When Julep–a well-stocked consignment shop in Georgetown–closed its doors in the spring of 2010, I was thoroughly disappointed. I had been peddling my clothes there (with great success) for months, an arrangement that had come to be handy in my bi-monthly “closet-cleaning” practice, not to mention useful in funding the purchase of new and exciting wardrobe additions. You can imagine my delight when I learned that the same space (1525 Wisconsin Ave, N.W.) had been purchased by Sara Mokhtari, a real estate developer seeking to launch a consignment boutique of her own. When Tari DC opened its shutters in late November, I made it my business to set up an appointment to consign some of the items that had been gathering dust in my apartment and quickly realized that this shop was entirely different from your run-of-the-mill second-hand store.
For starters, the ambitious and charming Mokhtari had totally renovated the interior with dark paint, exposed brick, dramatic sconces, and an enorma-TV on the wall. The space now appears vaguely European, much more attractively appointed, and altogether the way I would imagine a consignment shop owned and operated by the Kardashian sisters. (Meant as a compliment.) Then there’s the merchandise, which caters less to Julep’s former target audience (Georgetown’s young professionals and college/graduate student population) and more to frequenters of higher-end outposts. (Think Christian Louboutin and vintage fur rather than last season’s J. Crew and Shoshanna.)
Though the boutique is still working out some kinks (the day I arrived, Mokhtari alluded to some wild pricing inconsistencies due to the differing estimation philosophies of her employees–and meanwhile set her friend to work moving the wall sconces closer together), it promises to be a great new addition to the District’s second-hand clothing circuit, especially because it bridges the gap between uber-posh Inga’s Once Is Not Enough (4830 MacArthur Blvd, NW) and sells-nearly-anything Mustard Seed (7349 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD). Gems abound at Tari, although the merchandise is not yet displayed particularly well; as I thumbed through a stack of Hermes-esque scarves tucked into a silver urn, Mokhtari candidly noted, “I don’t know how to display those yet, but I’ll figure it out.” (Gotta love that honest, go-get-’em attitude.) On my first visit, I drooled over a label-less but of-the-moment pocketbook a la Celine 2010, a vintage YSL leopard print scarf, and some pristine, scuff-less Ferragamo pumps. The pricing was wonky–a handsome houndstooth sport coat from an upscale men’s shop was a mere $25 (yes, they carry menswear, too), but the YSL scarf rang in at close to $300. And the owner is a self-professed newcomer to the fashion industry, which meant that when I handed over my bag o’ goodies, she was unfamiliar with labels many would consider readily recognizable, including James Jeans, Tibi, and Milly. (She does, however, have a keen eye for fit and style, instantly gravitating towards a sharp-looking gray blazer I’d decided to sell. And she’s intimately familiar with the high-end, listing Givenchy, Christian Lacroix, and Proenza Schouler among her favorite designers.)
As if the prospect of all that vintage loot isn’t enough excitement for a fashion lover like myself, Mokhtari shared some exciting plans she’s been cooking up for her boutique: she intends to continue to build back, expanding the sales floor so that it opens up through French windows onto a 700-foot courtyard out back. She’s designing the space so that it’s outfitted to host fashion events, including runway shows. Um. Yes. Love this idea, and am dying to see what comes of it. (If nothing else, a better venue for next year’s DC Fashion Night Out runway show?) All in all, Mokhtari’s attitude might be just what our historically unfashionable (though evolving) District needs. As she put it: “I think [D.C. fashion] is changing but I think we have a long way to go…the diverse culture in this city contributes a tremendous amount of fashion-forward influence.” Here, here.