comfortable change

Hitchcock Madrona Elevates Sweatshirt Style

Reinvention comes naturally to this neighborhood favorite.

By Chelsea Lin February 2, 2021

The changes Hitchcock Madrona has undergone over the last 15 years—four locations, more than 10 different looks for the showroom, countless collections of wearable art pieces—is more of a constant evolution than a single pivot. Owners (and cousins) Erica Nelson-Sheehan and Dustin Nelson tire of redundancy, which is why many of the items of jewelry, clothing, and accessories they sell are one-of-a-kind pieces, whether Hitchcock originals or from other artists. "If we lose our spark, our product will, too—the store will, too," Nelson-Sheehan says.

Through the pandemic, the jewel box of a shop has retained its spark by leaning into what keeps the owners engaged and what resonates most with their local clientele: bespoke jewelry pieces and upcycled articles of clothing that don't sacrifice comfort for style. Nelson-Sheehan is a couture chameleon, equally at home in Carhart overalls over cowboy boots as in designer vintage dresses accented with a tiara (follow the store's Instagram account for OOTD inspiration).

Travel has always been a source of inspiration for the pair. They called their annual globe-trotting excursions "isolation trips," a name that now holds a whole new meaning. On one such excursion, they started analyzing a shirt Nelson-Sheehan really loved and why it was so special. They came back and started playing around with customizing men's shirts—shortening the hems, sewing in cuffed sleeves and popped collars—and embellishing Champion sweatshirts with panels of plaid, Japanese floral prints, or vintage toile. The one-of-a-kind designs found their way into the store but were a small part of the overall vibe until the pandemic hit.

In March, when quarantine productivity still sounded romantic and travel was no longer on the table, Nelson started sewing: a dozen sweatshirts each week for those first two months. For a pair that say they've never been driven by commerce, they happened to come across the perfect idea at the perfect time: "Little did we know that a year [after we started making the sweatshirts], everyone would be living in their sweats," Nelson-Sheehan says.

Changes have come on the jewelry side of things, too; Hitchcock will no longer stock other artists' designs (aside from the occasional trunk show), and instead will double down on the line of classics they've been building, like wide cuffs, mixed metal floating hearts necklaces, and druzy cocktail rings. In addition to these simple, easily giftable pieces, the duo hope to expand the side of the business they've been most excited about all along: working with clients to create custom jewels, whether making them from scratch or reinventing heirlooms.

Nelson-Sheehan says the pandemic untethered her from the demands of keeping regular hours at the shop, freeing her to work more closely with clients who reached out with specific needs—a custom engagement ring, a repurposing of Grandma's favorite brooch, or a commemorative pendant for a lost pet. She admits it's been a hard year, but “I came to the realization that this is what I’ve always wanted, I was just afraid to ask," she says.

In early February, just in time to celebrate their 15th year in business, Nelson and Nelson-Sheehan will unveil an entirely new showroom—a fun project they take on every year or two, when they tire of looking at the last one, that involves complete renovation of the space down to the paint color and overall theme. The unveiling will come with drop-in weekend hours as well as appointments and consultations. Nelson-Sheehan won't share the theme yet, but past themes have been inspired by 1960s NASA, blue-and-white Delft china, and Scandinavian ice caves—to name just a few.

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