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The Bar Code

Changing the Fashion Code

Indulging your fashion desires can seem frivolous in a down economy, unless you’re making your own clothes or shopping second hand. But if you can still afford it, there are events like weddings, anniversaries, or snazzy shindigs that might warrant a brand new dress.

The bimonthly sales at the The Bar Code on the Embarcadero near Washington Street are a great resource for fun fashion at discounted prices. The sales feature wholesale-priced designer and contemporary clothes and accessories with live music, art and even fashion shows.

Owner Danielle Bourhis is a woman dedicated to the fashion lifestyle, blending different elements to bring the clothing she sells to life. Previously Danielle was the founder of the handful of “Brown Eyed Girl” boutiques found throughout the Bay Area, where she mixed fashion with interior design, and the study of women to create a lifestyle store. A few years back, a flood destroyed the inventory of one of her Marin stores. After cleaning up the store, there were a great many bills to be paid. Working hard over the next few years, Danielle managed to sell all off her inventory, especially focusing on the sales items, to pay off the vendors. Once Danielle found herself debt free, she decided to take a year off.

Reenergized, Danielle stepped back into the world of fashion. Last year she helped launch a lifestyle coaching venture called Wing Woman, and closely followed that with the opening of The Bar Code this May. For this venture, Danielle approached her former vendors to work out a partnership where The Bar Code sells the excess inventory through a consignment service for prices less than wholesale.

Danielle says she and her business partners designed The Bar Code to be a kind of “Lollapalooza” of fashion. Each event includes DJs, cocktails, live art by local artist Ian Ross, and even an old fashioned popcorn machine. The most recent event featured a fashion show and there are plans for more in the future. It’s a good place for a group of fashionistas to get together for an evening out.

When I visited the shop this past month, inventory included a pink top and a purple and black dress with cap sleeves, both from Black Halo ($100 and $200, respectively). I also spotted a neon watercolor print dress from Walter ($154, regularly $268), and a white, yellow and gray mod-style dress from Tribute by Heni Neman ($98, regularly $253). Quite a deal! I also found cotton boy shorts ($26), tanks ($36) and all over lace boy shorts ($22) from Oakland-based designer Porcelynne.

As I mentioned, there is live art from the prolific local painter Ian Ross. You can check out the artist in action as he puts the paint to canvas, but sometimes even someone’s leg. Much of his artwork is available for purchase at the event, like the painting “Midnight” ($500). At a previous Bar Code sale, I found a framed limited print of an invitation Ian created for the event ($40).

The current sale started yesterday and goes through Sunday June 28th (6:00 p.m. to 11:00 today, Noon to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday). There will be no events in July, but check back in August as the location of The Bar Code will likely move to another storefront on the same pier and may also become a full time store. Danielle is also planning satellite events by early next year in Marin, Berkeley, Palo Alto, Venice Beach, and perhaps even Miami. In addition, there should be an online store in the coming year, too.