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Spice + Nice

Shotwell may seem like an odd name for a shop on Grant between Banana Republic and Chinatown, but it’s no mystery the young establishment already has a loyal following. With a refreshing mix of vintage and edgy international and local designers, consider Shotwell a prerequisite for the discerning style maven looking for something spicier than an outfit ripped out of an Urban Outfitters catalog.

The sleek and inviting two-story Shotwell storefront of today started with husband-and-wife Michael and Holly Weaver selling vintage wares out of their home on Shotwell Street in the Mission. After a series of pop-up shops, Michael and Holly moved into their first retail space on Geary in Union Square in November of 2008. This July they moved to their current location: 320 Grant Ave.

“We picked Union Square because we felt that it would be a great opportunity for us to reach a broader audience and a chance to introduce local designers to out-of-town shoppers,” Michael said. “We decided to keep the name [Shotwell] when we moved because it’s where we started. It’s local… it’s part of our community.”

Setting foot in Shotwell feels kind of like visiting your stylist friend: two-stories of beautiful things you’re invited to ogle and try on, friendly advice included. Heart set on that black sequined Aryn K top but no ideas what to pair it with? A put-together and helpful sales associate is never far from reach and won’t oversell for the sake of getting goods out the door.

“I think our selection of merchandise and our staff is what keeps people coming back,” Michael says. “All of our staff are fashion lovers and super knowledgeable on all of the brands we carry. Most of them are designers or artists themselves, so they bring that passion to the customer.”

Vintage clothing, designer duds and accessories are sprinkled throughout the store, men’s and women’s mixed. Shoes are always at the top of the stairs and when I visited, shoppers were going gaga over the $29 per pair sale. Oxfords are all the rage and you can find the freshest pairs here: mix textures with Slow and Steady Wins the Race oxfords: canvas, reptile skin and suede ($112).

Generic Surplus’s aptly named “wing-tip” oxford sneakers with spectator detailing in all black or gray with white soles ($76) will add class and style to just about any sartorial ensemble, and the “a generic man product” tagline somehow makes them more appealing. Increasingly popular Toms are also sold here as well as boots, heels and flats you probably won’t find at the mall.

Clothing brands include New York-based Surface To Air, Charlotte Ronson, British favorite You Must Create, Swedish label Cheap Monday, and Elizabeth and James of Mary-Kate and Ashley fame (co-designers and muses of the label). On the hunt for not-so-ordinary skinny jeans? French denim label April 77 is favored by Mick Jagger and you can find purple and zebra-print skinnies here, along with the standard blues and blacks.

The accessories at Shotwell and stuff from local designers keep me coming back: upcycled necklace/menswear vest hybrids by local designer Jocelyn of Nous Savon ($56) are original and sassy. Wool bowler hats and fedoras abound in many colors, many under $50. For two dollars more you can get studded berets (studded here does not equal the rampant embellishment that turns pieces elsewhere to trash).

Local designers include Gytha Mander (button-down shirts and wonderful bowties), Ali Golden (one-of-a-kind women’s dresses and hoods), Totem by Nikki Garcia (fringed tank dresses and micro-mini frocks), Vanessa Gade (sculptural and geometric handcrafted silver jewelry from the Mission) and Gangs of SF (graphic tees).

Though Shotwell is not the only local establishment to carry some of the brands listed, their particular mix of product combined with always-sunny service bring Michael and Holly’s shop a notch above. “Shotwell exists to add joy and stylish living to the world,” Michael says. “We not only bring in designers from LA and NYC, but it’s very important to us to represent the fashion scene in SF and present those talented designers a platform to get their name out there.”

Can’t get downtown? Online shop launch in the next two months, but no matter how much you avoid tourists Shotwell is well worthy of a break in protocol.