Laku on Valencia Street: An Artful Life

Laku means happiness, which is the first thing that Yaeko Yamashita, the owner of the 1069 Valencia store, tells you on her website. It’s been on Valencia Street since 1993, but Yamashita, a fashion designer originally from Japan, first opened a store making and selling her work on Elizabeth Street in New York.  The New York Times wrote in 1991:

There is no sign outside Yaeko’s shop, at 250 Elizabeth Street, near Prince Street. You will know it because of the Japanese woman sitting outside in a beach chair playing with her son. This is Yaeko Yamashita. Her English is a little rough, but her grasp of fabrics and shape is excellent, and her prices are unreal.

She makes little velvet dresses with patchwork bodices for under $100. A jeweled bustier, made from antique fabric, is $53 (matching slippers cost $50). A floor-length grosgrain silk coat is $120. (Open 3 to 8 P.M. every day but Monday.)

Nowadays Yamashita’s son has grown and finished college and she says she has little to worry about. On most days you will find her working in her Valencia store, stitching a new garment or playing the piano.

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8 Comments

  1. Pamela

    Favorite store on Valencia St. Ms. Yamashita’s hats, jewelry, & clothes are fabulous. My friends & I each have a small collection of her wares. So glad she is still around. A bright spot in the ‘hood!

  2. nutrisystem

    When people complain about the Google Bus and the rent hyperinflation that comes with them, what they are REALLY doing is defending Yaeko Yamashita’s right to exist as a creative person in this city. It’s really that simple.

    Astronomical rents (commercial and residential) are poison to the creative life.

    Best wishes to Ms. Yamashita and her beautiful shop.

    • John

      Take a cute story about a store, inject gratuitous amounts of politics and ideology into it, throw in some spurious connections and claims, and another topic has been nutrisystemed.

      Congratulations.

    • Bob

      Surely you object to Ms Yamashita as a bourgeois gentrificatrix who paved Google’s path. What about the taco lard peddler she displaced?

      • nutrisystem

        I don’t object at all. She’s creating beautiful work, and making a little money on sales to live on and enable the creative activity. That’s usually how art works.

        It’s a sad irony that people like her DID pave the way for Gogglistas by creating an attractive, humane city – and in doing so, planted the seeds of their own banishment.

        • Mark

          Beautiful art objects are not cheap, and are usually out of the price range of lower income people. Those with higher disposable incomes are typically the clientele for small businesses like Laku.

  3. Narumi

    I’ve been a customer and a fan of Laku for years.
    Owner,Yaeko has a special ability to create remarkably soft, comfortable and unique goods.
    That make me extremely happy, and whoever I present her goods keep requesting to buy the same again and again!
    Her ideology of beauty, love, and peace is displayed through her ait work.
    People are genuinely happier after wearing her goods.

  4. Narumi

    I’ve been a customer and a fan of Laku for years.
    Owner,Yaeko has the special ability to create remarkably soft ,comfortable
    and unique goods.
    That makes me extremely happy, and whoever I present her goods keeps requesting me to buy the same again and again!
    Her ideology of beauty, love, and peace is displayed through her art work. People are genuinely happier after wearing her goods.

Comments are closed.