Oh Easter 2010. There were no pastels, no outdoor egg hunts, and certainly no big fete in Dolores Park. Instead there was wind to make any white Easter skirt end up as a church hat and torrential rains that probably drowned even a few earthworms. So stepping into Studio 3579 on the corner of Dolores and 18th Street (dubbed “the best corner of the city” by designer Priya Saraswati) was both for the purpose of scoring a trendy dress or bag, but also a warm, dry and airy alternative to outside for the die-hard shoppers. So when the space that now reads Studio 3579 is leased, and the designers make the move to Embacadero, the store will be truly missed.
Studio 3579 is an open space with simple décor. The 500 square foot store has white walls, hardwood floors, stainless steel clothing fixtures and track lighting. Simple. The store is a designer collective, meaning more than one designer owns and operates the space, which is actually a total of 1100 sq.ft. if you count the back studios of Saffron clothing designer Priya Saraswati and jewelry designer Joy Opfer. Opened in May 2008, it has become a destination for residents living inside and out of the Mission District.
When Saraswati quit working in investment banking it seemed to her the best time to dive into design and fashion, something she’d always had an interest in. With encouragement from her husband, the self-taught business-savvy artist from Canada thought San Francisco would be the perfect place for her design aesthetic. The result, clothes that can take you from “the conference room to cocktail hour.” Body conscious shirt dresses ($165), the Uma coat which can be worn as a dress or an overcoat ($225) and anything in iridescent cotton chambray are some of the most popular pieces.
“I really like to make people think differently about the way they dress for work. You don’t always have to look the same as everyone else,” she said. “I find that when you feel really put together you project that out to the world.”
My favorites: pinstripe denim trousers for $180, the Preeti dress—a stretch cotton poplin that comes in colors like copper, steel and gunmetal, $120, and the Phara pant in navy for $150.
Right now Saraswati is working on her newest line that includes a lot of color blocking and comfy fabrics. I’m predicting mass appeal for her rayon jersey dress in soft gray with deep royal blue color blocking, pleated royal blue draped rayon shirt, and LBWD (little black work dress—get with it) with a peek-a-boo back. She calls it her Michelle Obama dress “because she would look so cute in it,” she said laughing. And luckily for the first lady Saffron carries from XS (0) to XL (12-14), accommodating both the lean and the curvaceous.
And while Michelle Obama might be a far reach right now like-minded business women in the financial district are not. The move to Embacadero is opening Saffron—and Saraswati—up to another customer, the out of town commuter. Now women blow through the store during their lunch breaks scouring for work clothes that look quite different from anything they can get at Banana Republic. And with the new 1500 square foot store (she’s filling it with her designs, Joy O, some bag lines and she hopes to soon bring in LA t-shirt company sub_urban which is currently sold at Studio 3579) she’s waiting for the right kind of person to take over the space in the Mission. Her prediction, a food vendor, but she says anything can work in the space.