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Ver Unica's Closet

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Brand-new homemade cashmere sweaters find a home at Ver Unica

By Jenny Shears

The owners of the "fashion forward vintage boutique" Ver Unica take classic clothing a step further: they stock their shelves with the best from the past and create modern classics of their own. In addition to repairing, redyeing and rebeading their vintage specialties, the shop is quietly slipping brand-new homemade cashmere sweaters onto their shelves.

Using the purposely nonspecific Ver Unica label for over a year now, the designer of these popular sweaters, and one of the shop's four owners, Willow O'Brien now steps forward to claim her own. Creating the limited runs (she usually makes about 10 per design) in her home on an industrial and home sewing machine, O'Brien combines several influences in each sweater she makes. "I really like the '30s, and quite honestly, I use myself as a model in making the sweaters," she says. "I focus on the parts of my body that I like. I like things that hit tightly in the waist, that are tight on the arms." The results are beautifully crafted sweaters for smaller sizes.

Still, O'Brien's creations are variations of classic sweaters; her cardigans may clasp at the neck, creating a triangle-shaped opening that may reveal the lace front of a slip dress worn underneath. Another interesting style is the tube or bandeau-style sweater worn over a shirt, or daringly alone. Though these sweaters are still feminine in cut and size, O'Brien has replaced frills with simple details like silver clasp closures and "bullet stitches" in areas of extra stress.

And O'Brien uses nothing but cashmere for her sweaters, all of which are thick, soft and short of fuzzy. The material is a bit of an obsession for O'Brien: "If I could have my whole bedroom done in cashmere, I would have sheets and towels and bedding. It's like a goal for me."


Ver Unica sweaters are currently available at Ver Unica, 148 Noe (at 14th), and Junebug, 519 Laguna (at Hayes); 415/431-0688.

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From the December 21, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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