Shop Talk: The Pioneers

THE FASHION PLATE Joan Shepp, Joan Shepp
What she’s done: She was the first to bring Dries Van Noten, Yohji Yamamoto, Miu Miu, et al., to Center City — where she stayed, despite fierce competition from other haute shops and the creeping KOP-ization of Rittenhouse Row. Shepp moved her suburban operations to Philly eight years ago, and has since become something of a retail Meryl Levitz, welcoming fashion students from Drexel, Moore, Philadelphia University and UArts, providing old-world service, throwing designer trunk shows, and creating the most passerby-stopping window display in town. 1616 Walnut Street, 215-735-2666;

THE LIFESTYLIST Matthew Izzo, Matthew Izzo Lifestyle
What he’s done: In 2002, the former Juan Pablo Molyneux designer moved to Philly and made Pine Street cool again by selling furnishings and home accessories from a just-out-of-school Michael Iannone and already emerged Jonathan Adler. Next, he brought Acne Jeans, Trovata and Heatherette to his über-trendy clothing boutique on 13th Street; then he moved shelter-shop operations to a vast space at 11th and Walnut — and invited the city’s edgiest hairstylists to set up shop in back. 1109 Walnut Street, 215-829-0606, and 117 South 13th Street, 215-629-1240;

THE GOOD SPORT Peter Capolino, Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co.
What he’s done: Turned his dad’s old-school sporting goods company (the onetime outfitter of the Eagles, the Phils, and pretty much every area college team) into the world’s only official manufacturer of MLB-, NFL-, NBA- and NHL-sanctioned throwback gear. Everyone who’s anyone in games or hip-hop — Sean Combs, A.I., 50, Michael Jordan — has performed/given press conferences/hosted parties wearing Mitchell & Ness. 1318 Chestnut Street, 215-592-6512;

THE CRAFTSWOMEN Megan Brewster and Erin Waxman, Art Star
What they’ve done: Transformed a grassroots craft bazaar held in the basement of the First Unitarian Church into a bona fide bricks-and-mortar business — the city’s first cutting-edge craft shop. Booked through 2008 with gallery shows by up-and-coming artists — past exhibitors include Kurt Halsey, Jen Corache, Jenny Hart and My Paper Crane — Art Star has inspired other local DIYers to open places of their own. Best of all, the shop still puts on a mad awesome bazaar. This year’s is tentatively scheduled for Germantown Avenue on June 2nd and 3rd. 1030 North 2nd Street, 215-238-1557;

THE VISIONARIES Mary Clark and Megan Murphy, Vagabond Boutique
What they’ve done: They weren’t Old City’s first style pioneers — before them came Janet Kalter and Joe Schiavo of OLC, the crew at East End Salon, umpteen artists, and bevies of barhoppers — but Vagabond’s owners were responsible for changing the neighborhood’s retail-scape from souvenir shops to cutting-edge boutiques. When their shop opened in 2000, they took chances by combining vintage pieces with up-and-coming national and local designs — including their own work. 37 North 3rd Street, 267-671-0737;

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