Tongue In Chic

By Brooke Bunch / Photos by Jeff "Turbo" Corrigan

In Dante Rowley's world, works of art come in pairs.

Rowley, 27, opened Rosewood San Diego, an art gallery and sneaker consignment shop in East Village, offering San Diegans a taste of footwear trends running rampant in Los Angeles and New York - think limited editions of Nike Air Jordans and other popular high-tops from the 1980s.

Rosewood is high-end, with über-chic art. Minimally adorned with stark white couches and industrial-style piping, the shop offers the most sought-after sneakers.

"We're talking like one out of a thousand pairs ever made," Rowley says. "Our customers are looking for the unique; they care about what they wear."

Named after a side street in L.A.'s Fairfax district, Rosewood boasts row-upon-row of vacuum-sealed Nikes, Jordans and Bapes (Bathing Ape, a Japanese clothing company) in all sizes and colors. Bright spotlights zero in on the rare collection, which is surrounded by oil-painted canvases from local and national artists.

"It's just what I'm into," Rowley says. At home, his closets are filled with 1,000- plus unworn shoes he's collected over the past 15 years.

Rosewood also houses a rack of designer clothes: Chanel , Givenchy and Louis Vuitton.

But Rowley says it's all about nostalgia and uniqueness for most of his customers.

"These are the shoes from their childhood that they couldn't afford," he says. "We let Sneaker Heads re-live their pasts. Our clientele wouldn't be caught dead wearing the same thing as someone else...and now they don't have to."

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