The Shopper: From Denim Bar to Fancy-Pants

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The District's premium jeans guru is done with denim.

Why? Because it's everywhere. Designed by everyone.

"The market's so oversaturated, no one cares about jeans anymore," says Mauro Farinelli, the former co-owner of Denim Bar.

So Farinelli, 37, launched a new eponymous boutique chain last fall. Farinelli's, with locations in Reston and Clarendon, carries an equal mix of women's and men's clothes and accessories that draws on its owner's background in tailoring and high-end fashion. And denim lovers, take heart: You'll still find a mix of high-end and midrange pairs from the likes of Kicking Mule Workshop and Crate -- brands Farinelli deems innovative enough to offer his customers.

Farinelli says he feels personally invested in every piece in his store, and takes care to select only items that measure up to his standards. Accordion pleating, delicate buttons and a matching belt elevate an otherwise prim sweater dress from Re:sound into something special. Traffic-cone orange shorts from Splendid Mills, an extension of the Splendid brand of super-soft tees, are lightweight yet crisp, perfect for a Washington summer. And a plaid button-up from Shirt by Shirt gets a stylish step up through small details such as its floral contrasting trim, a flourish courtesy of the brand's 15-step design and production process.

Even the lure of buzzed-about designers and up-and-comers isn't lost on Farinelli, who stocks Vena Cava, Alexander Wang, and Matthew Williamson's Linda Farrow-designed sunglasses line alongside wares from Council of Fashion Designers of America nominee Catherine Holstein and "Project Runway" alum Kara Janx.

"Originally I was known for fashion," says Farinelli, who plans to launch his own line in the fall. "And that's what I want to be known for again."

-- Holly E. Thomas

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