Bluffton’s Fashion District

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MALUKA IS A LOCAL BOUTIQUE WITH URBAN STYLE

Bluffton’s Promenade district is the closest thing the Lowcountry has to an urban scene. Nightlife, residential living space above restaurants and a walkable scale have made this area popular with Millennials.

The metro feel made this location appealing to Kim Block when she decided to open a boutique in her new hometown. Her shop, Maluka, looks like a clothing store one might find in the downtown of a large city.

Block, who recently moved to Bluffton from New Jersey, said the growth in the area gave her the confidence to invest in the Promenade. When she opened Maluka in June 2016, customers in Bluffton didn’t have many options for high quality, fashion-forward clothes.

Enter Kim Block and her business partner Kari Giordano. When Kim moved to the Lowcountry three years ago, Kari stayed in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, where she owns a clothing store also named Maluka. The two collaborate when buying for, merchandising and marketing their stores.

“Maluka is a combination of three girls’ names, but it also means ‘crazy’ in Portuguese,” Block said. The smile on her face while she talks about the shop shows that while the store is first and foremost a business, it’s also fun for her and her staff.

Running a boutique in the South took some adjustment. At first Block carried a lot of bright colors, but soon realized that her customers wore a lot of black. And although Maluka features higher end lines including Amanda Uprichards, Block recently began incorporating smaller lines to make the clothes more affordable. Styles—from velour track suits to off-the-shoulder shirts, bell sleeves and ripped jeans— reflect popular trends.

“My customer is a little bit trendy and will try things,” Block said. “It’s not so much the label as the look.”

Block and Giordano hand pick the best pieces from each collection every season. By the front door, dramatic looks for evening beckon window shoppers off the sidewalk and into the boutique. Foot traffic, Block said, accounts for a lot of her business.  One shopper described the clothes on another rack as “work sexy” and her friend nodded in agreement. Denim, cut out t-shirts and other casual wear take up another portion of the store. There’s a sale rack in the back.

Gift items such as jewelry, hair accessories, clutches, pajamas, slippers and throw pillows have been popular.  At the counter, ponytail holders embellished with golden caviar-style beaded accents make a great gift for a teen. Necklaces of statement initials in brass and silver on black silk cords show the wearer embracing her identity.

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Special events including twice-a-month ladies’ nights are good opportunities to get to know the store and staff. Wine, appetizers, exhibits by local artists, cosmetics and good conversation are the order of these evenings —interspersed with plenty of shopping, of course.

The women who come to these events, and who shop on the store’s website, are of all ages.

“It’s how you style the clothes and how you wear them that makes them age appropriate,” Block said. “When you look good, you feel good.”

 Maluka is at 5 Promenade St #1303. For more information go to shopmalukasc.com or call 843-815-4674.