ML - Boston Common


Boston Common - Niche Media - A side of Boston that's anything but common.

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makes a bold statement. Kelly green The sleek interior creates a perfect backdrop for Vira's exotic styles. "We had the same goal: to open a store that was different. —radhika rana " The Boston-area natives—she grew up in Somerville, he in Burlington— met five years ago through Rana's younger brother and bonded over their love of style and clothes. Boston was home, but it needed something. They hatched a plan: to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and bring that something back to Boston. "We both had the same goal in mind," says Rana, who turns 31 this summer. "And that was to open a store, or many stores, that were different from any- thing people had seen before. We didn't start out thinking we'd do it together, but ultimately it became obvious that we would." Flirty summer fashions While Rana studied the business of fashion at FIT and worked part- time at clothing a boutique Patel, took classes downtown as well as an online fashion magazine, 25, in styling and worked at Bloomingdale's as a brand specialist. At night, they'd return to the East Village apartment new and creative things they learned from their day, such as what people really wanted to wear and why. In New York, they also fine- tuned their personal styles. Patel had arrived at FIT with a penchant they shared to discuss from left: Red dress, Vertigo ($245); printed dress, Yoanna Baraschi ($320) for popped-collar polo shirts. Now, he says, his style "changes from day to day," with an old-school button- up and skinny jeans one day, a blazer and brogues the next. Rana describes her look as "more rock 'n' roll… I like girlie dresses with biker boots, some- thing a little punkish." With Vira—a combination of their first names—Rana and Patel hope to bring that sense of adventure and fluid, anything-goes style to Boston. Beacon Hill's intimate community and unique clientele are two of the reasons they chose the neighborhood. (Newbury Street, they say, was "too obvious.") Sleek and nearly all white in a bilevel space formerly occupied by a framery, Vira certainly doesn't offer any of the same-old. There's no designer overlap with other local boutiques, and most labels are exclusive even to the US, including Bodice by Ruchika Sachdeva from India, Al&Alicia from Singapore, and Thierry Lasry from France. "Other countries have their own spin on American fashion," Patel points out. "Whenever we complimented what FIT friends from other countries were wearing, they'd say, 'Oh, I got it when I was home in Mongolia,' or something." Many pieces, which range in price from $60 to $400, are one-of-a-kind or nearly so, including sequined blouses and jackets by Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna and uncut diamond chandelier earrings from Mehak by Mehak Gupta. They do all of the buying together, with Rana's business sense balancing Patel's more free-spirited side for a mix that's exciting without being it's too exotic. "How do we know this is going to work?" muses Rana. "It's a risk, for sure. But something we truly believe in. We might just end up sell- ing polos, but for now we're trying to push the barrier a little. Boston needs something different. It has to get more exciting." And now it just has. 107 Charles St., 617-367- 0305; BC 79 photography by joel benjamin

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