Remember When

Style Rewind: Seattle Designers, Seattle Shopping, and the Looks that Shaped 2013

Totokaelo Man, Zara, Aykut Ozen, Mark Mitchell, Faris, Michael Cepress, Lovecitylove, Seattle fashion photography, and dozens of other people, places, and things that defined our year.

By Laura Cassidy January 2, 2014

We wore a lot of black and white prints, we mixed them with mad florals, and for every pair of heels there were two pairs of high tops. And still the New York Times says grunge lingers on.

Let's look back at the Seattle designers, shopkeepers, and style-setters who mattered most in 2013.

More of this, please: Seattle's Maiden Noir at Totokaelo Man. (In other words: we love seeing Seattle brands in Seattle's top stores.)

The story of year in this category has to be the March debut of Totokaelo Man, which makes the immense and immaculate Cap Hill spot a sort of high-style one-stop-shop. Story-within-a-story? We love that Totokaelo Man's offerings include the Seattle line Maiden Noir. That's a mini-trend—worthy Seattle designers in the best internationally sourced Seattle shops—we can totally get down with.

And owing to a certain on-going saga, we already know what will likely be the big event in this space a year from now. We had the scoop about Zara's Seattle arrival back on January 24, and again a few weeks ago when we revealed Zara's Westlake opening date: February 14.

How will the fast-fashion giant affect the neighborhood, and the city? We're counting on you to keep it real. Indulge away—please! Zara's spot-on when it comes to trendspotting, but remember your local shopkeepers, people.

(Oh, and will the Seattle Uniqlo thing finally move from rumored-story to story-story this year? Who knows. Frankly, we're a little over it.)

In the smaller store/smaller story vein, there was Jonathan Adler, Scotch and Soda, and Aritizia in U Village, E. Smith Mercantile, Glasswing, Antonio, Rivet and Sway, Hammer and Awl (hey that's news; a mens accessories shop), more Top Shop, District Fabric, Intermix and Max Mara at Bellevue Square, and more.

There were remodels and moves, too; Baby and Co., Barneys, Lucky Dry Goods, the Bauhaus building retailers, Ada's Technical Books, and Ann Sacks and Gary Manuel in SLU to name a few.

And there was Blackbird Apothecary, which came out strong in the scent scene, and then Nicole Miller surprised everyone in early July by saying she was closing all her retail fronts to focus on her wholesale business. And then she proved it over the holiday season by showing up in all the best popups with her incense, soap, and candles.

We also said adios to Liave, Bitters Co, Davenport (just, like, two shakes after the sister-shop of Hitchcock Madrona opened), City Kitchens, Sway and Cake, and Capitol Hill vintage in general.

And while it was weird, and disheartening, to see those last two—Kaleidoscope Vision and In Commune— shutter, it was quite a year for vintage overall; collections like Tyranny and Mutation and Dada reupped their games, and stores like Glasswing and Baby and Co added curated vintage offerings—most notably from the aforementioned Tyranny and Mutation and Tatermedalion, an exclusive European-sourced, vaguely off-the-radar situation dealing in so-old-they're-antiques workwear and peasant chic.

Viva le high/low, old/new modern mix. So Seattle.

And let me just say: in years past, we detailed far more closings and far fewer notable openings. I'm no economist, but I do feel like we're making our way back.

Let's get this one out of the way: Macklemore at the VMAs in gear by former Seattleite Logan Neitzel, and Mary Lambert in locally customized Hourglass shoes. Pacific Northwest realness.

But in terms of local shows, the coolest trend is a crossing over of design and art; Anna Telcs' the Dowsing, Mark Mitchell's Burial, and Adria Garcia of Indian Summer, who, together with partner Sarah Kavage braided nature for the second year running. All of these explored the body, adornment, costume, and creation. And all came down to amazingly skilled local artisans showing their hands.

It was also a year of big fashion-related shows in the art world—from Out of Fashion at the Henry and Fashion-y at Bumbershoot to the Fortuny show at BAM and Future Beauty at SAM. Let's not forget that Seattle was the first American city to host Future Beauty.

Art and style merged in 2013, as with Adria Garcia and Sarah Kavage, who braided nature.

In terms of straight up runway stuff, Michael Cepress gets a special round of applaus for staging, hosting, and charmingly reveling in the success of his runway theater, American Dreaming at the Century Ballroom. Incredibly impressive and inspiring. Bravo.

It was a good year for runways in general; Downtown Seattle Rocks the Runway, Product Runway, the Independent Designer Runway Show (IDRS), and Nordstrom's annual Designer Preview.

Self-taught Turkish leatherwear artisan Aykut Ozen sort of killed it at IDRS this year—which was hard to do, because this year's show was a dizzying array of real talent. We profiled the top seven or so pieces in our December issue; each of the designers featured there, and really, all of the designers in the show, are well-worth a watchful eye. And your sartorial investments.

If Aykut Ozen and Michael Cepress are Designers of the Year (and yes, they are), then Faris Du Graf and Rachel Ravitch get our votes for Top Accessories Designers of 2013. If you spot a female without a spot of bold, brassy yellow or elegantly knotted leather from one or the other accenting their look, you can be pretty sure they're not a local. (Do stop and point them in the direction of where they can shop to look like one.)

2013 seemed to absolutely take local fashion and accessories design and run with them. April Pride, Sarah Loertscher, Scout, Emeka Alam's GCTC, Silvae of the Woods, Ampersand as Apostrophe, Le Notre, Joanna Morgan, Neon Zinn, and Jenny Fort's Lu line all made notable debuts, drops, and progress.

Jenny Fort's 2014 debut, Lu, is a collection of memorable but dependable basics. Expect it to become a household name (in stylish households, that is) in 2014.

Image: AJ Ragasa

If we awarded a Person of the Year kind of thing, it might go to Lucien Pelligrin at Lovecitylove who opened his mixed-use space to local designers and shopkeepers on numerous occassions, creating a sort of rotating popup thing that was electrically social, actually chic, and successful in terms of real dollars and cents. As when those Tarboo bags debuted, or when Glasswing, E. Smith, et al crowded in on that gorgeous pre-summer weekend when it seemed like everything beautiful in the world was happening in on that specific point of the Pike/Pine corridor. Or when, most recently, he moved the whole operation post-Bauhaus demo and staged Closed Circuit with Jessica Carter—which, not coincidentally, has been extended through January 18.

And if we named someone in Seattle style a Person to Watch? That'd be Clara Berg at MOHAI, who lectured on the OG of Seattle style, John Doyle Bishop in March, and who, when we tagged along to witness Davora Lindner donated some early Prairie Underground pieces to the museum's permanent collection, whispered some exciting thoughts about bringing the immense and awesome wardrobe archives out of the back rooms and into the institute's grand gallery rooms. Let's do this, MOHAI.

This year, Nordstrom brought NYC fashion insider Olivia Kim in for the role of special projects director, and among her initiatives was a series of pop-ins—curated shop-in-shops filled with exclusive products and one-of-a-kind content from around the world. The shopping experiences feel fresh and new, particularly within the framework of this very traditional department store. Yes to this and we look forward to more, and, well, we not-so-secretly harbor the hope that local makers and designers will be featured within the local giant's small seasonal shops sometime soon.

And whoa. Photographers. A look at 2013 wouldn't be complete without shouting out the new and refreshed talent in the fashion photography scene. Elizabeth Rudge, Carmen Daneshmandi, Andrew J.S., Megumi Arai, Josie Simonet, Robin Stein, Fiona Pepe, AJ Ragasa, Avi Loud, Michael Clinard, April Brimer, Charlie Schuck, Kyle Johnson, street style shooter, stylist, and Seattle Met contributor Kirby Calvin (aka Kirby Ellis), and others we're sure to be kick ourselves about later brought a skilled reflection of Seattle style to top retail brands, indie and international publications, social media, and more this year. We're so inspired by their lenscrafting that we're going to undertake a new effort to share their features on Shop Talk in 2014. Look for them—here and elsewhere.

(Here's where I would probably say something about you being the Photographer of the Year—you know, selfie being the Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year and all, but ... nah.)

We had some cool visitors this year, too. Mary Katrantzou and Ottavio Missoni at the Bellevue Square Nordstrom? Each was totally worth the drive. Rachel Comey at Totokaelo gave us an excuse to examine our bedding (and wonder about other's) and Simon Doonan is always a good time. And what about Raekwon at Alive and Well? I mean, that was something, right?

We had some top-notch visitors this year, among them Ottavio Missoni at Bellevue Square Nordstrom.

Of course we're not in a vaccum here in the Emerald, and what happens globally reverberates locally. The tragic apparel industry deaths in Bangledesh were, some would argue, The Story of 2013. If you're wearing a sweater that cost $9.99 and was purchased inside a multi-floor trend den, chances are good that you have a direct connection to that horrible event—or to the kinds of enviornments that could yield similar ones. I'm not saying that with judgement. (See prior Zara comments.) I'm just saying that if globalization, fast-fashion, and the need-factory of retail don't factor into your thoughts about style, you're doing it wrong.


In closing, I just want to repeat some of the sentiments I expressed at this year's Screen Style panel at Northwest Film Forum: it's easy to forget that Seattle hasn't always been a food town. It hasn't even always been a music town. Nor has it always been a tech town. Those scenes were built—in bubbles, in small bursts, on purpose, and completely on accident.

And so it will be with the fashion and style scene. We're building it. It's becoming. Sometimes because we put that intention into it, and sometimes because we're not paying attention at all, but rather, just going about our day doing what we do, beautifully.

Either way—both ways—I very much believe that we are building something here. And I can't wait to see what you do next.


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