August 2, 2014

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 Boutiika.com 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.”

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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

We Came, We Saw, We Shopped: Holiday Indie Mart

Kelly Malone of Indie Mart and The Bold Italic combined powers just before the holidays for a special edition of Indie Mart that, not surprisingly, turned out to be a festive shopping occasion packed with Bay Area-produced clothing, yummy holiday treats, a crop of recycled cardboard trees to take home and decorate and a “Dirty Santa” for photo opps.

On the scene were merry shoppers and party-goers packed into the brand new Bold Italic office space on 34 Page Street to celebrate the fresh digs and pick up last-minute gifts. As often happens at Indie Mart events, a fun time was had by all.

Here are some of our favorite locally-made products from the evening:

Handmade leather bags by Hawke + Carry, handpainted by calligraphy artist Aoi Yamaguchi

The hip, 2011 version of Lisa Frank: cute little notebooks from Studio Nico.

Casa Murriguez's top seller of the night: Deliciously scented 100 percent lavander sachets.

Delectable treats from Black Jet Baking Co.

Dostoevsky Wooden Stencil by The Lamplighters. Use as a stencil or hang on the wall as art.

Locally made from organic ingredients, soap and soy candles (the wax becomes massage oil) by Heliotrope.

Recyclable and reusable cardboard Christmas trees that you decorate yourself from The Arbory.

More San Francisco local designers

Photography courtesy of SF Indie Fashion

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

We Came, We Saw, We Shopped: City Dolls

Stepping into Space Gallery for the City Dolls trunk show to do a little holiday shopping was like stepping into an alternate universe, thanks to an art installation by Bunny Reiss and Monica Canilao (en route to the SF MOMA) composed of quilts, lace, branches and collected items ranging from dream catchers to paper cutouts. The overall effect: a gallery with a romantic, bohemian vibe. Oh, and sweet unique finds from local designers and artists.

An amazing art installation by Bunny Reiss and Monica Canilao was a centerpiece of the event.

Gathered at the Polk street space to spread holiday cheer and handcrafted gifts alongside chow provided by Whiskey Commons Street Food and spiked hot ciders were a number of California artists and designers, including Siri Hanson Jewelry, The Loin, Christine Mayrina Jewelry, K.M. Knits, Olivous Retro Jewelry, Stolen Sunday, Paulina Carcach Handbags, Black Pyramid Vintage, Anisa Esmail Jewelry, Phoenix the Fox, Amour Vert and Dear Mina Jewelry.

During our chat at the trunk show, City Dolls founder Kirsten Incorvaia told me she wanted to, “create a place for people to shop that wasn’t about the hectic holiday pressure… a fun and friendly environment unlike the impersonal malls” of the world. The event on Saturday night was the second-ever City Dolls trunk show.

Read on for a few of my favorite items at the show:

Christine Mayrina is a jewelry collector who sources her vintage and antique jewelry from a list of places that ranges from the American Southwest to Turkey for a collection with a bold, international vibe.

Statement necklaces, antique cocktail rings and belly-dancer bangles from the Christine Mayrina Jewelry collection.

Dear Mina, a handmade jewelry line by Mina Caragay, is both modern and primitive, hard and soft, solid and fluid. Her pieces are made with crystals, semi-precious stones, rock specimens, metals and textiles, and fun touches like skull beads and arrowheads happily marry the sophisticated with the quirky.

Jewelry by Dear Mina

Shop or design your own purse with a visit to Paulina Carcach, who has has been personally designing unique and handcrafted handbags since 2008. In luxuriously soft leather with thoughtful details, her bags are affordable and well-made. You can design your own bag on her website and get inspiration from bags in her shop and from previous collections.

Gorgeous handcrafted leather bags by Paulina Carcach (photograph courtesy Paulina Carcach)

Inspired by nature, Siri Hanson's whimsical jewelry line.

Siri Hanson Jewelry is a San Francisco local who creates her handmade pieces from such various materials as clay, rolled bits of magazine paper, metal work, and strips of leather reclaimed from a pair of gloves found at an estate sale. In addition to her line of funky jewelry, she also had on display some handmade ceramic Christmas tree ornaments.

Photography by Alexandra Naughton

More San Francisco local designers

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

Six Local & Stunning Holiday Party Dresses

Need a holiday party dress? A fun little number for your next big night out? The perfect sparkly, festive, fun thing to don on New Year’s? We’ve picked six party dresses we’d wear in snap. All hail from independent San Francisco sources and are available for sale over the webby-web.

Don the Celeste dress by Kirribilla in black lace with scooped back, gathered bell sleeves, and a statement bow, and you’re sure to turn heads at your next event:

The front is sophisticated, with sleeves and a defined waist.

The back has a big bow for added drama

Make a statement with sequin-covered shoulders and a bombshell silhouette with the Vintage 80′s Trophy Dress from Gravel Ghost Vintage. P.S. the back is open, and the shoulders are padded for even more head-turning impact.

Embellished shoulders and a knee-grazing length stand out in this vintage 80's number from Gravel Ghost Vintage.

Sometimes, when you know you’re about to get loose, you want to dress loose. Amour Vert’s Wendy dress (you knew we were going to throw in an animal print option, le duh) is sassy, eco-friendly and will also let you dance to your heart’s content. We’re thinking big heels and a fitted, cropped jacket would round out this holiday look.

The Wendy dress will let you dance, eat and flounce around the party to your heart's content, thanks to its free-flowing shape and empire styling.

Brighten up the room in this red Alyssa Nicole Cut-Out dress with open shoulders, a gathered skirt and scoop neck. Plus, it comes fully lined and is handmade:

This party dress is made-to-order by a local designer.

The fun and versatile Monaco dress by Eliza Parker is a dressy way to do comfortable stretch jersey. The neckline is also begging for an amazing statement necklace from one of your favorite local jewelry designers.

The Monoco dress by Eliza Parker has a flattering neckline, three-quarter sleeves and also comes in black and burgundy.

Ruffle some feathers (in the best way possible) with the Sierra dress from LHC Couture. With its sweetheart neckline, body-hugging fit and real feather detail, we think it’s festive done with an avant-garde twist. Also, the styling possibilities are fairly endless. We can see this one dressed up with sparkling accessories and soft makeup for the girlie girls or paired with dark tights, huge heels and smoky eyes for a result that’s much more glam-goth.

You'll flock to the Sierra dress by LHC Couture. Hip-level feathers are do avant-garde in a festive way.

More San Francisco local designers

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