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The QG is expanding to Hunt Valley. And it’s not stopping there.
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One of Baltimore’s grandest residences is getting a $10 million renovation.
Freddie Gray’s saga exposed the fact that Baltimore’s aging housing stock can be a source of lead poisoning for children. Recently, the Baltimore City Health Department found that chain stores could also pose risks.
As anyone who has worked in women’s clothing will attest, retail is a tough business. To run a successful boutique for a few years is an admirable feat, but to thrive for 40 years, well, that’s nothing short of remarkable.
Tomorrow marks the fortieth anniversary of Baltimore high-end women’s clothing boutique Ruth Shaw. The store opened in 1973 by namesake Ruth Shaw, a former tennis clothing designer and renowned local fashionista before it was even a word! She sold the boutique in 2008 to her long-time manager and buyer Ray Mitchener, who has run the store with the same commitment to quality merchandise, the latest trends, top designers and more, features that have made the store a Baltimore institution.
The upscale boutique will celebrate “Forty Fabulous Years of Fashion” Saturday night with cocktails at its Cross Keys location and 100 close friends, supporters and, of course, the 85-year-old original owner Ruth Shaw.
We caught up with current owner Ray Mitchener, who has played a huge role in establishing the store’s brand while helping to run the business for the last 35 years (he was a model for Versace, Ralph Lauren and others before). He is known and respected in the fashion industry and the store’s national reputation — it has been recognized as a fashion leader by Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Lucky — has earned Ray access to the best and hottest European and American designers, and in the store, it shows!
He gave us a few insights into the secrets of his success…
You have kept a high-end designer business alive for 40 years in Baltimore, which is not a high-end designer town. What is your secret?
I think the real reason we have enjoyed such longevity is that we constantly change and evolve with our clients, listening to their wishes and demands and nurturing our relationships with them.
I am forever seeking the “next and now” in fashion and trying to bring it to Baltimore, keeping in mind that it has to be wearable and somewhat practical. I think the keys of staying in business for over forty years is staying relevant.
It is my greatest joy to help a woman discover more about herself through clothing.
Why did you decide to buy the boutique?
I bought the store in 2008 because, working with Ruth for so many years, it was a natural succession. I love what I do. I want to continue the legacy of Ruth Shaw.
What has changed about retail since you started working in it years ago?
The changes that have made the biggest impact on the fashion industry from my perspective are the accessibility of clothing through internet shopping, the fact that designers are accessible to the masses via product lines for Target, Kohls, Uniqlo, and others. Lastly, our relaxed dress codes have changed fashion, too.
Courtesy Bmore Media – Waverly is best known as a place to buy fresh raspberries and yellow corn Saturday mornings.
But Main Street Hats Owner Clyde Davis-El reminds us that it’s also a neighborhood where customers come as far away as upstate New York and Atlanta to buy fedoras and Panamas. Davis-El is just one of the neighborhood’s business owners who are counting on leaders to revitalize the neighborhood so it is known as a place to shop and dine, and not just the 32nd St. Farmers Market.
Red carpet affairs, weddings, and prom nights always seem to bring to bring up the same perennial gripe: women have endless options for expressing themselves sartorially, while men must operate within a very narrow spectrum of fashion choices. A man who forgoes the plain navy suit in favor of a navy suit with (gasp!) nearly invisible pinstripes is seen as making a bold statement. Yikes.
Enter, MINTLEN, a fresh new menswear brand that debuted its first collection recently during Fashion’s Night Out. MINTLEN’s designers are clearly pushing the envelope in offering men genuinely interesting clothing options. T-shirts come printed with provocative slogans such as “Luxury Kills” and “Cold Style Cruel Taste.” The “cut + sew” line features button-down shirts with asymmetrical detail work. The designs exhibit the attitude that making bold fashion statements can indeed be fun, cool, and manly all at the same time. The brand is based in New York — although the chief marketing director, Chris Warren, was featured in Sartorial Baltimoreal and is from Baltimore — but available here at South Moon Under in Harbor East, where Warren served as men’s department manager.
South Moon Under is located at 801 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore, MD.