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Cary Lane

Designers at Non-Designer Prices

Bounding off the J-train onto the stretch of 24th Street, I hunt for the place coming up as the new gem boutique in Noe Valley: it’s called Cary Lane and it’s teeming with fresh inventory from au courant designers at non-designer prices.

Perhaps in my excitement I miss the spot on my first pass but on the second I hear the music filtering from the shop onto the street. Owners Cary LaScala and Jeff Saltzman both hail from musical backgrounds and have integrated their love for music into their store. The former plays the drums and recently has joined the popular band, The Lovemakers. The latter is a music producer who has worked on many projects, including recording The Killers’ Hot Fuss album. However on this particular day, the only obvious reference to their love for music is a shiny drum set that gleams over the dressing rooms with music playing in the background.

Where once stood a crammed produce store, now stands an open, transformed rectangular space with high ceilings upheld by robin’s egg blue walls. Hardwood floors provide the base for an angular maze of racks and tables full of clothing for men and women that compete equally in quantity and space.

Barely six months new, Cary Lane opens at a time when consumers are pulling back on luxury spending and looking for quality items at palatable prices. Cary Lane is a boon for men and women alike who seek contemporary designer clothing and accessories that are marked down substantially -- even below wholesale prices.

Inventory changes on a regular basis as new shipments roll in with sample cuts from designers’ studios. Just recently, samples from Sienna Miller’s label, Twenty8Twelve, hit the floors. The best way to obtain first picks is to sign up on Cary Lane’s mailing list.

My last visit unearthed a button collage vest from the Marc by Marc Jacobs collection (marked $448 to $118) and it was my size! A wool peplum jacket by Rebecca Taylor (originally $450 and now $205) and a floral dress ($436 discounted to $188) adorned with sequined ribbons by Mint caught my eye too. Nearby stood a display of Miss Sixty heels in various styles and sizes for me to try.

San Franciscans known for their love of stylish comfort should try the sample cuts by Bread & Butter. The soft cotton dresses and tops start at $62. My particular favorite is a Grecian tiered sleeveless dress that retails for $68 (originally $150).

For men the selection is equally varied and plentiful. Camouflage jackets, graphic tees and denim jeans hang by the rackful. I spotted a pair of yellow seersucker trousers which are fetching for a barbeque outing or Sunday brunch. For the more urbane shopper, Cary Lane offers a range of designers such as Addict, Tailgate Clothing Company, Defend Tomorrow and Kazuo.

Worthy finds include $18 for a pair of board shorts by J. Lindberg. Jeans were marked down to $62 from names such as Five Four and Ted Baker. A classic striped cardigan by Seal Kay is now only $75. In contrast to the classics and staples, a grey blazer with graffiti print by 191 Unlimited sells for $59, which is a steal considering it retails for $145. Finally guys have another shopping destination to visit.

And of course in true rock and roll style, Cary Lane is throwing a party on Friday June 26th. It’ll start with a trunk show for Obey and Artificial Flavor. Obey, renowned for its graphic President Obama stencils by Shepard Fairey, and Artificial Flavor, a menswear label that offers casual, city street looks are going to be onstage. During store hours, the crowd can celebrate with 50 percent discounts to make way for more new shipments. Stick around because there’s an afterparty. DJ music and drinks are for everyone whether they’re backstage or not. It’ll be worth the trek for this show -- just make sure you get on the list.