Strolling down the bustling, shop-lined streets of Georgetown you’re going to encounter a bevy of shiny shops. From online-only stores venturing into a brick-and-mortar location to mall-friendly chain retailers, and vintage boutiques, none quite come close to the chic, fashion-forward mainstay that is relish boutique.
True to its decidedly different vibe, the shop is located off Georgetown’s beaten path in Cady’s Alley, atop a cobblestone street and draped in relaxed, verdant vines. Owner and store curator Nancy Pearlstein prides herself on the boutique’s European-esque exterior and its sleek, minimalist interior.
For the past 26 years, Pearlstein has curated relish with international luxury designers that embody cool-girl elegance, streetwear swagger, and laid-back silhouettes. She doesn’t carry Instagram-hyped designer pieces, like say Louis Vuitton purses or Balenciaga pant-boots, but rather wearable, high-quality pieces that exude a nonchalant luxury.
While hunkered down during the pandemic, Pearlstein got to thinking about adding luxury menswear to her shop. She’d tried two decades ago with less-than-ideal results, but the state of menswear and streetwear now is entirely different than ever before.
Between the rise of Supreme, Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton, and Dior’s high-profile collab with Nike, menswear is attractive and enviable to a whole new generation of people. Gone (for now) are the days of tailored suits and pocket squares as the vision of fashionable men. Now, organic shapes, monochromatic outfits, and creative takes on well-made basics turn the heads of style appreciators.
“In the two decades that have passed since we first did menswear at relish, a new generation of men have come of age with a hunger and appreciation for dressing with style and individuality”, says Pearlstein. “Lately, men have been walking into the shop, begging us to carry clothes like we have for women, but I have resisted- gun shy to try again. Whether Covid got me thinking, or my love of menswear got the best of me, I finally relented.”
Pearlstein is no stranger to menswear having grown up helping with her family’s boutique, Louis Boston. The longstanding Boston boutique closed its doors in 2015 after 85 years of service. Pearlstein learned a lot about menswear from her father, Murray, whom she accompanied to Europe to see menswear and fabric shows, and chat with successful shop owners and designers. Her training helped her to develop a keen sense of style and a singular, cohesive aesthetic that she carries from real life to relish.
“I like brands that are not all over the place, have a certain artistic creativity that is wearable, and have garment quality that is exceptional because that, for me, is very important. And so I kind of balanced it out between what is fashionable, what is easy to wear, what has nice fabrics colorations and try to blend it all together to make a story for relish that has our signature on it. And I think we're trying to do exactly that same thing for men and using most of the same vendors because they do both men's and women's. I can see men buying some of the women's and I can see women buying some of the men's and it just is one big package that hopefully will relate to a lot of people,” says Pearlstein.
The boutique will carry top designers from around the world, including Dries Van Noten, Marni, R13 and Song For The Mute. Following this season, Pearlstein will be weighing options for additional designers to add to relish’s inventory. Menswear officially launches in-store on Wednesday, Oct. 12.
Relish boutique is located at 3312 Cady’s Alley NW.
Photography by: Vina Sananikone