Leather isn't for everyone. But anyone who enjoys wearing leather will find unique fashions at a new boutique in Northwest Portland. Mai's Boutique, which opened last week, is stocked with brightly colored leatherwear imported from design shops in Italy, Turkey and Pakistan.
"If you are looking for a statement piece for a special occasion, this is the place to come," says co-owner Nadeem Waheed. "Each piece is unique. We have no mass production. At most you'll find two or three similar pieces. So people who don't want to look like everyone else love our coats and jackets."
A one-of-a kind shearling coat with a gold overlay, for example, is a part of a small batch of sheepskins with a metallic effect. And hand-dyed jackets in purple, blue, olive, caramel, red and yellow can't be found anywhere else in the city.
Prices are reasonable, Waheed says, because he works directly with his hand-picked sources.
"You can come in with $100 and leave with something very beautiful," he says. "And if you come in with $3,000, you can find something that would cost $6,000 elsewhere."
Waheed teamed up with Beverly Hills transplant Mai Strauss to open the Portland store. It's the latest addition to a portfolio that includes boutiques in New York; Ketchikan, Ak.; Ohio and Pittsburgh, Penn. Next year he plans to open stores in Vail, Colo., and Carmel, Calif.
The store does offer some leather items from popular designers, such as Michaela, Kenneth Cole and Cole-Hahn. A range of adorable baby booties from Poland is set to expand.
Mai's also does alterations, and will work with customers to redesign and update your favorite older items.
Each store has a different inventory based on the local lifestyle, Waheed says.
"Portland is a place where a lot of people do outdoor activities, so we brought in some of the best quality goose-down ski jackets."
Coming soon to the Portland store are rugs, scarves, gloves, hats, bags and booties. And dog-lovers who want to kit out their pooches in designer doggie coats will soon find those at Mai's too.
"We want to design for dogs," Waheed says. "That's the next thing we will be doing."
Mai's Boutique is located at 2332 N.W. Westover Rd. Portland 503-477-8661
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