May 30, 2015

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...

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

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.

More San Francisco fashion news

Photography courtesy of Colin Day

Behind the Shop: Babette Pinsky

Owner and designer Babette Pinsky

Veteran fashion designer Babette Pinsky has made quite the name for herself in San Francisco and beyond since launching her line in 1968 and becoming known for the array of artfully-crafted pleated coats and polished, yet relaxed separates available in her Babette boutiques. Now her success is going beyond the style realm. Named by The San Francisco Business Times as one of the 100 Top Women Owned Businesses in the Bay Area this year, Pinsky has a new book out – and lots to say about the fashion industry. Read on for our recent chat with this San Francisco entrepreneur.

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York where she majored in coats and suits, Pinsky has made it a point not to follow popular trends, but instead to opt for wearable women’s pieces featuring Babette’s signature pleats. Her formula has proven such a success that Babette now has 8 stores open nationwide in 7 different states, though she continues to produce her line in her expansive West Oakland factory. San Franciscans can view her collections at her Sutter Street boutique in downtown San Francisco.

Now, after 40+ years in the fashion biz, Pinsky recently self-published her book, Babette – Designing a Vision, and was tapped as one of the 100 Top Women Owned Businesses in the Bay Area by The San Francisco Business Times.

Pinsky took a break from her hectic day-to-day to give us the scoop on how Babette Inc. came to be, her journey to get where she is today, her love of art and what every San Francisco woman should have in her closet.

Babette store, on Sutter St in downtown San Francisco

Store interior

Pieces from Babette Fall 2011 Collection

Pieces from Babette Fall 2011 Collection

How did you get your start in the fashion industry?

I always wanted to work fashion. It was the only thing ever wanted to do, so it was an easy and obvious decision. I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and after school got one job after another and even worked in Europe for a while. I eventually came to the West Coast and got a real fashion job as a coat designer, which was what I specialized in at FIT. I worked for four years designing coats and square dance dresses, which was what my boss and the owner designed. Then, in 1968 I opened my own store and started my own line.

 How does it feel to be a part of the 100 Top Women Owned Businesses in the Bay Area? Can you tell us a little bit about the journey to get here?

Well, great, of course. There is no question about that. Although I never really thought of myself as a women-owned business. I just went into business because it was I what I wanted to do. I worked hard at it, and it continued to evolve and I just did it and didn’t think anything of it. As I went along I did notice certain advantages to being a woman that have helped Babette evolve into what I have now, such as people are willing to buy from you first. I am really proud of what I have created.

 What kind of woman wears items from Babette? Can you describe her?

We always keep her in mind. She is about 45-years-old, works and has a family. She loves to travel for work and for pleasure. She is probably a professional woman and is married to another professional, successful person. She enjoys going to art museums, the movies and dinners as forms of entertainment. She is generally in the middle to upper income bracket. She is of an average figure, typically size 8-10, not too tall and not too short. She is definitely someone who has a little bit of an artistic bent and is not afraid of making a statement. She is simple, but quite artistic. She is not a wallflower and is not afraid of being seen and being complimented on her clothes.

What are you inspired by when creating pieces for your line? Do you look to anything in particular for inspiration?

Design is an evolutionary process….For me part of the process of design as it changes and evolves is maintaining a sense of style but changing things so that they are new and different. With each new collection I draw inspiration from previous collections, but I like to change, recreate and reinvent with color direction, texture, theme and create something else that is completely altogether new on top of it.

What are your favorite fabrics to work with?

That is an ever changing thing for me right now. I am currently very interested in working with soft, drapey and liquidy fabrics. Not chiffony, but fabrics that are slow when you move, that almost create a feeling of water. That is what I am interested now, but that doesn’t mean I will be tomorrow.

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

I am very much like the woman I describe who wears my clothing. There is a big emphasis on art in my life. I enjoy art exhibits and art galleries. My husband and I collect art and, wherever we travel, to we like to see what is going on in the local art scene and look for special pieces to add to our collection. That is usually what gets us most excited, other than our work. And of course, going to dinner, spending time with friends and going to the movies.

How would you describe the Babette aesthetic? 

As far as the stores, the collection and the advertising, it all goes together. We try to keep the stores very simple and let the clothes tell the story….In my displays, I almost always don’t add accessories. I really like the clothes to speak for themselves. In my collections, I use a lot of texture and pleating.

What are three things every San Francisco woman should have in her closet right now?

A pair of great jeans are a must. As far as from my own collection, I think a classic pleated white shirt is a great staple, as well as some kind of fabulous and interesting coat or jacket.  Not a suit jacket, but a coat or jacket that has color, detail and texture. One that is versatile and can go over jeans, black pants, just about anything.

What new and exciting things are you working on at Babette?

Right now I am working on next Fall 2012 collection, which will come about about a year from now. That is really where my mind is at. As far as the business side of things, we are in a sort of holding pattern, at a cross roads in growth. It is reflective time, which feels really good.

Photography courtesy of Babette

Good Gov’t: Mayor Lee Launches FashionSF

Mayor Ed Lee tours the Cayson Culinary Designs facility on Oct. 25 (image via flickr)

Who says San Francisco doesn’t care about style? Even the Mayor’s office is getting behind the local fashion industry with the launch of FashionSF, a new program that’s part of  the City’s Start Here, Grow Here, Stay Here economic development initiative.

Introduced on October 26 at longtime local manufacturer Cayson Culinary Designs in the Bayview by Mayor Ed Lee, District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen and local fashion industry executives, the program dedicates city staff and resources to supporting the growth and retention of apparel companies operating in San Francisco.

You don’t need us to tell you that San Francisco has a rich history in fashion and garment manufacturing. Along with major labels such as Levi’s and Gap, there are many smaller companies producing garments within city limits. (For more on that, check out our recent coverage of SJ Manufacturing, a SoMa-based company that works with many local start-up apparel lines.)

But while there are many fashion designers and manufacturing companies based in San Francisco, Mayor Lee thinks there could be far more:

“FashionSF brings together the private sector, educational institutions and the City to work towards a singular goal – to make San Francisco the preeminent location for fashion designer and apparel manufacturers,” said Mayor Lee in a statement. “I am committed to ensuring that apparel and design companies of all sizes can start, stay, grow and hire right here in San Francisco, driving job creation for all San Franciscans.”

So what does that all mean, practically speaking? The City will have a dedicated staff position to serve as a central point of contact to the fashion design and apparel manufacturing industry. A committee dubbed The Fashion Working Group and headed up by co-chairs Roger Kase of Isda & Co and Janet Lees of SFMade will guide and provide support for the initiative, while the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) will be collaborating with the Fashion Working Group to pinpoint key industry needs, challenges, opportunities, and develop a Fashion Action Plan to prioritize and address.

“These are exactly they types of businesses we want to attract, support and have grow here in San Francisco,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen in a press release. “These small manufactures hire local residents and invest in our local communities.”

More San Francisco fashion news


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