May 30, 2015

We Came, We Saw, We Shopped: Thread Show

Shoppers came in droves to support San Francisco's independent fashion scene

On a late November Sunday, there was something for just about everyone at Thread Show, whether you fancy rock star jewelry made from guitar picks, saucy lingere with skull face cut-outs or just an afternoon spent amongst designers, down tempo DJs, and fans of local fashion.

Founded in 2003 with ten events per year, Thread aims to be a dynamic, one day retail event bringing the latest and greatest offerings from the local style world’s envelope pushers together under one roof. On the day of its most recent San Francisco event, rainy skies turned sunny just in time for the arrival of the VIPs, who got a chance to scope out the sale before everyone else.

Take a look at some of fun finds we ran across at the show:

Creating art at the Art Kills Artists booth

Funky macabre jewelry at the Bela Koi booth

Happily macabre jewelry at the Bela Koi booth

Men's shirts and outerwear at the Bridge And Burn sample sale

Hand painted flasks, cases and wallets by De La Luna Designs

Hand painted vintage shoes by De La Luna Designs

Tees and artwork by The Ivorys

Fur and leather accessories by The Feathered Leopard

Colorful denim by Future Standard

The SF Giants logo bejeweled on a pair of guitar pick earrings by Rock N The Trend

Elvis and Fender guitar pick earrings from Rock N The Trend

Leather and semi-precious mineral jewelry for pets and humans by Rockhound Pets

Adorably edgy undies and lounge wear by Stephanie Bondar of Honey Cooler Handmade

Mannequin sporting a Stolen Sunday Scoodie (a.k.a. a scarf hoodie)


Photography by Alexandra Naughton

More San Francisco local designers

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

Feel Good Fashion: Jeff Oakes Scarves & Accessories

Jeff and weaver Jaipur

For some designers, their calling is crystal clear from the moment they sit in front of a sewing machine or pick up a pencil and draw their first sketch. And then there is Jeff Oakes, a San Francisco designer who almost accidentally stumbled upon his now-blossoming career producing hand-printed and woven scarves, totes and home accessories with a socially-responsible twist.

Some may call it a happy accident, others fate, but after a chance encounter with a weaver during a trip to India, Oakes had a literal “a ha!” moment. Launching a company focused on ethically-produced, woven textiles made by artisans from at-risk communities around the world would satisfy both his interest in social responsibility and his love for textile design.

With an extensive background in the corporate retail and the design industry (he’s an alum of Gap Inc.) and a degree from San Francisco’s Apparel Arts under his belt, Oakes opened his design studio in 2008.

His goal? To create ethically-made luxury products that support and promote artisan entrepreneurs through a variety of educational projects designed to encourage creativity and improve their skills. Oakes hopes to preserve the artistic heritage of multiple at-risk communities by working with artisans in places such as India’s village of Bagh in Madhya Pradesh, as well as rural southeast Rajasthan and New Delhi.

We caught up with Oakes to discuss his transition from the corporate world to social entrepreneur, his designs, life in San Francisco and what the future holds.

Colors from Jeff's Fall line

A Jeff Oakes tote

A colorful Jeff Oakes scarf

A neutral tone woven scarf

So, prior to starting Jeff Oakes design you were working as an architect. Why did you decide to make the transition and start your own line?

The short answer is “ by accident.”

The more complicated answer is that starting my own line happened over a period of time. At the end of 2007, I was on a quest to see how I might parlay my experiences as an architect and corporate retail executive into playing with textiles.

I was on my first visit to India and by sheer chance I was introduced to an accomplished weaver.  He brought me to his village in rural southeast Rajasthan. I literally had an “ah ha!” moment as he was showing me the entire process of making cloth. I knew instantly that I had found a team to begin designing and producing textile products.

When I got back to SF, I enrolled at Apparel Arts to learn apparel construction techniques and the language of the business. Almost two years later, I met and started working with a fantastic business coach assigned to me through the SF Small Business Council.  Together we honed my business plan, developed two five-year financial models, a short-term and long-term web strategy and put a launch date on the calendar.

What kind of woman wears Jeff Oakes designs? Can you describe her?

Almost all of my clients are genuinely interested in how a design was inspired and executed.  They often will be looking for unique or limited-edition designs to gift or to compliment wardrobes they have built over a lifetime.  I would describe her as a well read and confident woman.

 What types of designs are you drawn to when creating pieces for your line? What and where do you draw inspiration from?

 Inspiration? This is the easy part. It’s all around me – literature, dance, music, parks, travel, my dog Kate, architecture, antique textiles, sculpture, museum exhibits, the weather – it’s endless. The challenge for any designer is in the “editing” of all the ideas and questions that come into your head.  Once you have a clear idea and clear parameters – the decisions you make in developing a product go pretty quickly.

The final pieces for a collection are always informed by the final output of the R&D phase of the process. The weave, fiber content, the hand, the weight of the cloth, the prints, the color will dictate if something should be scarf, a wrap, a top, skirt or pant. I let the magic of the concept and process meld and influence the collection we present. Having said all this, I do enjoy designing accessories, scarves, wraps and bags.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

My current favorite fiber to work with is wild silk from India.

The silk often comes from the forests in rural and very poor areas in the northeast. Tribes people steward these forests and process the silk to supplement their incomes. Being that the worms are exposed to all the elements, when processed the sheen, texture and color of the fibers are much more interesting to me than farm-raised and the finely spun silks.

When you’re not designing and creating, what else do you do?

I am paraphrasing a mentor of mine: “you don’t decide you are going to be a designer on Thursdays at 2:00 pm.  The line between life and work is always blurred. Through the process of discovery, each is always informing the other.”

I think this is true. I read a lot, and, by design, I travel quite a bit.  Observing people, especially in city squares, is a favorite pastime, so is cooking and playing with my dog Kate. OK – I admit it – playing with Kate may not be related to design. She simply reminds me to stay present and to live joyfully.

Tell us some of your favorite shops in San Francisco? What are your go-to spots to find indie apparel and designers?

MAC on Grove Street. The owners Chris and Ben present a wonderful point of view of the industry.  I live in the heart of Hayes Valley, so I don’t have to go very far to find great indie designs and designers.

What inspired you to start your own line?

I can think of many. One of them is reading a lot of biographies of successful businesses and creative people. The most recent book I read is by Barbara Corcoran, SHARK TALES. She writes about how her mom and dad influenced her approach to her life and work: working smart, using common sense, having integrity and surrounding yourself with the best people to help you be successful.

At the end of the day you have to trust yourself and understand you don’t have to do it alone or know all the answers.

How would you describe the Jeff Oakes aesthetic?  

I would describe my aesthetic as modernist. However, you wouldn’t always see that looking at my products.

Where can we find your designs?

You can find my designs at The Gardener in Berkeley and at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, Rubicon and the Vine House at Beringer Estate Winery up in the Napa Valley. By appointment, you can visit and shop in my studio in the Mission.

What new and exciting things are you working on at Jeff Oakes design?

Currently we are working designs that are inspired our study of rain, fog and mist. We’re looking at how these elements are expressed in literature, architecture and music as a way to express pattern, color and texture in cloth.

For Spring/Summer 2012 I will be introducing new home products, including cool retro hand-woven cotton throws, a line of hand-woven and printed table linens. I will also introduce my first collection of women’s tunics.

Photography courtesy of Jeff Oakes

Oh, the Newness: Little Feather SF Winter 2011

Horn Necklace, $62, with a copper tone center bead, black glass bead disks, polished cow horns and silver coils on a nylon rope.

This holiday season, watch out for the Little Feather SF Winter 2011 Collection by San Francisco designer and Academy of Art alum Melinda Rodriguez, who combines an array of exotic  materials (feathers, horns, sequins, bones, crystals, glass beads and even rope) to achieve a result that skillfully balances elegant with bold, fragile with strong.

In her latest pieces, Rodriquez juxtaposes delicate and strong elements to create a new line of jewelry that makes a statement while maintaining its feminine appeal. We think the rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings are perfect for gift-giving or treating yourself to a little something special. Because gift giving feels just as good as receiving, doesn’t it?

Amethyst Crystal Necklace,$36, with Amethyst crystal, copper plate cable chain and Bali copper clasp.

White Paillettes Necklace, $74, made of vintage paillettes (sequins), snake vertebrae bones, carved horn bead and gold-plated pyramids strung on a silver serpentine chain.

Photography courtesy of Little Feather SF

Snap Judgment: Oh Snap Necklace

Scene, Not Herd's Oh Snap Necklace

Our very-visual, (almost) chatter-free snap judgment of the day: the shutterfly-friendly hand-stamped charm and antique brass chain of  the Oh Snap Camera Necklace, $27, from San Francisco designer Holly Doden’s Scene, Not Herd line. She’ll even personalize a charm just for you.

The charm's flip side calls out a familiar phrase.

Photography courtesy of Scene, Not Herd

Jewelry Sale at Conifer

Through Nov. 5, Cow Hollow boutique Conifer is offering 30 percent off its collection of jewelry by independent designers such as Wendy Nichol, Katie Diamond, Wendy Mink, Ishi and DLC Brooklyn.

More San Francisco shopping deals