MARINE VILLA – On Mondays and Tuesdays, SwedLife at 2218 Cherokee St. is fairly quiet. However, from Wednesday to well into the weekend, the store brings a new swagger to Cherokee.
Patrons walk into a boutique that greets them with a plethora of unique clothing pieces, a small arcade machine playing “Marvel vs Capcom 2,” and a small gray bulldog named Youk. The store is filled with life, from people playing with the dog to customers talking to the cashier about sports and culture while he rings up their purchases. The moment shows a small but budding community within a culture that is slowly growing in St. Louis.
The store, which has been on Cherokee for two years, is one of the first specialty stores to sell streetwear in St. Louis and has become a haven for local brands.
The store was founded by two Washington University students, Seth Feldman and Lucas Olivieri, who originally created a blog on music and fashion.
“We started the blog in college and started talking about music originally, and then street art and street fashion became a big part of it,” Feldman said. “[But] clothes really became what we really wanted to focus on.”
With the blog getting much more popular over the years, Feldman and Olivieri began working on making the store a dream come true. After drawing up a lengthy business plan for the official store, the two went to a trade show in Las Vegas to look for brands that would later become household names in fashion including Mishka, The Hundreds and Diamond Supply Company.
“We were really determined to bring really genuine streetwear culture and then share that with other people because it was a scene that wasn’t super developed in [St. Louis],” Feldman explained.
SwedLife has a specialty in what the owner calls “counterculture,” clothing from brands that are well known on the internet but haven’t made the jump to mainstream markets such as Zumiez or City Gear. When the originally opened in the Delmar Loop in 2011, it was the only one that was supplying streetwear from once-limited brands such as Rare Panther and HUF to local brands such as Odessa.
“When I first came here, none of my favorite streetwear was available,” Feldman said. “I mostly shopped when I was back east or online. That’s kind of [why] we decided to open the shop right after school.”
SwedLife has been a home away from home for many area streetwear enthusiasts, from long-time locals to big time artists. At its old Delmar Loop location, the store hosted meet-and-greets for musical artists such as Stalley and was also a favorite of St. Louis Rams players. But one of its biggest contributions has been the number of pop-up shops it hosts. The two most recent at SwedLife sold out in one day.
“Scenes pop by supporting themselves,” Feldman said. “It’s really cool to see St. Louis support other people from St. Louis that heavy. I feel like that’s a major step to scenes getting on and getting recognized.”