Sidewalk Style: Stepping Gingerly

On two of DC’s sweetest designers, retro DIY has never looked so polished. Can we please get one of those neckties?

Who (left to right): Kristen Swenson, 24, and Erin Derge, 28
Owners of the U Street shop Ginger Root Design

Where:
The Ready Launch Austria jewelry and fashion show at the Austrian Embassy

How did the idea for Ginger Root Design come about?
Kristen: “I kind of accidentally started my own tailoring business last year. [Kristen started as a tailor at the 14th Street vintage shop Treasury. I got really behind, so I brought Erin out here.”
Erin: “One day, we were sitting outside, and we were like, ‘Do you wanna open a store?’ ”
Kristen: “We were working out of my apartment and broke the closet, so we took that as a sign that we needed to expand. We found the space [on U Street] and opened our store within six weeks.”

What kind of wearables do you offer at Ginger Root?
Erin: “We sell eight local artists and two from the Midwest, including my mom’s jewelry. And then we have our designs, which are all repurposed. For instance, this is a man’s shirt. And I made the tie from scrap fabric.”

Kristen: “This [neckpiece] is one of my uncle’s old ties that I made into an ascot. The dress belonged to my grandmother, but I cut it up and completely retailored it.”

How long did these outfits take to create?
Erin: “We planned them out at 8:30 last night. Dressing up is just fun.”

As two gals who definitely sport a unique look, what do you think of Washington style?
Erin: “When we first got here, I was a little scared. I was living in Dupont, and everyone was in all navy. I kept thinking, ‘I don’t fit in here!’ ”
Kristin: “Things have evolved a lot, and there’s been a push towards individual fashion. At our store, we specialize in tailoring items in people’s closets that have been sitting there for one, two, five years. So it’s great to see how many people are excited to revamp their closet!”

Brooke says:
This past week, I went to a runway show hosted by the Austrian Embassy. Naturally, I was looking for the most fabulous people in the room to shoot for Sidewalk Style. There were plenty of fierce looks, but I spotted these unusual and charming getups from the opposite side of the room.

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