Local Lowdown: Cool Vibes, New Retail

Posted on Jun 30 by SEASONS Magazine

Isla Boutique in the Hotel Californian, courtesy photo.

Isla Boutique in the Hotel Californian, courtesy photo.

By Judy Foreman

Yes, it was a long, cold, sad and soggy winter, which packed a meteorological wallop, but now we are all happy to say hello to longer days and warmer temps that allow us to leave that heaviness behind and rise up and come out into the light.

Support our local stores and look good at the same time by visiting some of our newest retailers. Summer encourages you to slide into cool, slip-on tennies at retro-chic SeaVees Showroom & Guide Bar, or dive into Ambiance’s collection of T-shirts, jean shorts, dresses and open toe slip-on Frye’s with fun tassels. Catch the breeze with cool-to-the-touch cotton dresses and resort wear at Isla, the boutique in the chic new Hotel Californian, or visit Jake & Jones for classic Wranglers, cool sunnies, bathing suits, magenta suede slides, aromatic candles, jean jackets and colorful playsuits. Whatever your summer mood, our newest merchants have got you covered.

Isla Boutique in the Hotel Californian, courtesy photo.

Isla Boutique in the Hotel Californian, courtesy photo.

Isla Boutique in The Hotel Californian

Isla is a gorgeous shop in The Hotel Californian: Sitting mere steps from Stearns Wharf, it’s a great reason to check out lower State Street’s urban gentrification at its best.

The Moroccan architecture of the hotel carries over to the 1,700 sq. ft. store, which has entrances from both inside the hotel and from State Street. It feels a bit like a Marrakesh market, with ceramic tiles, wood floors, sexy lighting and cool, sophisticated fabrics on banquets and draperies that are as inviting as the merchandise. I wanted everything in there, which was good for them, but not my pocket book.

Isla is well prepared to meet clients’ needs for familiar basics, sophisticated ready-to-wear and event looks from emerging designers. It features fine jewelry, artisanal accessories and resort and swim collections for men and women. In store pop-up shops featuring different designers will rotate
though out the year in one of the beautiful in-store enclaves.

Isla Boutique is located in The Hotel Californian at 36 State St., Santa Barbara, 805/882-0100.

Kannyn January of Ambiance, photo by Judy Foreman.

Kannyn January of Ambiance, photo by Judy Foreman.


Kannyn January (that’s her real name) has been a retail wiz kid since 2004. With Ambiance boutiques in San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Mill Valley (Branded is the store name there), and loyal fans up and down the coast, she now brings that experience and panache to good use on fashion row on Coast Village Road.

January had been looking for a Santa Barbara location, so when the former Blanka boutique became available in early spring, she found a perfect home for her vision of the fashion conscious but fun West Coast woman.

Montecito’s store is a go to-place for fun gifts, shoes, jewelry, handbags, hats and a variety of sizes and selection of everything from basics to fashion-forward merchandise.

While a bit young and whimsical, the store’s layout broadcasts an easygoing vibe, where one can hang out and browse, or relax with a beverage in the outdoor living room. January will provide an ever-changing inventory from other locations, so Ambiance will always be new, fresh and fun.

Ambiance, photo by Judy Foreman.

Ambiance, photo by Judy Foreman.

Ambiance Boutique is located at 1266 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 805/969-1811. For more information, visit their website shopambiance.com.

Jake & Jones owner Jennifer Steinwurtzel, photo by Kelly Sweda Photography.

Jake & Jones owner Jennifer Steinwurtzel, photo by Kelly Sweda Photography.

Jake & Jones

With a store named after her two kids, Jennifer Steinwurtzel has curated one of the best-looking new boutiques in town. Located in the historic district of downtown Santa Barbara, the store’s vibe is light, fresh and modern. Steinwurtzel’s creative and business skills come together to create a concept shop that is an experience as well as a retail store, and feels like Soho in New York City or Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA.

Steinwurtzel’s intention was to create a space that was not just for clothing, but home like, and more about the things that she feels help us to be our truest selves—whether that is an item of clothing, a shoe, a book, a card, a planter or pillow—it’s a lifestyle and a feeling she is trying to foster. Steinwurtzel is reaching out to the curious woman (and soon to be man), with items for every age and stage of life, including a super cute tot section.

Pushing the envelope a bit, Jake & Jones tends to be adventurous, with small sophisticated brands, and takes a bit more of a forward push for a customer looking for a special pieces to add to the already unique and treasured items in her closet. Steinwurtzel’s origins are in the East Coast big cities, where people are bold in what they wear, and there is a lot more variety, choices and tastes. “The SB woman is one to dress so that any moment they could go to a yoga class or go to an upscale restaurant,” she says.

Jake & Jones is located at 136 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara, 805/770-7763. For more information, visit their website jakeandjones.com.

SeaVees Showroom & Guide Bar, courtesy photo.

SeaVees Showroom & Guide Bar, courtesy photo.

SeaVees Showroom & Guide Bar

This unique and contemporary shoe manufacturer has its roots in retro cool ‘60s, now rebranded and brought back into the present by CEO and designer of SeaVees, Steven Tiller.

A 25-year veteran in the footwear business, Tiller stumbled upon a used pair of SeaVees at a thrift store in Japan. He researched the history of the shoe line only to learn that B.F. Goodrich, the tire company, which like many used its rubber in footwear, founded the original brand in 1964.

Back in the ‘60s, SeaVees were a featured advertiser in Playboy and Sports Illustrated as the first-ever crossover sneaker—the idea that the sneaker was no longer simply a gym staple but a casual shoe that could be worn to social affairs. Hence the SeaVees tagline: “The original way to go casual.”

Every shoe Tiller designs today, batch-made in small production lots, is equally inspired by Steve McQueen’s hot-rod culture, Jack Kerouac’s San Francisco Beat scene and Richard Neutra’s Desert Modernism—styles that embodied the theme of all things California. Sold in more than 300 stores worldwide with 35-40 women’s, men’s and now children’s styles offered each season, “SeaVees honors its origin by making modern amendments to retro-inspired styling, resulting in a timeless, sophisticated sneaker.”

SeaVees Showroom & Guide Bar, photo by Judy Foreman.

SeaVees Showroom & Guide Bar, photo by Judy Foreman.

The brand continues to preserve the California lifestyle, while also preserving the California Coast. As a member of 1% for the Planet, Tiller donates 1% of all sales to the Gaviota Coast Conservancy. Following the devastating fire and mudslide debris flow, SeaVees handed out brand new SeaVees to anyone who was displaced or had lost a home and belongings, giving out more than 300 pairs.

While it welcomes walk-ins, the showroom displays only its current line and does not carry inventory. The shopper is guided to go online and create a profile for his or her size and style.

This profile is sent to the store and an appointment made after shoes have arrived for customers to stop by and retrieve them. Forward thinking SeaVees footwear continues to redefine casual and cool for all ages.

SeaVees Showroom & Guide Bar is located at 118 Ortega St., Santa Barbara, 805/774-1964. For more information visit their website seavees.com

This story was originally published in the summer 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.


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