By  on August 25, 2009

A look at five “Burn Rubber 2009” stops.

Black Parrot; Portland, Maine

Backstory: The company launched in 1987 as a children’s outerwear label. Eight years later, owner Sherrie Gibson opened a store in Rockland, Maine, but as the retail side grew— and the wholesale business shrunk — she ultimately folded her “Black Parrot” kids’ line, in 1998. Last year, Gibson opened a second shop in Portland. Both outposts sell a mix of fashion, furniture, books and art.

Designer roster: Gary Graham, Alexandre Herchcovitch, Vera Wang, VPL and Vena Cava.

Extras: Gibson is an artist as well — she began her career as an art teacher in Philadelphia — and is working on a commission for the University of Kentucky Medical Center with her husband, artist Warren Seelig.

La Garçonne; Fairfield, Conn.

Backstory: Owner Kris Kim is a long-standing fashion vet. She worked at Prada, Katayone Adeli, Hogan and Y & Kei — all on the public relations and marketing side — before launching, in 2005. “Anyone we associate with dressing really well are all a bit boyish,” says Kim of the Garçonne name. “It’s Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kirsten Dunst, Lou Doillon. We cater to that type of girl.”

Designer roster: Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, Zero + Maria Cornejo, A.P.C. and Zucca.

Extras: The La Garçonne Web site has its own virtual magazine called — what else? — “Le Magazine,” which features the work of freelance stylists and photographers.

Capitol; Charlotte, N.C.

Backstory: Charlotte native Laura Vinroot Poole opened Capitol 12 years ago after noticing a dearth of fashion hot spots in her hometown. “My mother’s friends were all shopping in Atlanta, Charleston or New York and I found that very strange for a city of our size,” says Vinroot Poole, who launched a second store in 2002 for emerging designers, called The Poole Shop. “We’re known for our customer service,” she adds. “We travel at our expense to zip [our clients] into gowns.”

Designer roster: Azzedine Alaïa, Altuzarra, Dries Van Noten, Givenchy and Balenciaga.

Extras: The 6,000-square-foot store was designed by her husband, Perry Poole. Highlights include furnishings from Jean Prouvé, Karl Springer and Charlotte Perriand, artwork by Josef Albers, as well as a 750-square-foot courtyard complete with a vertical garden by Patrick Blanc.

Lawrence Covell; Denver

Backstory: Husband and wife duo Lawrence and Cathy Covell opened their store in 1967 as a leather goods shop. “It was kind of a lark,” says Cathy. “We knew nothing about the business. But we were interested in fashion, loved Europe and wanted to explore all the lines that weren’t sold in Denver or, for that matter, this region of the country.”

Designer roster: Dries Van Noten, Brunello Cucinelli, Maison Martin Margiela, Jil Sander and Yohji Yamamoto.

Extras: Lawrence Covell is a family affair. In 2000, the couple’s son joined the company as its men’s buyer; a year later, their daughter-in-law came on board as the women’s buyer.

Joan Shepp; Philadelphia

Backstory: Joan Shepp entered the fashion game in 1971 with a small accessories boutique in Philadelphia’s Lafayette Hill suburb. “It was a lot of handbags and vintage jewelry,” says Shepp, who now owns a 4,500-square-foot space in Center City with daughter-cum-partner Ellen Shepp-Weinstein. The store features a strong focus on Japanese and Belgian designers as well as a top-notch shoe lounge.

Designer roster: Ann Demeulemeester, Comme des Garçons, Haider Ackermann, Rick Owens, Sonia Rykiel and Limi Feu.

Extras: Just last week, Shepp opened a Y-3 women’s and men’s shop-in-shop on her store’s mezzanine level. “We’re the first in the country, which is really exciting,” says Shepp. “Over 400 people showed up [to the opening party].”

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