Vira Brings Exclusive International Labels to Beacon Hill
by alyssa giacobbe
Radhika Rana and Vivek Patel inside their new shop, Vira
It’s a sunny day in Beacon Hill, where Radhika Rana and Vivek Patel recently opened their new Charles Street clothing boutique, Vira, to a flurry of curious neighbors. Passersby wander in wanting to know: What can you tell me about the hot pink dress in the window? It’s a stunner, for sure, notice-me bright and low-cut with sharp slits up both front and back. Inspired by a traditional Indian salwar, this high-style frock comes from Mumbai designer Masaba Gupta, one of a number of international brands Rana and Patel are bringing to Boston through Vira. “People think of Indian style as saris and bindis,” says Rana. “But there’s so much more—like funky dresses and tailored tops.”
The Boston-area natives—she grew up in Somerville, he in Burlington— met five years ago through Rana’s younger brother and bonded over their love of style and clothes. Boston was home, but it needed something. They hatched a plan: to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and bring that something back to Boston. “We both had the same goal in mind,” says Rana, who turns 31 this summer. “And that was to open a store, or many stores, that were different from anything people had seen before. We didn’t start out thinking we’d do it together, but ultimately it became obvious that we would.”
While Rana studied the business of fashion at FIT and worked parttime at a downtown clothing boutique as well as an online fashion magazine, Patel, 25, took classes in styling and worked at Bloomingdale’s as a brand specialist. At night, they’d return to the East Village apartment they shared to discuss new and creative things they learned from their day, such as what people really wanted to wear and why. In New York, they also finetuned their personal styles. Patel had arrived at FIT with a penchant for popped-collar polo shirts. Now, he says, his style “changes from day to day,” with an old-school buttonup and skinny jeans one day, a blazer and brogues the next. Rana describes her look as “more rock ’n’ roll… I like girlie dresses with biker boots, something a little punkish.”
With Vira—a combination of their first names—Rana and Patel hope to bring that sense of adventure and fluid, anything-goes style to Boston. Beacon Hill’s intimate community and unique clientele are two of the reasons they chose the neighborhood. (Newbury Street, they say, was “too obvious.”) Sleek and nearly all white in a bilevel space formerly occupied by a framery, Vira certainly doesn’t offer any of the same-old. There’s no designer overlap with other local boutiques, and most labels are exclusive even to the US, including Bodice by Ruchika Sachdeva from India, Al&Alicia from Singapore, and Thierry Lasry from France. “Other countries have their own spin on American fashion,” Patel points out. “Whenever we complimented what FIT friends from other countries were wearing, they’d say, ‘Oh, I got it when I was home in Mongolia,’ or something.” Many pieces, which range in price from $60 to $400, are one-of-a-kind or nearly so, including sequined blouses and jackets by The sleek interior creates a perfect backdrop for Vira’s exotic styles. Kelly green makes a bold statement. “We had the same goal: to open a store that was different.” —radhika rana Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna and uncut diamond chandelier earrings from Mehak by Mehak Gupta.
photography by joel benjamin