World music playing from a Macbook engulfs the room. An afghan-covered couch sits in the center. Everything points to makeshift thrift store — but it works. 31 Rax hits you with a sense of nostalgia and youth, and it’s not just the longing effect of the 80’s floral dresses and bomber jackets.
New boutique owner, Stephanie Madrinan, opened 31 Rax early in September with hand-picked thrift and vintage clothing from Los Angeles and San Francisco. “My store reflects me. It’s a direct mirror of myself — funky; makes no sense sometimes, nothing matches, anything goes,” she said. “I wanted to create a space where I could be artistic, a space that people want to be in and be creative and express themselves.”
There’s a wistful, almost pensive, feel to the place. Once a yoga and pilates studio, the space came with a set of cyan gym lockers, which now props a row of gold trophies that Madrinan’s father and brother won from tennis tournaments in the ’90s. The studio place has a decor of other knick knacks from her old apartment in LA, including framed paintings of the South Pacific and Tahiti that hang above the racks of clothing.
Madrinan’s own style reflects 31 Rax’s effortless cool. “I dress like I’m dressing in the dark,” she muses. “I don’t match, plan, or think about what I’m wearing. I just put it on, on the [spot]. I feel comfortable, confident, and don’t care if I look [crazy].”
The store name ’31’ refers to the day Madrinan was born, on New Year’s Eve, combined with a play on the word ‘racks’. Interestingly enough, ‘rax’ also means to reach out, as an extension. Which makes sense. For five years, Madrinan had been selling clothes online, out of her apartment, at clubs, and at fashion shows, dubbing her business ‘Steph’s Closet.’ In this sense, her boutique is an extension of her former online trade. “I wanted to work for myself, create something for myself, and share it with others,” she quotes.
Shop retro at 31rax.com, or meet Madrinan at:
3309 Mission St (between 29th St & Virginia Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94110
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By Laura Zhen