Tuesday, October 16 , 2018, 2:21 am | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 
Fashion

Judy Foreman: Rebecca McKinney’s Whistle Club Has a Happier Tune on Coast Village Road

Move to Montecito from Paseo Nuevo gives boutique a fresh start, just in time for fall’s fashion preview

Rebecca McKinney always wanted to open a store that reflected the contemporary and entry-level designer market she fell in love with during her years in New York. Now that she’s moved into her new boutique at 1235 Coast Village Road, she’s feeling even closer to the Montecito community. “It’s enabled new friendships and connections that go way beyond the store,” she says. Click to view larger
Rebecca McKinney always wanted to open a store that reflected the contemporary and entry-level designer market she fell in love with during her years in New York. Now that she’s moved into her new boutique at 1235 Coast Village Road, she’s feeling even closer to the Montecito community. “It’s enabled new friendships and connections that go way beyond the store,” she says. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo via iPhone)

If you’re feeling confused after you notice Whistle Club’s sign hanging from the beams at 1235 Coast Village Road in Montecito, don’t be.

After a year and then some at Paseo Nuevo in Santa Barbara, Rebecca McKinney decided to relocate her upscale women’s boutique and espresso bar to Montecito’s fashion corridor and be closer to her customer base.

She said the feedback from shoppers — yours truly included — was “we like your store, but do not like going into the mall.”

McKinney was all smiles when I stopped by recently to interview her for Noozhawk and to have a coffee at her espresso bar.

“We are thrilled to be more accessible to our core shopper and in proximity to other independently run boutiques,” she exclaimed.

With great natural light, fixtures built by Brothers of Industry in Carpinteria (visit them at their Industry Home retail store at 4 E. De la Guerra St.), and clothing racks the work of McKinney’s husband, the 1,084 square feet of space is much better configured than the double storefront she had downtown.

The lifestyle boutique will continue to carry the same carefully curated (“selectively chosen” in garment speak) selection of women’s apparel, hats, watches by smash hit Shinola, handbags (Building Block), shoes (Common Projects and Rachel Comey), booties, sunglasses (Illesteva), Brooklyn designer Blanca Monrós Gómez, jewelry (Mociun, Catbird, Aesa, Ali Grace), chocolate, candles and nail polish (RGB).

This season McKinney is adding Sophie Buhai’s new jewelry collection, which is full of sculptural silver pieces that are bold but work well for everyday wear.

After graduating with a degree in communications from UC Santa Barbara in 2005, McKinney moved to New York City to attend Parsons The New School for Design, where she studied fashion marketing.

Her first job was buying for the online fashion juggernaut Gilt Groupe and then The Doneger Group in New York, where she analyzed fashion and industry trends and helped retailers — both domestically and abroad — improve their bottom lines.

After years of East Coast winters, McKinney found her way back to Santa Barbara with her new husband, a local architect, and decided to open her own store that would reflect the contemporary and entry-level designer market she fell in love with in New York.

The result is a focus on quality and design, while the East-meets-West Coast design is the shopping experience she’s going for.

McKinney’s personal style is continuously evolving. She keeps her attire relatively understated and always believes in wearing her most coveted designer pieces in a casual manner.

One of her favorite lines, which she’ll be carrying forward into the fall, is by Comey. She said she likes it for its structural silhouettes, unconventional uses of denim and designs that are consistently inventive yet totally wearable.

Whistle Club will also have fewer prints, and an increased focus on materials and texture. Specific items to update your wardrobe will be turtlenecks, wide-legged pants, off-the-shoulder blouses (which are strong for fall) and items that many women don’t already have in their closets.

As I was departing the shop — buzzing from my cold brew, Stumptown in hand — I could sense that the neighborhood vibe felt just right for Whistle Club, a clothing-meets-craft coffee boutique.

“It’s great to be situated among other well-curated boutiques and independently run businesses,” McKinney said. “I find that every store is different and that they add something unique to the mix, but are complementary and to help contextualize one another.

“There’s a synergy along CVR that’s really inviting, and our time open thus far has already presented itself as a strong move for the business.”

When asked what the best part of owning and running a local store in Santa Barbara, McKinney hardly hesitated.

“Becoming a part of the community,” she said. “It’s enabled new friendships and connections that go way beyond the store!”

Whistle Club is open daily at 1235 Coast Village Road, Suite C. Click here for more information, or call 805.565.2800.

— Noozhawk columnist Judy Foreman is a longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Among the Whistle Club array is a lovingly curated selection of women’s apparel and accessory. (Whistle Club photo)
Among the Whistle Club array is a lovingly curated selection of women’s apparel and accessory. (Whistle Club photo)

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