Florida Keys Business
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Women's clothing expands Evolution
Duval Street boutique finds wider audience

The clothing boutique at the corner of Duval and Angela streets is living up to its name; evolving and expanding to include a large women's wear department on the second floor.

Key West Realtor Dan Skahen opened Evolution at 701 Duval St. in March 2011 after the previous tenant, Graffitti, moved down the block to 921 Duval St.

For more than a decade, Graffitti catered not only to men, but specifically to gay men, with designer jeans, underwear and barely there bikini swim trunks.

"It was never a place women would go to shop for their boyfriends and husbands, and it wasn't a place where Navy or Coast Guard guys were comfortable shopping," said Skahen, pleased with the shop's survival of the first two crucial years. "I wanted to open a shop that sold items and brands people couldn't find in their local mall - and I wanted all guys to shop there."

Skahen remains a full-time Realtor, who opened the shop as a hobby and "to diversify," he said, crediting manager and merchandiser Darrell Hopkins with choosing a whole new assortment of brands, most of which are exclusive to Key West, meaning Evolution is the only place to find them.

"And once we'd been open awhile, I started to get tired of local women - my friends - telling me they wanted to be able to shop there, and yelling at me for not carrying women's clothing."

That changed on Oct. 1, when Evolution, well, evolved, and replaced the oversized swimwear department on the second floor with a women's section.

"It's been really well-received, so far," said retail associate Jerome Carlton. "Although, obviously, women are still finding out that there's something for them now upstairs."

The women's department includes British and Dutch-based clothing lines such as GStar, Bench and Superdry, as well as super-soft, flowy dresses for $50 by good hYOUman, a clothing line dedicated to the designer's late father.

Tops, jeans, dresses and sweaters range from $28 to $250, while the classically colorful Herschel bags are also top sellers starting around $60, said Carlton.

Evolution also carries a full line of accessories, such as sunglasses, wallets, belts, shoes, you name it.

"You're not going to find any of these lines anywhere else in Key West, or in any suburban mall," said Carlton, neatly folding one of the shop's trademarked t-shirts that feature a picture of a bespectacled monkey personifying the Evolution theme.

"Those t-shirts are making their way all over the world," Carlton said. "People love the logo, and we get so many shoppers from Europe that they're literally everywhere these days."

He added that the shop follows the usual seasons for clothing. Rather than carrying only warm-weather attire, Evolution is currently unveiling fall lines of jeans, jackets, sweaters and long-sleeved shirts.

"People will walk in and are sometimes surprised that we're selling jeans and jackets, but remember most people shopping on Duval Street are going back home to someplace cold this time of year," Carlton said.

Skahen is looking forward to Evolution's first holiday season with women's wear as word spreads about the new second-floor options.

Evolution is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and offers a local discount.

For more information, call 305-293-2940 or visit Evolution Key West on Facebook. Or better yet, stop into 701 Duval St. and peruse the shop that's living up to its name - and now offering something for everyone.

mmiles@keysnews.com

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