October 21, 2014

Style + Tech: ModCloth Snags Velvet Brigade, Launches Cool Design Contest

In style + tech news: San Francisco-based ModCloth announced yesterday that it has acquired Velvet Brigade, a company that caught our eye earlier this year with its cool crowdsourcing platform for emerging fashion designers. So what does this mean for you – and for independent fashion?

Now that ModCloth has hired the team behind Velvet Brigade, i.e. co-founders Lindsay McConnon and Jena Wang, the independent fashion juggernaut is going to incorporate the startup’s fashion design contests into its own offerings and bring a more targeted social media push to the competition.

For those interested in style and technology, what it means is that the Velvet Brigade co-founders were on to something: crowdsourced fashion is definitely a trend to continue watching. The trick, of course, will be getting enough people to submit designs and actively promote them via social media for the contests to have a meaningful level of participation.

But given ModCloth’s popularity and avid fan base (they’ve got 400,000 Facebook fans and counting), we’re optimistic about the potential for success here – and actual sales of items designed based on submitted sketches.

If you’re an aspiring designer, you can submit a sketch of a design based on ModCloth founder Susan’s moodboard above. She’ll pick her favorites, which will then be voted on via Facebook. The designers behind the five winning sketches will win $500, see the design produced and sold on ModCloth and have their names printed on the labels. Complete contest details are here.

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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

Party Seen: Carrots 4th Anniversary Celebration

Sisters Melissa and Catie Grimm, who co-own CARROTS, celebrate the boutique's 4th anniversary

Ultra-chic boutique CARROTS, nestled in San Francisco’s posh Jackson Square neighborhood, celebrated its 4th birthday last Thursday evening and drew a crowd of uber-stylish San Franciscans, among them the evening’s hosts Taylor of Sterling Style, Samantha Rudd & Kendall Asmuth of Sequin Harvest, Erin Hiemstra of Apartment 34 and Caitlin of Sacramento Street. Read on for pics and detes from the night’s festivities.

Hosts Erin of Apartment34 and Caitlin of Sacramento Street strike poses in pairs of sweet sunnies.

Sam and Kendall of Sequin Harvest ventured into the City for the night from Napa to co-host the event and, of course, shop.

Taylor of Sterling Style

It’s no surprise that it was a working celebration for owner’s Catie and Melissa Grimm, as family, friends, shoppers and some of the city’s most style-savvy fashion bloggers such as Heather of Heather in a Candy Shop, Tara of Wonder Girl, Britt & Whit of Britt + Whit and Krystal of This Time Tomorrow oohed and ahhed over the boutique’s seemingly endless supply of lust-worthy goods. Needless to say, it was impossible to walk out the door without something on.

Party-goers take a break from shopping to catch up on the latest and dish

Josh of the Bon Vivants concocts one of many specialty cocktails served during the event.

Scott and Josh of  The Bon Vivants were busy behind the bar, where they speedily mixed up a few of their deadly delicious specialty cocktails (Pilgrim Punch, the Potrero Buck and the El Rio, to name a few) to keep guests going strong as they perused the merch.

Party-goers found items from such local designers as Geoffrey Young, Isly handbags by Sobia Shaikh and scarves from Camilla Olson in addition to the  a’bout + CARROTS pop up shop, the Grimm Sisters’ collaboration with designers Dean Hutchinson and Yunchieh Chang of Toronto-based a’bout, whom they have have teamed up with to create an exclusive line.

The party in full-swing

Carrots will no doubt be celebrating its 5th anniversary just as stylishly. If you can’t wait that long to snatch up some goods, and we don’t blame you if you can’t, you can find the Grimm sisters at 843 Montgomery st. San Francisco, Ca 94133.

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Photography courtesy of Colin Day

In Pane Sight: Swankety Swank

Prim and proper dress with pretty print and little white gloves

In the window at Swankety Swank: popping colors, bold blazers, refurbished furniture, trendy housewares and plenty of stylish threads made by local master-craftspeople with the conscious consumer in mind.

Swankety Swank is an artist retail co-op that carries an assortment of locally-made (and reasonably-priced) goods, including Art Furniture by Yabette (founder of Swankety Swank), wearable art by Phoenix Zoellick, Miranda Caroligne’s clothing made from salvaged textiles, deliciously-scented Neives Natural Handmade Bodycare, wild-inspired jewelry by Sexi Seaweed and so much more.

Below, a few quick shots of the shop from our window-stalking adventures.

Clothing for men and women that's handmade by local artisans.

A paint-splattered blazer makes a bold statement.

A modern approach to a 1920s-style hat.

Swankety Swank, located at 289 Divisadero Street, a Panhandle boutique specializing in local, handmade goods.

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

Behind the Shop: Gravel Ghost Vintage

1970's draped maxi dress from Gravel Ghost Vintage

Luscious faux furs, fringed bustiers, pastel high waist shorts and pin-up style rompers are just a few of the retro finds you’ll uncover perusing the online offerings of Gravel Ghost Vintage, a collaborative effort between two vintage lovers, Daniel and Kat, whose boredom with same-old-same-old style led to their very-addictive etsy shop filled with everything from 1950s party girl pieces to 1970s arena rock chic items and 1980s gothic glamor must-haves.

We recently had an email chat with Kat, who let us in on how she got started, what motivates her to thrift and her thoughts on the fashion scene in San Francisco.

We love the eclectic collection of vintage pieces in your store. How do you find the pieces, and what do you look for?

We get our pieces everywhere: estate sales, thrift stores or often from friends. Vintage clothing almost seems to find us! Our buyer specialist, Dawn Hernandez, hunts for vintage throughout the North Bay Area. She has great taste and a knack for finding gorgeous designer vintage. What I keep my eye out for is unique clothing from any era that I would hope inspire women to get out of mediocre fashion ruts.

Your site says that “With a collective upbringing of urban poverty and suburban boredom…” Can you tell me more about that?

My family grew up poor in SoMa in the 80′s, so my mother would tighten her purse strings by taking me thrifting. She really encouraged me to express my individuality and showed me that cool clothes could be accessible without breaking the bank. My boyfriend, Daniel Nolan, photographer for Gravel Ghost Vintage, grew up in the South Bay. With little else left to do on a weekend in the suburbs, he would peruse garage sales looking for old Nikons and KISS albums. Together we ended up with a massive wardrobe, an insane record collection and a creative sensibility, which enables us to do what we do.

When did you start selling vintage? What inspired you to start your own business?

I started selling vintage clothing in 2007. I felt that starting my own business took a natural course, as it seemed that there was a demand for it. I had people stop me and ask, “where did you get that dress!?” Later realizing that I could perhaps quit my mundane day job and provide vintage clothing to seekers of an eclectic wardrobe, like myself!

What do you think of the San Francisco fashion scene?

Although I appreciate the high fashion scene in San Francisco, I definitely gravitate towards a more individual sense of style that derives from personal taste rather than fashion trends. San Franciscans have a diverse style that varies from district to district. The nonconformist approach seems to contradict itself in that most people here have adopted it. The San Franciscans that stand out to me and inspire me the most are those who take ownership of their style because they have the confidence to do so, no matter how the industry thinks you should dress.

What do you see for the future of Gravel Ghost Vintage? Do you plan on expanding, and how?

It would be amazing to see Gravel Ghost Vintage become a brand and perhaps have a storefront some day. My own personal ambition is to become a wardrobe stylist to artists and musicians, since they are the ones who inspire me. We aim to include stand out pieces in our collection, so we are continually striving to pick up sought-after clothing to inspire creative people the way they inspire us.

1980′s black lace blouse with Victorian-meets-Steampunk puff sleeves

More San Francisco vintage

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