You wouldn’t know it, but those khakis you’re about to buy in blue, sage, and red? They’re actually the same carpenter pants you wore in the 90s. Only they’ve been re-cut in a slimmer, modern style and over-dyed in bold colors.

Ginger Root Design

Overdye red khakis, vest converted from damaged blazer, and fall men’s blazer.

Photo by Kim Maxwell Vu

At Ginger Root Design, everything that is old is new again… and we mean that in the literal sense. Owners Kristen Swensen and Erin Derge have created a unique brand that includes a boutique, clothing line, and tailoring shop that focuses on reviving the past.

Swensen made the move to DC in 2009 and ran a tailoring business out of her apartment in Shaw called ReVamp. When demand for her services grew, Swensen called upon her best friend from Minnesota, Derge, and soon the two red-haired Midwestern women were at the helm of what is now one of the most buzzed about lines in DC.

The charming U Street shop is chock-full of locally made men’s and women’s clothing, neckwear, cufflinks, and more. Among the accessories and artwork from talented locals is the Ginger Root line, all eco-friendly and upcycled from old clothes or vintage/surplus fabrics. You’ll find a variety of unique pieces for the modern guy and the vintage-inspired gent — pocketed men’s button-ups; revamped vintage vests with stripes and decorative applique embellishments on the back; and the signature Ginger Root ascots, available in a variety of colors and patterns.


Ginger Root Mens vest: vintage refurbished vest that has added stripes on the back from an old tie.

Photo by Mark Silva

Ascot recycled from vintage tie.

Photo by Ginger Root

Above the boutique is a recently renovated tailoring/design space  where they restore treasured clothing items. Here the pair and a group of alteration experts work on everything from tailoring suits in a fitted, tapered way (something old-school tailors may protest) to simply hemming dress pants.

We also get a number of men that want us to modernize/redesign old pieces they have had around for 5-10 years but can’t let go of, they wrote in an exclusive interview with BDMOTP. Sometimes shopping your closet can cost the same as buying something brand new, but it’s more unique, custom tailored, and often times those older garments were made better (especially vintage pieces).

The turnaround time for altering a suit is typically two weeks, although they can swing basic alterations to pants and button-ups in a week. Tailoring for suits costs from $50 to $150, whereas hemming pants or taking in the waist is generally $25. They are by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead.

As if a clothing line/boutique/tailor isn’t ambitious enough, the ladies also host basic sewing classes and hope to have a men’s clothing pop-up in the near future, so be sure to check their blog, where you can also see some examples of their work and pick up some sewing terminology.

Fashion is contagious, and each day someone takes a risk with their wardrobe, they help give another person a little boost of confidence to try a new style as well, they wrote. DC has great momentum, and even though there’s a lot of work to do yet in the fashion scene here, it’s getting better every day.

Modern Guy display.

Photo by Ginger Root

Vintage-inspired display with Ascots.

Photo by Ginger Root

New pocketed men’s button-up, paired with outlined tie, and overdye khakis.

Photo by Ginger Root

Cuffs for men by Metal Musings, owner Erin’s mom.

Photo by Kim Maxwell Vu

All men’s blazer closed, converted from vintage blazers.

Photo by Kim Maxwell Vu

Overdye red khakis, vest converted from damaged blazer, and fall men’s blazer

Photo by Kim Maxwell Vu

Ginger Root Design

1530 U St. NW
Neighborhood: U Street

Store Hours:
Monday, 2 to 7 p.m.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday Noon to 7 p.m.
Sunday 1 to 6 p.m.

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