Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Business

New downtown Clearwater boutique offers high fashion imported from Italy

CLEARWATER Between two shuttered storefronts on downtown's Cleveland Street, an Italian fashion designer sees glamor.

There will be runway shows in Matteo Perin's boutique, ROMA-N.Y.C., which opened Dec. 15. Lanky models, hand-picked by a Tampa talent agency, will strut across the concrete floor in faux fur jackets, sequined minidresses and 5-inch heels. A fete, maybe in February, will bridge Italian style and an American eagerness to buy it.

But first, people must find out the place exists.

"I'm not sure if Clearwater is ready for some of this," said Perin, who spikes his salt-and-pepper hair and wears silver skulls on his neck, wrists and fingers.

ROMA-N.Y.C. sells clothes, jewelry, shoes, purses and lingerie imported from Italy. A pink ostrich bag, hanging from the ceiling, goes for $3,900. A Ke$ha song plays: Wake up in the morning feelin' like P-Diddy.

Perin hung $7,000 burlap paintings (also for sale), placed the December issue of Vogue on a lounge table and offers one-on-one, in-store styling sessions.

He's not worried that many downtown Clearwater retail spaces are abandoned, with broken furniture and old baby dolls behind glass windows.

"People are coming from all over," he said, "And they're happy to see a place like this here."

Perin, who says he's 29, left his hometown, Verona, Italy, when he finished school at age 14 to stay with family friends in Pasadena, Calif.

Since then, he has lived in New York, Chicago, Denver, Boston and Los Angeles. He paid rent on a Hollywood Boulevard apartment in part by painting and ripping clients' jeans.

"I find my inspiration when I'm moving and traveling," said Perin, adding he has driven across the country three times, often stopping to sketch. "The Grand Canyon inspired the shade on the walls."

Perin, who has eight other stores around Verona, settled in Clearwater about seven months ago. He chose the location for ROMA-N.Y.C., 410 Cleveland St., because, he said, it's near his condo and he likes the brick walls. He declined to say whether he is a Scientologist.

The Cleveland Street boutique is his guinea pig — his "concept store" in the United States. He wants to see how Americans respond to his Italian styles and sizes before ordering more merchandise and opening another shop "somewhere bigger."

Paula Cadman, who owned the Blue Dahlia Marketplace boutique before the Capitol Theatre took over her space on Nov. 1 for the theater expansion, is running ROMA-N.Y.C. while Perin is in Italy through January, designing a spring men's clothing line and meeting with a business partner who controls the finances.

"We needed Matteo's shop here," Cadman said, straightening a rack of blouses on a recent Thursday afternoon. "That's what it takes to get other business owners to invest in this area."

Cadman, who also lives in Clearwater, met Perin months ago when he brought his line of leather bags into her boutique. She immediately loved them and agreed to sell them. A friendship formed.

Now, before she finds a new place for Blue Dahlia, Cadman is sending Perin's fliers to hotels on the beaches.

"I'm helping him because he's helping us all by being here," said Cadman, a member of the Downtown Clearwater Merchant's Association. "He's helping to revitalize downtown."

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

 
Comments
At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

TAMPA — The name of the new Bay 3 co-working space at the Armature Works goes back to World War I, when the red-brick warehouse overlooking the Hillsborough River was the maintenance barn for Tampa Electric’s streetcar system.As the name suggests, it...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Many Americans still cannot afford a $400 set back

Many Americans still cannot afford a $400 set back

Could you pay an unexpected $400 expense?More than four in 10 Americans said they couldn’t without borrowing money or selling something, according to the Federal Reserve’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households released Tuesday.That’s a...
Published: 05/22/18
Target: New Tampa, Clearwater stores part of company-wide makeovers

Target: New Tampa, Clearwater stores part of company-wide makeovers

Target is renovating more than 1,000 stores by the end of 2020, including two SuperTarget locations in New Tampa and Clearwater.The Clearwater store’s makeover — which the corporation calls ‘‘reimagining" — just wrapped up, according to Target spoke...
Published: 05/22/18
Downtown St. Pete Ford’s Garage and Yeoman’s to open Wednesday

Downtown St. Pete Ford’s Garage and Yeoman’s to open Wednesday

ST. PETERSBURG — Ford’s Garage, a car junkie’s haven, has proven to be popular eatery across the state.Now it has a chance to drive customers to its seats in St. Petersburg. The restaurant opens its ninth location downtown Wednesday at 200 First Ave....
Published: 05/22/18

The hostile work environment checklist: How toxic is yours?

Workplace stress is hardly a new phenomenon. Everyone has a bad day (or even month) at work now and then. Your client presentation didn’t go as well as planned; your boss didn’t fall head over heels for your proposal; you had to stay late to finish a...
Published: 05/22/18
Career Q&A:

Career Q&A:

Q: Despite having a stellar employment record, I am concerned about two incidents mentioned during my recent performance review. Both involved accusations which were completely unfair.Several months ago, our human resources manager told me that I was...
Published: 05/22/18
Tampa-backed company with candy-like coffee thins inks deal with Dunkin’ Donuts

Tampa-backed company with candy-like coffee thins inks deal with Dunkin’ Donuts

TAMPA — Tampa-based private equity firm ProspEquity Partners paid $18.2 million less than three weeks ago for a two-thirds stake in Tierra Nueva, a Miami company with a new idea for coffee, and already it has some big news.Tierra Nueva has inked a de...
Published: 05/22/18
Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Saturday was Jacob Kosinski’s big day. His whole family, many from out of town, saw the Charleston, South Carolina, student graduate from his Christian-based homeschool program with a 4.89 grade point average and the coveted honor of summa cum laude....
Published: 05/22/18
It’s picking time at Brooksville blackberry farm, one of a handful in the region

It’s picking time at Brooksville blackberry farm, one of a handful in the region

BROOKSVILLE — Black follows blue in the berry patches of Hernando County, but blackberry proponents claim they’re worth waiting for.Today’s blackberry brambles are thornless and don’t require bending over to pick. Their fruits are mouth-full juicier,...
Published: 05/22/18
Amazon is selling facial recognition to Orlando law enforcement - for a fistful of dollars

Amazon is selling facial recognition to Orlando law enforcement - for a fistful of dollars

Amazon has been providing facial recognition tools to law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Orlando for only a few dollars a month, according to documents obtained by American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, paving the way for a rollou...
Published: 05/22/18