Bold Prints: Smak Parlour celebrates 10 years


Fan Dancers dress with print by street artist Joe Boruchow

by Claire Margheim

Abby Kessler and Katie Lubieski of Smak Parlour debuted their street art-inspired The Cut & Sew Collection on March 20 at their Old City storefront. It’s their first collection of originals since 2010, but that isn’t because they’ve been slacking off.

In addition to keeping their retail boutique open seven days a week, in 2013 they launched their retail-on-wheels Smak Parlour Fashion Truck, a 22-foot box truck outfitted with vintage furniture, hardwood floors, track lighting, a skylight and a dressing room. 

Smak Parlour began as a sewing parlor for the friends’ in-house label “Smak” in 2005, before evolving into a retail outlet featuring chic, affordable women’s clothing and accessories from a variety of brands.

“We are celebrating our tenth birthday by getting back to our roots,” Kessler says. “After all, sometimes looking to the past is the best way to move into the future.” 

The duo has created a truly made-in-Philly line, working with a manufacturer in Hatboro for the printing and sourcing of a new generation of spandex, and using Sewing Solutions in Bedford for cutting and sewing. They also partnered with three Philadelphia artists to create the prints: graphic designer Dave Holley, street artist Joe Boruchow and Smak Parlour employee Chelsea Goich.

“Having designed the graphics on our fashion truck, Holley was a no-brainer,” says Lubieski. “And we saw Boruchow’s fan lady image on a mailbox years prior. We had it in our minds from then on that we needed to work together.”  

Kessler and Lubieski looked to their own staff for the third inspiration. After finding Goich’s sketches in the margins of their register tapes, they felt she was sending them a message. So, they turned her hand-drawn polka dots, strawberries and watermelon halves into prints.

The combination of these diverse artists produces a surprisingly balanced collection: bold repeat prints on burlesque-inspired dresses; classic black-and-white patterned skater skirts; and whimsical peplum tops.

So, what’s next for Smak Parlour? “We hope to wholesale our Smak Parlour collection,” Lubieski says. “The bold prints would be perfect for so many fabulous shops!”