Special/Signature Issues » Belle

Style & Substance: People Are Talking

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Walk into Rumors, the new boutique on Harrison Street, and you might catch a group of girls gathered around a TV watching an '80s movie. A guy might be flipping through the record bin. Perhaps a fashion student is working on a project upstairs on one of the community sewing machines. And an art major could be walking in with paintings under his or her arm, hoping to sell them there.

The new shop's 22-year-old owners, Casey Longyear and Marshe Wyche, want the store to be a meeting place and hangout for all kinds of people, and they're trying to offer the right amenities for them all. That, and some cool clothes to wear, too.

Longyear and Wyche first worked together on a fashion show for music and clothing boutique Turnstyle during one of the First Fridays Artwalks last year. They worked so well together -- a minor emergency when one of the designers dropped out left them sewing 12 outfits in a week — that they decided to open a store together. Short on experience and money but flush with ideas, the two set out to offer something new, namely small independent brands you can't find anywhere else in town.

Prices range from $20 to $130. The store carries a lot of T-shirts emblazoned with arty images, like a red shirt with a picture of feet in fishnet stockings. Rumors also sells vintage-looking dresses with silk-screened guns, skulls and insects on them, as well as plastic and jade jewelry, and other accessories.

So far, so good. "The first two weeks we sold 60 percent of our orders," Longyear says. "It's going really well. People around here don't really know the lines. A lot of it is not available anywhere between New York and probably Atlanta. We also just picked up another line that's only available in four stores in the states. We've lucked out a lot just not being afraid to ask."

She says many of the clothing companies she contacts don't know where Richmond is, or laugh and say, "Why not Virginia?" But their success so far seems to indicate there's a market for the clothes.

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