May 23, 2015

We Came, We Saw, We Shopped: Urban Air Market

Last weekend’s Urban Air Market was a feast for the eyes, thanks to block-upon-block of designers and artists lined up to showcase everything from headpieces made of vintage mesh bags to furry throws and funky socks. Our intrepid photographer Jennymay Villarete made the rounds to capture designers on duty, as well as shoppers browsing the booths.

Below, a few of our favorite shots from the sunny Sunday afternoon in San Francisco. Check out our Urban Air Market Facebook album for many more.

Local model Kate C. spotted at the Maral Rapp booth. Rapp’s jewelry is made of repurposed vintage mesh bags.

Sakura of Tabbisocks

Gothic glam on display at the Dark Garden booth

April Hansen of Linquist Jewelry, a source for body chain pieces, among other handcrafted metalwork

Linquist Jewelry

Designer Stephanie Hoffman of Stephanie Hoffman Designs

A mother and child cozy up in furs by Gata Designs

Spotted at the Neoclassics booth

Silver Lucy of Silver Lucy Designs

Photography by Jennymay Villarete

Party Seen: Boutiika’s Wear SF Mixer at The Bold Italic

The author with Boutiika Founder Ruchika Kumar.(Photo courtesy of Boutiika)

Local love graces a wall at The Bold Italic.

As the lights went down in the city, the music was being turned up and drinks were being poured at the recent Wear SF Fashion Mixer thrown by San Francisco fashion startup Boutiika and The Bold Italic. Arriving fashionably late (is there any other way to arrive?) a stylish crowd came dressed to impress in cocktail attire.

The scene: over food and drinks, independent designers, boutique owners and bloggers networked and exchanged tales of their latest fashion endeavors. Getting to scope out the inside of The Bold Italic was also part of the fun. Assorted typewriters and clocks displaying times from all around the world were arranged on the walls, and a giant wooden San Francisco sign displayed just outside the doors is a permanent shout out to the city the online culture site covers on a daily basis.

Taking over another wall was a projection of Instagram photos taken by event goers throughout the evening. Whenever anyone took a picture, he or she could instantly upload it into the photo stream.

For the folks at The Bold Italic, the event was just an extension of what the pub tries to do everyday. As Chris Appelgren of The Bold Italic describes it, the events help to, “celebrate what makes SF uniquely special.”

The event also celebrated the independent fashion scene of San Francisco.

As Devon Chulick, owner of event co-sponsor D-Structure SF puts it, “unlike the fashion scenes in New York and LA, San Francisco is a fashion community. It’s not about what you buy or what you are wearing. Our overall outlook is that the person makes the clothes, the clothes don’t make the fashion.”

Another highlight of the evening was the announcement of the new and revamped site. Boutiika creates a “personalized shopping experience,” explained site founder Ruchika Kumar, “the philosophy of better fashion is about fit.”

The retooled site was based on feedback from site users. Taken down for site renovations, the newly revamped site is now live and now offers its users a more seamless experience connecting them directly to the boutiques they enjoy.

The goal of Boutiika, which helps its users locate local boutiques to find unique and one-of-a-kind pieces, is to send people into the stores.

“You can’t match the boutique experience,” explained Mo Julapalli of Boutiika. “E-commerce is the craze, but boutique owners have a passion and want people to come in.”

For more San Francisco Fashion News...

German Indie Fashion Go-To nelou Lands In Silicon Valley

Co-Founders Regine Harr and Boris Berghammer (photo courtesy of nelou)

When the Berlin-based independent fashion startup nelou began in 2011, there were few places people could go to find the latest in indie fashion from all across the globe. So with the innovative company’s recent move to the Silicon Valley, you can bet that our indie fashion radar detectors were going off.

With nelou’s unique concept of creating a single platform from which independent designers from all corners of the world can showcase and sell their designs directly to the customer, not to mention the company’s emphasis on sustainability and concern for global consumption habits, we see many reasons to tip our hats to them.

We spoke with co-founder Regine Harr for some insight into what we can look forward to with their presence here in the United States.

How did nelou get its start? What led you into the realm of online, independent fashion?

All girls can recall situations where we were wearing the same or similar dress as someone else during an event. We also see people on the street and think to ourselves, I have the same jumper or jacket. This is when I thought that there needed to be a solution to the problem. Where are all the independent designers, those who produce in small quantities and have great inspiring designs. This got us started, and 18 months later we have close to 500 designers from 30 countries.

What kind of designs can shoppers find on nelou?

On nelou you can find designers from around the world. You can shop for anything from clothes and accessories, to scarves, handbags, and jewelry. The idea is really that everyone can find their favorite items on nelou. We not only have women’s clothes, but we also cater to men and children. Besides all areas of fashion, we also cover the world. You can find designers from Germany, Spain, Israel, South Africa, USA, UK, Australia, and 25 other countries on nelou.

What sets you apart from other online marketplaces that specialize in independent apparel and accessories?

In the United States, most websites focus on American designers. We really bring the world of fashion onto a single platform. Especially interesting to the U.S. market is our European angle. If you are looking to find items from overseas you can now find them on nelou.

How does shopping from independent designers tie in with the ideas of sustainability and taking responsibility for our consumption habits?

By supporting independent designers, you support local production. Through nelou you can strengthen small business which is so important to any society. Furthermore, the customer pays a fair price which helps to stop the cycle of throwing things away after one season. We can see that people who buy on nelou are much more attached to their products. This is because they know there is a real person behind the label who has shipped it to them, and who put a lot of love and care into the product.

What is the process like for designers hoping to join your fashion community?

That is easy. All they need to do is apply to our website. We then make sure that the photos and products match the quality standard on our website. The designer can then upload all their products and set up shop on nelou. That is it, all free and easy. We only charge a commission when an item is sold.

Any tips for designers who join your fashion community? How can they be successful on nelou?

The designers who are most successful are those who link back from their website to nelou and who understand social media. Using tools like Facebook and Pinterest are important.

Your website provides such a great platform for independent designers from all over the world, what kind of impact would you like nelou to have on the fashion industry?

Our ultimate goal would be to really get people to understand that supporting local production and paying fair prices is important. We cannot maintain our attitude of disposing things we no longer like just because they were so cheap. I remember back in the days how my mum would fix socks when they had holes. It is important that we value other people’s work and our money and lives much more than we do right now. The way we consume fashion will and has to clearly change.

What’s next for nelou? Any exciting future projects or news you can tell us about?

We will be part of the Passport to Rio Fashion Show in the Clift Hotel on the 28th of July, which we are really excited about! We are also in talks with some other major fashion shows, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that those fall into place as well.

More San Francisco independent fashion

In Pane Sight: Picnic

A loose printed skirt and chic sheer button down in the window at Nob Hill's Picnic

In the window at Picnic: just in time for the holiday season, this posh shop’s window got us staring with sumptuous scarves, cozy coats, sweaters to swaddle yourself in by the fire, vintage-inspired housewares, stocking-worthy extras and accessories to compliment your next party dress.

Situated atop Nob Hill, Picnic carries local designers such as She-Bible, ses petites mains, GAMA-GO and jewelry from Zachary Pryor, a.k.a designs, Ofina and Molly M, among many others.

See it for yourself at 1808 Polk St. (between Washington St & Jackson St).

Some of Picnic's apparel and housewares, perfect for gifting!

Perfume perched atop a vintage table

A beautifully detailed butterfly pillow and tree perfect for hanging jewelry

An orange dress cinched with a gold-accented belt is a chic alternative to the holiday season's traditional reds.

Photography courtesy of Rachel Kemp

Style + Tech: FASHION+TECH SF Talks Social Media

Social media experts speak on best practices for branding businesses on the net.

Social media may seem easy enough, but if you’re a start-up fashion brand trying to carve out a space for yourself in the digital sphere, you already know that the process can be challenging. It was those very challenges that a group of social media aficionados and tech-curious entrepreneurs convened at Pigment Cosmetics to discuss during the most recent FASHION+TECH SF.

Online branding best practices and the complexities of internet marketing were hot topics, as were product presos from gift bag swapping phone app Swagg, Abrot Bags, talkTECH Communications and brand ambassador company RAF9.

Ania and Farooq of Abrot bags

The evening was engaging and informative with speakers Brad Carrick of Solz Shoes, Sabrina Bruning of Internet Savant, Uduak Oduak of Ladybrille Magazine, Willo O’Brien of Willo Toons, and Vishal Kalia of RAF9, all of whom took part in the panel focused on topics such as “How do you build online influence?” and “How much time do you invest in managing your online community?”

Formerly known as Fashion Mash-Up, this workshop hosted and organized by San Francisco Fashion And Merchants Alliance’s Owen Geronimo concentrated on the business of fashion and its growing relationship with technology. Local entrepreneurs, fashion designers, bloggers, retailers, startups, and tech-lovers interested in networking, brainstorming and sharing new business ideas are just some of the people who attended the event.

Attendees get acquainted with other entrepreneurs during the networking hour

Experts spoke about their company’s histories with social media and discussed how they set up a strategy and got social media to work for them. A few highlights:

- Sabrina Bruning and Willo O’Brien had this suggestion for brands who want more online influence and followers: be proactive. If you want a response from someone, tweet at them first. Just make sure what you’re tweeting is relevant and not spammy.

- Another social media tip that’s easy and effective: if you see that someone you follow is going out to an event, tweet at them to have a good time or wish them good luck. A little kindness goes a long way, and can help your brand get noticed.

- In terms of online social marketing tools, Twitter and Facebook seemed to be the fan favorites amongst the workshoppers, though the merits of newer applications such as Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram for visual-heavy purposes were also noted by several panelists.

Designer Ben Raviv (left) and SF Indie Fashion's Alexandra Naughton having fun with the #fashiontechsf hashtag sign.

Photography courtesy of Alexandra Naughton (except last photo, courtesy of FASHION+TECHSF)

More San Francisco fashion and technology

Alexandra is a San Francisco writer with a passion for style and creativity. You can find her on Twitter @theTsaritsa