestern beaded jewelry which are all on display in her awe-inspiring jewelry cases.
The boutique also stocks Clare Vivier leather goods, London’s Jas MB handbags and Epice handmade scarves.
What I love most about the aesthetic of the shop is all the color mixed with the Southwestern influence and the raw wood. Leah is obviously a person with a great sense of detail and that is shown in every corner of the shop
She has a great collection of Vintage and I picked out a few of my favorite pieces to show you:
I totally freaked when I saw this hand woven shirt. It was made by an artist from Creative Growth in Oakland which works with adults with developmental problems. I thought the pattern was beautiful and the idea of open weaving on a woven shirt seems somewhat genius. Reminded me of original Folk Art and embroidery that was part of the Arts and Crafts movement in San Francisco in the 1970′s. If you have never read or seen the book “Native Funk and Flash“, it is a must read for anyone in the design or fashion industry as its reference is extremely important in a design sensibility.
With lots to look at and much to take inspiration from, I’d definitely recommend a stop in the store next time you are in town. I think we might start to see more of this idea in retail around the country and I look forward to seeing how the store does.