Dana Davidson sews bestselling vests and more at Epicenter

David Briggs
FASHION: For almost three decades, Epicenter has featured one woman’s chic creations.  

Tucked away at Main Street’s southern corner is a women’s clothing boutique that finds the cross between functional and sensual. For the past 28 years, Epicenter has attracted locals and tourists alike to its sleek and colorful clothing, most of which is designed and hand-stitched by the shop’s owner and founder, Dana Davidson. Ms. Davidson, a Nicasio resident, first opened up shop in a small space in Olema in 1990. “I began as a 36-year-old single mom who had no idea what she was doing,” Ms. Davidson said. By the end of her first day, sales had nearly matched her initial investment of $500. Fashion design runs in Ms. Davidson’s family; her grandmother was a hat maker for Mae West, and as a child, Ms. Davidson would play with her supply of feathers and sequins. After taking a sewing class in junior high, she began creating her own pieces; by age 20, she started her first business in L.A. selling airbrushed and silk-screened T-shirts. Two years later, she found herself in West Marin, sewing costumes for the Hot Tomales Theatre company. Nowadays, she works out of a home studio equipped with five sewing machines. (She also offers “hemming on the go” at her shop.) She sources most of her fabrics from France and Italy and favors those with stretch. “I love fabrics that feel good to touch, like a fabric you’d want to wear,” she said. One of her earliest bestsellers were leggings, debuted during the stretch fabric craze of the early 1990s. She reckons she’s sold nearly 3,000 pairs, adding that interest in them has recently returned. In 2010, Ms. Davidson moved the store two miles north, to its current location behind the Coastal Marin Real Estate office. On a recent afternoon, a red dress with a leopard print lining on its bottom edge hung on a hook outside. Inside, underneath a turquoise case that serves as a counter, sat a row of one of the shop’s signature items: shirts and hoodies adorned in the word “Dogtown,” celebrating the nearby community. To the side of the counter hung her most recent bestseller—vests. About four years ago, she designed a vest made of boiled wool that features a diagonal zipper and big pockets and falls below the hips. It struck a chord. Ms. Davidson sells about 100 a year, at prices ranging from $189 to $220. Jean Knapp, of Point Reyes Station, said the vests “make whatever I’m wearing look better. I live in them; they’re a part of my uniform.” Epicenter is open from noonish to sundownish, most days of the week, at 11100 Highway 1, in Point Reyes Station. It’s always closed on Tuesdays.