Raleigh Style: Scouting for designers and boutiques in the capital city

Some of NOFO’s wares.
Some of NOFO’s wares. Pagan Reid

From quirky designers to swank boutiques offering luxe labels, Raleigh’s fashion scene offers something for many tastes. And with two of the state’s best collegiate fashion programs (N.C. State’s colleges of textiles and design and Meredith College’s fashion merchandising and design program) cranking out new talent each year, the city’s style scene continues to grow.

When there’s not a runway show (fashionSPARK, N.C. State’s Art to Wear and the Redress Eco-Fashion Show are three not to miss when you’re in town), there’s still ample opportunity to see all the city has to offer. Try seeking out the following designers and boutiques.

Raleigh Denim Workshop and Curatory

319 W. Martin St., 919-917-8969,

Husband-and-wife design duo Victor and Sarah Lytvinenko have been crafting their premium denim line the old-fashioned way for nearly a decade, using North Carolina-sourced cotton that’s woven into fabric in Greensboro and handmade into jeans in their downtown workshop. The Council of Fashion Designers of America members also have a retail location in New York City, but their Raleigh Curatory offers the best selection – plus the chance to see how your jeans are made in the attached workshop. The shop also stocks an assortment of men’s and women’s clothing, leather accessories and gifts.

Stitch / Holly Aiken

20 E. Hargett St., 919-833-8770,

Fashionable Raleigh women can often be spotted by their bags – distinctive totes, satchels and clutches designed by Holly Aiken. Her bags are as durable as they are stylish, made with soft vinyl in retro-chic designs and colors that include geometric patterns and limited editions, such as a banjo bag created for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Wide Open Bluegrass festival. Aiken’s downtown shop, Stitch, also doubles as her workshop for making the popular bags.


Trained in large-scale sculpture and interior design, jewelry maker Christina Brooks approaches design from an artistic standpoint, and her jewelry reflects that. Using precious metals and semiprecious stones such as turquoise and jade, Brooks makes necklaces, rings, bracelets and hairpins with an earthy, sculptural look. Brooks’ distinctive jewelry is available online, as well as at several area boutiques, such as Gather in downtown Raleigh and Makery Boutique in Durham.

Zass Design

14 Glenwood Ave., No. 27, 919-307-9170,

Zass Design began as just an evening hobby for mother-daughter design team Zulay and Steph Smith. Graphic designers by trade, the duo paired their eye for design with a passion for sustainability to create a line of up-cycled jewelry. They use uncommon, recycled materials, ranging from magazine pages to Formica, to create geometric statement necklaces, earrings and bracelets. The pair’s jewelry is available at several area spots, including their own shop in the bustling Glenwood South district.

Moon and Lola

208 S. Wilmington St., 919-322-4277, 2014 Cameron St., 919-301-8717,

Pharmacist-turned-designer Kelly Shatat gave up a career in the medical field to pursue her dream of designing jewelry, starting with a one-woman operation in her living room just over a decade ago that has grown to several stores in the Southeast and placement in national retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Shatat’s preppy-chic line is heavy on monograms – from colorful acrylic letters to personalized pieces in gold and other metals – along with delicate pendants, earrings and more. Her designs have even drawn the attention of Oprah Winfrey, with monogram cufflinks earning a spot in Oprah’s annual “Favorite Things” list last year, and her customizable pet ornaments making that list this year.

High Cotton

19 W. Hargett St., No. 100, 919-817-8319,

True to its name, High Cotton has made a mission of helping to revive the state’s textile industry with its N.C.-sourced and -made bow ties, neckties, button-downs and more, in a rainbow of colors and patterns. A family-run business, it operates out of a downtown flagship boutique. There, customers find regular events, such as First Friday soirees, plus the annual Collegiate Design Competition, which gives up-and-coming talent from N.C. State a chance to have designs put into production.

Lumina Clothing

215-120 E. Franklin St., 919-977-0130,

Starting out as a neckwear company, Lumina expanded to a full menswear line with button-down shirts, trousers, ties and accessories. It specializes in fashion-forward Southern style that’s made in the United States, with traditional chinos in trendy, bold hues and rich, dark-wash jeans made with White Oak Cone Mills denim from Greensboro. In addition to its own clothing line, the company’s Seaboard Station shop stocks shoes, bags and grooming supplies from American-made brands such as Topo Designs and Red Wing.

NOFO at the Pig

2014 Fairview Road, 919-821-1240,

Housed in a former Piggly Wiggly grocery store (hence the name), NOFO at the Pig is part funky gift shop, part foodie paradise. (Some Charlotteans will recall NOFO on Liz, a Charlotte outpost in the mid-2000s.) Focused on Southern-produced goods, the shop carries everything from art and gift items by local craftspeople to bow ties from Raleigh’s High Cotton and Holly Aiken bags. Shoppers can nosh on farm-to-table Southern fare in the store’s cafe, and pick up locally produced foodstuffs to make their own meals in the gourmet market.

DECO Raleigh

19 W. Hargett St.; 919-828-5484,

If the city had an official gift shop, it would probably be DECO. The downtown store prides itself as a promoter of local artisans and stocks an ever-changing assortment of locally made products – from art to accessories – that come with a healthy dose of capital city cool. Raleigh-centric T-shirts from House of Swank, Porch Fly Clothing and FourYou Designs are popular.

Edge of Urge

215 E. Franklin St., 919-827-4000,

Edge of Urge started as a 400-square-foot shop in Wilmington where owner Jessie Williams sold handmade clothing and accessories she and her friends designed. Today, the boutique is a bustling hub in Raleigh’s Seaboard Station, with distinctive fashion made by local hands. The shop sells shirts, leggings, jewelry and more made in-house for its Edge of Urge label, along with quirky-cool clothing, accessories and even home goods from local artists and designers. Williams and her team go a step beyond with their Mama Bear Project, taking up-and-coming designers under their wings to offer advice and assistance through a network of photographers, marketers, pattern makers and others.