Few store openings in Hayes Valley have caused quite as much drama as that of Kit and Ace—a clothing retailer that signed a lease for 371 Hayes St. (the former home of Painter's Place) earlier this year. But after a prolonged formula retail review, the space is now open and operating as a clothing store, art and craft showcase and design studio.
In May, the Vancouver-based company's plans for a Hayes Valley location were placed under formula retail review by the Planning Department, after the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA) filed a complaint about the company, stating that Kit and Ace's aggressive expansion plans meant it exceeded the maximum of 11 other retail locations worldwide and violated the neighborhood's formula retail ban.
In August, signs appeared in merchants' windows opposing the presence of Kit and Ace. In response, the company launched a website, ironically called "nokitandace.com," where it questioned the definition of "local" and fought for its right to be in the neighborhood. In late August, the appeal filed by HVNA was denied, and the Planning Department ruled that the retailer could open after all.
On Thursday, those doors did finally open—revealing a bright and modern interior with the company's line of "technical luxury" clothing on display. Everything from jackets to underwear is sold in the space, with equal attention to both men's and women's apparel.
A large Zio Ziegler painting titled The Memory hangs to the left of the dressing rooms. The Bay Area-based artist has a mural in nearby Linden Alley, and had a solo show of his work at Jules Maeght Gallery around the corner from Kit and Ace earlier this year. The artwork on "The Wall" will rotate regularly, according to store employees.
Last but not least, a "technical atelier" is located at the front of the shop, with spools of thread, sewing machines and computers on display. This workspace will be used by two local designers-in-residence, with designers working for a three-month period, capturing local input from the store and creating new Kit and Ace styles.
Kit and Ace will be open from 11am-7pm Monday through Saturday, and 11am-6pm on Sundays.
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