Bump It Up

Since SoBe’s Washington Avenue seems pervaded by glossy strutting figures, NYC-wannabe pizzerias, kitschy storefronts with metallic letters and tawdry neon lights, monstrous nightclubs and Cuban-owned bodegas, it doesn’t appear to be the ideal spot for a counterculture clothing shop, does it? Surprisingly, Osiel shuns all the archetypal perceptions of glamorous fashion on South Beach to adopt an off-the-wall take on the latest vogue.

Opening their store last June 10th, owners and managers Osiel Rojas and Melissa Ettere moved to Miami and decided that it was time for the beach to flip the script and keep up with New York’s massively dominant style.

The space where Osiel resides has been reborn, transformed from its once beat-up shape as a vintage store to an uncluttered, visually appealing shop with some elbow room. Complete with tall hospital-white walls, black and white checkered tile and a single display case, Osiel gives off an enigmatic allure that keeps you wanting more.

While enthralled with the uniqueness and peculiar fusty smell, an hour (or two, or three…) is easily passed carousing the racks, fondling numerous reworked t-shirts, simple dresses and jackets. Plus don’t overlook the industrial racks full of robotic toys, books and original Nintendo games, but keep in mind that Osiel not only claims to have style but also a flair for music and a taste for art. So it’s a bit like a fusion of three elements, if you will: fashion, music and art.

The art serves as decorations (but isn’t merely decorative) and splash the bare walls with an aesthetic vibrancy. About every month, anyone can come and partake in some schoomzing and enjoy the gala for a new artist (not to mention the promise of free alcohol and killer music). Usually the art is from locals or artists Osiel has ties with back in NY. As of late, Hugo Brioso’s altered photographs hang in the space along with four very eye-catching ’80s Cuban entertainment posters straight from his private collection and unfortunately not for sale.

As for the fashion, every ingredient needed to make a turning-heads outfit is right at your fingertips. Just inside the door is a display case filled with big, plastic, dark-lensed glasses and some rather large gold belt buckles – the kind that you wear to make someone take notice of you “down-there.” Beyond that, Osiel gets its styles from NY, Philly, LA, San Fran and, of course, Miami, although NY and LA have the best selections. The knowing pair who own and run the store claim that they cater to both men and women and tend to have a very tourist vs. local clientele.

“For the men, it’s the classics, t-shirts and jeans, and for the women, it’s
important to have unique pieces,” says Ettere.

For this, Osiel is perfect: endless amounts of tees and numerous, very matchless tops with knots, sequins and lace provide the perfect balance to the one-in-every color clothes that “Mall-based” Miami carries. If from the look of some of the more renovated pieces you ask yourself, why not just go to the flea market to score some cheaper finds, the answer is simple. Osiel is selective and convenient, everything is clean and you don’t have to worry about encountering someone’s left-over body odor (ick!) or a squashed spider without legs chillin’ in the pocket fold of a pair of jeans.

“Sometimes, it’s the atmosphere that you’re paying for,” explains Osiel, and why not, especially ’cause it’s worth it.

As for the accessories, classic brightly-colored ’80s pumps, beige canvas totes, brown leather TWA bags and plain trucker hats line the industrialized shelving.

Just when the magnetism of the store can’t get any better, the smell of musty records draws you like a mouse to cheese into the back corner where dozens of records envelope your fingers as they flip through the titles. All of the music is electronic and record junkies who e-mail Osiel for the lists of their new titles are given an “alternative to the regular groove man and Uncle Sam’s style, it’s very international,” says Ettere, allowing the music hungry clients to have access to a stockpile of IDM and electro type disks.

One glance up above will reveal the makeshift DJ booth lofted at a bird’s eye view, perfect for Osiel’s once-a-month soir