Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Philly is home to a vibrant community of makers. From those little known outside of Philadelphia to brands stocked in some of our favorite boutiques nationally, the list below is just a sample of what the city has to offer.
Look out for these six names while you’re shopping through Philadelphia’s best boutiques, and don’t be shy about pulling the trigger on the purchase if you come across something you really love; many of these labels are hard (if not actually impossible) to find anywhere else.
The artful suits, scarves, and shirts produced by Ikiré Jones are striking for the brand’s strong aesthetic POV, which is as inspired by traditional western menswear as it is by West African colors and patterns. “I wanted to basically do something that would fuse my heritage with my love for European silhouettes and tailoring,” explained creative director and former attorney Walé Oyéjidé, who grew up in Nigeria.
Made with African-inspired textile patterns and reworked images of Renaissance art, each collection strives to tell a distinct story, like migration and displacement to an alternate future for West Africa.
While the brand is still small — it’s just Walé and his partner Sam Hubler, a tailor with a background in bespoke suiting — people have taken notice (there are pieces displayed in museums like the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain). Currently, the duo is primarily stocked in Japanese and European boutiques; if you’re interested in making a purchase stateside, contact Walé to send your measurements or to set up a fitting in their Philly studio.
Where to buy: Call (267) 607-9188 to make an appointment; shop online at ikirejones.com.
Philly is home to a number of talented jewelry brands, but Angela Monaco’s Concrete Polish is a standout. From silver earrings made to look like crystal formations to cocktail rings shaped like fox heads and chokers that look like family heirlooms, her sculptural works are easy to fall in love with.
But one of the best things about her line is the incredible range: Earrings start at an accessible $45 pricing, while custom pieces average around $1,500 to $3,500 but can go up as high as $38,000, depending on the materials.
Monaco, who studied various fine arts in addition to jewelry design, works out of a small studio in the back of her Northern Liberties retail shop Ritual Ritual (which also stocks vintage clothing, like-minded jewelry brands, and locally-made apparel). After Monaco designs her pieces, they are brought to life by local manufacturers and casters using sustainably sourced materials.
Riverside’s founder and designer Kate Leeman started out tie-dyeing as a hobby five years ago, experimenting with Japanese shibori in her bathtub. While it’s a still a one-woman operation, Leeman has grown her side project into a well-respected business with pieces stocked in some of Philadelphia’s best boutiques. (She’s also been tapped for private-label denim projects with Urban Outfitters — her full line is also carried there— and wool dyeing for Woolrich.)
The intricate, multi-step dying processes developed by Leeman (which she applies to raw silk, cotton, wool, denim, and bamboo fibers) can take up to four days for a single piece with multiple colors. The finished products take the form of scarves, tunics, caftans, kimonos, duvet covers, and a host of other items; though some of the coolest pieces start out as vintage, like jeans, military jackets, and slip dresses.
This fall, look out for her collab with local boutique Vagabond that uses Riverside’s textiles to patch vintage Levi’s.
Walter and Margaux Kent’s six-year-old business gives discarded objects new life as durable homewares and accessories. Each piece incorporates a re-used element, like reclaimed wood, antique fabric, or leather found at flea markets.
Take, for instance, the handsome waxed canvas bags. These satchels, totes, and pouches are painstakingly handcrafted using leather recycled from antique WWII gun slings (Margaux says they’ve tried using horse reins, but weren’t able get the barn smell out).
The family company also makes a wide range of smaller home goods, from stools to table wares and other accessories, such as jewelry made from recycled metals and engraved with botanical illustrations. Look for Peg & Awl at various stores around town, or set up a studio visit to see the whole range by appointment.
Bela Shehu has gained quite the loyal following in Philadelphia and beyond. Working out of her Rittenhouse atelier, the fashion designer makes avant-garde clothing and jewelry with a strong sense of mood. Many of her pieces can be worn multiple ways — for example, a one-shoulder dress might double as fancy basketball shorts and triple as a draped skirt — and all of them feel like collector’s items.
Her latest collection includes jackets that are on-trend while totally unique at the same time, like a bomber with men’s shirting details and sleeves that zip off (shown above), as well as a kimono-esque wrap jacket that can be worn three different ways.
Where to buy: Make an appointment at Ninobrand’s atelier, 333 S 20th St.
Why shouldn’t your broom be beautiful enough to hang on the wall? Lostine founder Robert True Ogden treats home goods and other would-be pedestrian items (ladders, scissors, kitchen tools) as art objects you can use in your everyday life.
While prices for the thriving company’s gorgeous wooden furniture are a bit aspirational, small homewares like cutting boards — which are designed in collaboration with Tyler Hays, founder of another covetable PA-based furniture company, BDDW — are a nice entry point; the inlaid leather straps on these babies mean that if you want to, you actually can hang them on the wall.
Read more about vintage, local brands, and a shopping tour of Queen Village in our Ultimate Guide to Shopping in Philly.