Something old, something new, a splendid combination of the two! Sui generis Boutique is a gold mine for the stylish chica on the hunt for smart vintage and modern apparel at affordable prices. Focusing on style instead of fashion, Halimah Whitby, sui generis’ founder, offers pieces that are simultaneously fresh, timeless, and sure to become treasured favorites. Read on to get the scoop on one of our “go-to” online shopping destinations.
How did you come up with the name ‘Sui generis’?
I guess you can say words are one of my not-so-secret fascinations because dictionary.com has been emailing me the “word of the day” daily for the last few years. I’m sitting at my 9-to-5 one morning, checking my email, and the word of that particular day is a Latin term—Sui generis. When I discovered the meaning: unique, being the only example of its kind, in a class of its own, it was a BOOM moment; the name of my vision along with the premise of its existence was born. I knew that sui generis was the perfect name to represent what I sought to create.
When did the boutique launch?
sui generis boutique launched on Halloween, October 31 in 2005
What’s the story behind Sui generis boutique?
I always knew I wanted to own and run a business. There was no better time than when I found myself as a painfully disgruntled corporate employee. Punching the clock for the rest of my life just couldn’t be my reality so I decided to put my business plans in motion. I looked to create an antithesis to mainstream stores that offered racks and racks of identical items in different sizes because I haven’t met a girl yet who wants to bumps into someone with the same outfit as her. I wanted to feature keenly hand-picked vintage and new items that appealed to today’s fashionista.
So my target is those everyday fashionistas with a sick, individual sense of style; her style is broadly influenced and she loves to put her own twist to her wardrobe. She doesn’t necessarily avoid trends but she’s going to rock it with her own signature appeal. The everyday fashionista is committed to staying fabulous but still has those everyday bills. We want to look good but that car note and mortgage/rent payment still needs to be paid. So we keep our prices at a moderate price without sacrificing quality.
Do you have a physical store location as well?
I’m working on it! God willing, I will have a physical location in the D.C. or metro Baltimore area within the next couple of years. Stay tuned.
What differentiates sui generis boutique from other vintage boutiques?
sui generis boutique is all about the eclectic fusion of fashion. I use the word fashion a lot about but we’re really focused on style. It’s a thousand fly styles out here—so no need to put yourself in a box and limit your options. Wear what you like, how you like—just wear it well. We’re all about mixing—vintage with new, flashy with conservative—which is why we offer new flavors along with vintage flavors.
We hand pick our vintage gems with today’s fashionista in mind. I think vintage is to be appreciated by all and my goal is to present it in a way that maintains its relevance to the modern day fashionista.
Also, in an e-world of no-refund policies, suigenerisboutique.com is proud to offer a reasonable return/exchange policy. This gives our clientÃ¨le the comfort of being confident in their purchases. Domestic S&H is also free on purchases over $100.
What kinds of items do you carry? (i.e. dresses, clutch bags.)
We have it all. You could cover your entire outfit within the pages of suigenerisboutique.com – from tops, to bottoms, to your shoes, to your accessories—some vintage, some new.
Do you have a celebrity clientÃ¨le?
Kelis LOVES suigenerisboutique.com. No, I’m lying—I mean she might but I have no viable proof. I have no celebrity clientÃ¨le to report on other than the fabulous local celebrities that you find gracing the streets, supermarkets, and subways in cities within and outside of America.
Why should our readers check out your store?
Because we’re fly!
We’re a mom-and-pop shop and we offer fly items at reasonable rates. The risk of finding someone with the same item is rare. We sell one of each item; once it’s sold, it’s gone.
What are your future plans for Sui generis ?
First things first is a new and improved suigenerisboutique.com. I will relaunch the site within the next year with an explosion of more items—vintage and new—with a particular focus on fly vintage pieces. The site will be updated regularly and will be an overall more fabulous site.
A physical location, as mentioned, is also a future plan.
I’ll continue to mingle as a creative director/stylist/consultant for fashion shows and shoots. Lastly, I’m flirting with the blog craze—I may develop a fashion related blog of some sort. It’ll have to be something special though, since they’re everywhere I want to make it stand out or I might as well not bother.
Overall, aiming for nothing less than extraordinary, so I’ll keep challenging myself with new ideas to expand and perfect the business.
Can you offer any tips for newbies who are trying to buy quality vintage pieces?
My short and sweet tip is if you like it grab it.
Otherwise, vintage is special because it’s just that—vintage! Unless it’s marked as deadstock (an item manufactured but never sold) it has been worn, so reasonable wear is to be expected. In general, the same discerning taste you show in shopping for modern clothing should be applied with vintage clothing. Inspect your item and don’t shy away from asking questions. You’d want to avoid anything with dispicable odor that may not go away with a visit to the cleaners. You’d also want to avoid anything with severe stains—these too may not go away with a trip to the cleaners. All items on suigenerisboutique.com are carefully chosen. Rest assured, we won’t sell anything that isn’t wearable.
Also, sizing in vintage terms is a lot different than modern day terms. Vintage sizing is a lot smaller than contemporary sizing so don’t be discouraged if you can’t wiggle your modern day 4 frame into a vintage size 12. That’s actually not so different than shopping today store to store. You can walk into one store and be a solid 6 based on the fit and walk into another store and need a 10. So don’t get wrapped up into sizes—if it fits, it fits, despite the digits on the label. On my site I try to be as detailed as possible on the size to help the potential buyer determine if the item will be a good fit. I encourage buyers to ask questions on my site; I embrace emails with questions on items and sizing. Lastly, some may disagree, but don’t be afraid of a little alteration with your vintage items. Invest in a good tailor who feels comfortable with vintage alterations and let them work their magic to get it perfect for you. This individual should be able to tell you the garments alteration potential; what can and cannot be done.
Ready to shop? Check out www.suigenerisboutique.com.