All words: Stephanie Breijo
All photos: Jeff Martin
A cabin, a stack of books, a worn pair of leather boots; a foggy day seen through the pines, a canoe, a pile of hand-chopped firewood–you’ve never left the city but you’re knee-deep in rugged America.
Mutiny, arguably DC’s most masculine retailer, has you right where they want you: in an outdoor state of mind, without ever leaving the District. The carefully curated selection of sweaters, boots, trousers, accessories and reading material all harken back to a simpler time, when all that mattered was your gumption. Just one glance around the company’s new workspace–one of the many artist alcoves in the 52 O Street Studios–and you’ll feel it.
From the stray homemade hatchet sitting on the counter to the hand-hammered leather belts that lie on shelves and hang throughout, you instantly sense the importance in Mutiny’s belief in not only housing beautiful things, but working with independent designers and craftsmen who believe in making beautiful things. Their retailers and collaborators hail from as far as England and as near as Tennessee, cultivating an array of nicknacks, beard oils, hand-tailored jackets and kerchiefs.
“Mutiny is for somebody that is kind of an interesting spirit,” said founder M. Gert Barkovic. “They’re open and organic and like to travel but backpack … I see it as someone who is hands on and loves what they do, a literate individual, somebody that is also a little mysterious.”
Barkovic, a sculptor, understands the importance of mystery and craft.
She began Mutiny in 2009 not as a shop but an art installation, a voyeuristic look at someone’s belongings while they were away. (Think motorcycle touring maps of England and Scotland from the ’20s and ’30s, laying the groundwork for what would become an entire collection for rugged travelers.)
The response from D.C. was so overwhelmingly positive that she decided to roll it out the following year and call it Pioneer, which told a different story. (Think large collections of arrows, boots and apothecary items.) Then came Where the Forest Meets the Sea, a collection leaning toward the nautical man and the woodsman and what would become Mutiny’s trademark aesthetic.
“Those two characters combine really well together and they’re dark and they’re moody in their storytelling,” Barkovic tells me. “That is really when we decided to start Mutiny … I love that it’s come about in such an organic fashion. This is a sort of a happy surprise in a way.”
I ask Barkovic what every female fan of Mutiny wants to know–will they ever carry womenswear?
“I think that if we were to do it it would be some type of capsule and it would reflect the same personality as the men’s line,” she answers. “You won’t find calico print or roses but very well tailored, very articulate pieces.” We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
Mutiny’s workspace is open from Monday to Thursday, 11:00am – 5:00pm and by appointment. You can still find them at the DC meet market one the first weekend of every month and at the upcoming Union Market event, THREAD.