When we stepped into the eerily-moody, industrial Mi Concept design space yesterday after weeks of piqued curiosity courtesy of straight-jacket-esque garment bags gracing its Sutter Street windows, our first thought upon finally seeing the clothes in person was something along the lines of, where have you been all our lives?
Not only are the made-to-order pieces from the San Francisco- and Toronto-based collective’s launch collection utterly chic in their trend-oblivious minimalism and neutral hues, but they are also items of apparel with substantive below-the-surface appeal (which is the very kind of thing that gets SF Indie Fashion fired up):
- Each piece is custom-made.
- There are no labels on the clothes.
- On some garments, unfinished elements such as rough hems are purposely left that way to reference the imperfection of life (seriously).
- Most pieces have a twist that only reveals itself upon closer inspection. For example, the white coat pictured below can be worn in two ways:
The space is the latest from Dean Hutchinson, whose eponymous store in Laurel Heights closed in 2007 after 16 years in the city. Seeming to border on being almost uncomfortable with the title designer, Hutchinson describes his role in the new venture as creative director and plans to tap local artists, designers, architects and other creative types to help generate both ideas for forthcoming collections and new products to showcase in the Tendernob studio under the Mi name.
Except, of course, that Mi Concept is really about not having a name. As Hutchinson told us:
“I wanted someone to look at you, and say, ‘That’s a really nice shirt you’re wearing. Who is that?’ And I wanted people to be able to say, ‘It’s Mi shirt.’”
Get it? We love a good play on words. And while we think it’s impossible for a line that achieves public recognition to truly escape the burden of a label (even if it’s not on the clothing), we were smitten with the notion of fashion being about the person wearing the clothing and not about the clothing wearing the person.
When it comes to fashion, Hutchinson puts it like this:
“People are complete and whole as they are….In listening to my clients, what they always say to me is, it wasn’t about how they looked, but how they felt. That’s beauty, that’s power.”
If you’re interested in checking out Mi Concept, it’s a good idea to email or call for an appointment first.