Archive for the ‘indie fashion’ Category


Wardrobe Ave $50 Site Credit Giveaway

In Cool Sites,Giveaways,indie fashion on January 7, 2011 by Naoko Takano

Heard of Wardrobe Ave? New on the scene of e-commerce sites selling direct from designers, this growing e-tailer has something for everyone on its pages.

They sell an array of chic and covetable items, all from independent designers, small boutiques and vintage sellers. The platform allows you to shop directly from the designers or shops, and they ship worldwide.

I, for one, am drooling more than a bit over the JANICE white ruffled dress, the the Black Phoebe Wrap, the Silver Cuboctahedron Necklace, and the Tree Branches Chiffon Scarf.

To help ring in the New Year, Wardrobe Ave has graciously partnered with Chic Steals to offer a $50 credit to their site to one lucky winner!

One lucky Chic Steals reader will win a $50 in credits to!

How to Enter


1. Visit and leave a comment on this post telling me what you’d buy if you won. (1 entry)

2. Tweet this giveaway. Leave a SEPARATE comment on this post with the link to your tweet! (tweet as many times as you’d like for additional entries)

However, if you do not keep your additional entry comments separate from your required entry comment, they WILL NOT BE COUNTED.

Giveaway open to anyone in the world!!
Giveaway period is open from today until Sunday, Jan. 16, 11:59 PM PST.

Winner chosen by and notified by email.

Also: Wardrobe Ave is currently running a 20% OFF Coupon Code promotion:

Take 20% off their ENTIRE store using code WARDROBE through now through January 31!

Good luck in the giveaway! and even if you aren’t the lucky winner there’s still that promo to take advantage of!


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Portland Fashion Week Day 2: Seattle Designers, Art Institute Grads, and Catapult Competition

In Fashion Shows,indie fashion,Portland Designers,Portland Fashion Week on November 11, 2010 by Naoko Takano

Backtracking a little bit to last month’s Portland Fashion Week…since I wasn’t able to post coverage immediately afterwards since I was in France sans internet access.

But on the day of – October 7 – I was not able to get any runway shots.

I only was in the lobby and did not receive clearance to shoot the show.  Over-capacity, apparently.  Whatever!  I saw Seth Aaron stumble and jam himself in the crotch with one of those poles holding up the red velvet ropes, which was all worth it.  (Okay, I’ve probably done the same thing too a thousand times.  I hate those ropes!)

So all the photos below are alllllll courtesy of my wonderful friends from OSI Photography (who, by the way, shot all my photos for the America’s Most Stylish Blogger competition last year – if you ever need an awesome, professional photographer – they’re the ones to go to!)

The shows Thursday night were separated into segments; the first, Cardi Wrap by Kymaro.

If you notice – the tops are all the same garment!  The soft, figure-flattering Cardi Wrap can be worn over 50 ways with its coordinating accessories.

Segment 2 housed the Seattle designer shows, with Lizzie Parker, Jesica Milton, and WyattOrr.

Lizzie Parker

Jesica Milton

Wyatt Orr

The Art Institute of Portland Fashion Show was third in the line-up, with designs by J. Calderon, Sophie Chang, Mihaela Munteanu, Melissa Gaynor, and Johanna Lindstrom.

J. Calderon (menswear)

Sophie Chang Bridal

Mihaela Munteanu

Melissa Gaynor
Johanna Lindstrom

 I really want that first silvery-grey jumpsuit.  I have no idea where I’d wear it exactly, but I still really want it.;-)

The fourth and final segment, entitled Catapult, showcased the Emerging Designer Competition Runway Show.

Devonation  Originally hailing from China, Devon Yam Berrong began his career as an artist .  His watercolor pieces have appeared in numerous publications and boutiques – and his debut collection for men and women for Spring/Summer 2011 contained more than 50 pieces.

Anar Couture  The name Anar is the designer’s first name spelled right-to-left as it would be in her native language; Rana Ghezelayagh (“ge-zell-ah-yahk”) was born in Iran and used all Iranian fabric in her first collection.  Many pieces can be worn in multiple ways to expose more or less skin depending on the wearer’s mood – and the lining fabrics were all exquisite and beautifully-colored contrast in contrast to the sleek outers.


Nelli Millard, who showed last year as part of NelliDru designs (and got flak for her “Michaels wedding dress,” “truly awful” website, and serious lack of design taste from the Portland Mercury), showed a collection with Russian-inspired coats, lame-coated dresses and jackets, and a beautifully-detailed crochet top and fringe skirts, showing growth and maturity compared to her last collection.

Catapult Winner Ms Wood, a Portland-based husband-and-wife team, showed a series of chic kimono wrap tops and dresses, accented with walnut, maple, and paduke wood platform shoes and accessories – all reclaimed from cabinet-makers.  The leather was all recycled from old leather jackets.

As the winner of Catapult, Ms. Wood will receive be featured in a full collection show at Portland Fashion Week 2011, a lookbook shoot with models provided by Ryan Artists, photography by Fashion Wire Press NY, and lookbook graphic design and marketing by 24Notion.

 Bracelets, earrings, a hand-mirror, and the wood-platform shoes with recycled leather ties.
 A cabinet piece after it’s been routed and used for Ms. Wood pieces.
The beautiful wrap-tie shoes.
Designers Alicia and Ben Wood. (last 4 photos taken by me)

What do you think?  Any of the designs catch your eye?


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Introducing FashionStake: Democratizing Fashion, Supporting Indie Designers – and a $15 Credit for YOU!

In FashionStake,indie fashion,Members-Only Shopping Sites on November 9, 2010 by Naoko Takano

I have been waiting with baited breath for to launch for the past 6 months!!

Why…what is this website? you may ask.  For one thing, FashionStake offers limited-time flash sales from independent designers.

Another flash sale site??  Why do we need one when we already have Gilt, RueLala, Ideeli, HauteLook, Beyond the Rack…et al??


FashionStake sells next season’s merchandise, not current or last-season items.  Sales are in the form of pre-orders, so the merchandise is already paid for before it is produced.

So why is this an important innovation for struggling designers?
I personally have had my eye on this company for awhile, ever since it was featured in NY Mag’s The Cut back in April of this year.  I’ve been thinking about re-launching my clothing line for some time, but the main obstacle is the high cost of manufacturing – and the fact that you won’t break even on the costs of the sampling, materials, and patternmaking until you’ve produced and sold at least 6-12 pieces.  (Of course this number differs due to differing production costs and differing retail price points…but basically we’re all familiar with the concept that very little money comes back to the designer/creator after all that work has been done, and that a profit isn’t truly made until you’re making multiple, multiple pieces.)  So the eternal question is:

How do you get concrete orders for your line BEFORE committing all that money to manufacturing?

In other words, how do you meet your order minimum to break even (at the very least) before you contract with a manufacturer to produce something like 25-50 garments?

It’s a question of creating demand before creating the product: “pull manufacturing.”  After I created my line back in ’07, there wasn’t enough demand for it where I was…and I had to try and sell what I had on hand, which is infinitely more difficult.  I had lots of money put into actual physical clothing…that didn’t sell.  I still have something like $400 worth of work hanging in a closet right now.

Founder Vivian Weng saw the contradiction inherent to the fashion industry, and the difficulties many designers faced with funding their lines and finding their audience.  Plus by waiting for pieces to hit the retail shelves, as a consumer she saw the “sky-high prices” and felt something amiss.  While at Harvard Business School she teamed up with classmate Daniel Gulati to form FashionStake, a venture they hope will usher in a new era of designer direct fashion.  The website launched in September 2010.

FashionStake aims to “democratize fashion” by holding online “trunk shows” (similar to what Gilt or Ruelala do), with timed flash sales.  BUT….the items for sale are all from emerging designers, and are in the form of pre-orders…so the item is only produced if they’ve met their minimum costsSo much less risky for the designers.

But how is this helpful for the consumers?  

Well, for one, the clothing and jewelry is not marked up for retail – it’s close to wholesale prices (about 40-70% off of what it would fetch at retail).  Plus, it’s next season’s merchandise!  (All the other flash sale sites, including Gilt and Ideeli – are selling last season or current-season merchandiserarely next season – and it’s most usually at the retail price when they do.)  By buying through FashionStake you’re getting in before the crowds, before it even hits the retail stores, before the season has even begun, and placing an order just as the designer is sending their order to the manufacturer.  (Since it’s a pre-order, delivery of the item varies per brand; for some, it can be 2 weeks; for a few, up to 8 weeks.)  

But you’re also helping a designer who didn’t have enough money upfront to produce their line – ensuring that everyone along the chain of supply will get paid (rather than having the designer supply the retail stores with stock, only to have it get returned to them if it doesn’t sell – or have to take out a loan to pay for the manufacturing since the factories require payment upfront).  Each item sold on the site has an undisclosed minimum – the minimum orders the factory needs before they will go into production – so if there aren’t enough orders, the item isn’t produced.  Which means a lot less fashion waste and no unsold items at the end of the season!!

So what brands are having trunk shows at FashionStake?  

Tiny emerging brands whose product quality is still iffy, who may or may not actually make good on the orders they get?  Nope.  Nicholas K, for one, who’s has been showing at New York Fashion Week since 2003.  JUMA, a mainstay in minimalist chic fashion that’s sold in Bendel’s, Harvey Nichols, and BuyDefinition.  Lauren Merkin – I’m sure you’ve heard of her bags, coveted by celebrities and in-the-know women in the know the world over?  Check out what’s coming up on FashionStake:

Upcoming Sales
Nov 10: Raquelle (“Breezy Basics” silk tops)

Nov 12: Mociun (“Art Deco” fine gold jewelry)

Nov 15: JUMA (“Easy Inspiration” jackets and dresses)

Nov 17: Lauren Merkin (the “3-in-1 Louise” clutch)

Nov 19: Bijules – a favorite of Beyonce and Fergie (“Glacons” icicle-inspired jewelry)

Plus, it’s free to join, and by using my personal invite below, your account will automatically be credited $15

And…use exclusive code CHICSTEALSNOV to receive Free Shipping on any order (shipped to a U.S. address) that you place during the month of November!  (For my non-U.S. readers, use the code above and get $5 off shipping to any International address!)  It’s a great way to get a jump on that holiday shopping!

Join Here and Get a $15 Credit


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30 Days of Outfits Challenge: Day 6

In DIY,indie fashion,Outfits on November 6, 2010 by Naoko Takano

Convertible Blouson top: handmade by me.  Rhinestone Friendship Bracelets: handmade by me.  3-strand Hairband: Target.  Rhinestone Studs: Claire’s.  Diamond Wedding Ring: Vintage.  Dark Rinse Skinny Jeans: Paris Blues.  Pointy Suedette Slouch Boots: Payless.

So it’s Day 6 of my 30 Days of Outfits Challenge: November 6.

Today I have to take Lil Tot to a birthday party in Vancouver, WA (about an hour away from where we live).  It’s a party at a place filled with bouncies and activities, and I think that I’m going to have to go in/on some of them to help Lil Tot along.  Thus, I have to wear something that allows for a lot of movement, and have to keep the jewelry minimal.  Plus I have to drive an hour to get there. So, this necessitates a kinda boring outfit.

I made the top out of 3 sweatshirts following the instructions in the book “Kakkoii Couture Remake.”  I adapted the tutorial to Western sizing and changed a bit of the methodology.  Here is my version.  I love the blouson effect to the top – and that it can we worn as a top or a skirt, and upside-down!  (Click the link above to check out how many different ways it can be worn.)

The friendship bracelets I actually made…more than 20 years ago when they were in style!! (I honestly can’t believe it’s been that long since I was in elementary school.  Can it be…?)  I happened to hold onto my friendship bracelets…and guess what!!?!  They’re back in style.  Well, thanks to the brand Frieda & Nellie, who has burst on the scene with a line of friendship bracelets embellished and intertwined with with rhinestones and vintage bracelets.

Just lovely, and such a wonderful update on an old trend! 

I made mine this morning with some of my old bracelets from back in the day, with some bits or rhinestone chain and closures I had sitting around in my jewelry-making drawer.  If you don’t happen to have your own friendship bracelets laying around just begging to be re-used, you can find every. pattern. EVER! for making friendship bracelets here.  (LOVE this site and can’t wait to make some more bracelets following their instructions!!)

My new favorite 3-strand headband from Target.  Love that it has chain in it!  I also added Navana Wig-brand clip-in hair extensions for my long ponytail.

In other news, I have a fabulous treat coming up for you guys soon – in the form of a BRAND-NEW tutorial from someone I really respect – can’t wait to share!

 I think I’m going to have to do some leaf-raking soon!!


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"Inspired" Alert! Catherine Malandrino’s Knit Tribal Legwarmers

In Fashion Morality,indie fashion,Inspiration on October 19, 2010 by Naoko Takano

Seen on the likes of uber-fashion blogger Susie Bubble of Style Bubble, and subsequently covered on, Cooperative Designs‘ S/S 2010 crocheted tribal legwarmers leg-accessory thingies have been making the rounds on the blogosphere for some time.  They’re a pretty distinct look.

 Photo from Style Bubble.

That’s why when images of the Lovin Malandrino S/S 2011 show popped up in my inbox, I did a double-take.

Featured on POSHGLAM last month, here’s what they had to say:

Though Malandrino was inspired by Roger Capron, a French ceramist, her pieces were definite original works of art. Leather macramé was the fabric of choice and the most amazing use of it was the over-the-knee gladiator sandals.

Okay so they’re leather, and stylistically they’re a bit different from the Collective Designs version. But do you see an “inspired” design here??

I do!

As a fashion designer it’s so hard not to be referential.  To be less PC about it, it’s so hard NOT to knock anyone else off.;-)

The art of creating beautiful, wearable pieces to clothe the body has been around for thousands, if not millions of years.  Everything by now has been done before.  Everything is a knockoff in some way, in some element.  Many people cite hte safety pin as being the most widely-used knockoff – originally invented by the Romans, not only is it now a functional staple in your standard sewing kit, but it’s also been “re-imagined” by everyone from Givenchy to Subversive.  And no one’s screaming copyright infringement.

The reason why we laud the designers we do, and await their collections season after season, and are not up in arms about “we’ve seen this from ______ (insert other brand name here) already!!” is because there is copying afoot, but it’s cloaked styled in such a way, reappropriated in such a manner, that it’s not immediately obvious.  That is the hallmark of a truly gifted designer – someone who’s able to take that “inspiration” and recycle it into something that doesn’t tip anyone off to its origins.

Me, I believe in giving credit where credit’s due, and if you’ve created an “inspired” piece that’s obvious upon looking and has enough similarities that you go AHA! (when it comes to defining how similar a piece can be to be called a “knockoff,” in Judge Rehnquist’s words, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it” or the more popular “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it IS a duck!”)…then you need to say “inspired by” at the very least to lay it all out there and be honest about it.

And I truly oppose large, established fashion houses ripping off from the little guys.  You fashion houses are supposed to be the most forward-thinking and setting the trends!  Don’t look back, don’t do what has already been done.  In fact, I oppose designer copying among each other in general (except when it’s a mass-market brand).

Forever 21 distilling Catherine Malandrino to their store shelves?!  No problem!  H&M being “inspired” by Gucci in their designs?  Bring it on!  But Erin Wasson blatantly ripping off Bliss Lau’s body chains or Pamela Love stealing Arms and Armory’s bird skull pendant?  NO!  This is high-fashion (+high-price), non-mass-market, independent designer lifting from smaller, independent designers.  In my book, this is a big no-no!  If you’re bringing fashion to the masses, it stands to reason that you would lift from the established, forward-thinkers.  Mass market fashion is not, by definition, forward-thinking and in fact, knocking off is expected from them.  Everyone deserves a shot at having more affordable “high-fashion Style” brought to them.  I just think companies should credit the original –  and not create EXACT copies, just “similar to” pieces – and even pay a percentage of their sales to the creators of the original item.

In an ideal world!!  😉

So what’s your take on all this?  When, if ever, is copying or creating an “inspired by” creation okay?  Does Catherine Malandrino skate on by?  Or is this just a case of two separate fashion houses producing two separate accessories during the same year that just have a number of similarities by pure coincidence?  Are there enough differences in these legwarmers that it’s no longer “inspired”?  Or does it “LOOK LIKE A DUCK WALK LIKE A DUCK AND TALK LIKE A DUCK?!”


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Project Runway Designers and SethAaron Collection: Portland Fashion Week Day 4

In Cool Brands,indie fashion,Portland Fashion Week,Project Runway on October 12, 2010 by Naoko Takano

Undoubtedly the highlight of the 5 days of shows this year was Saturday night’s show, with the Spring collections from project Runway alums Gordana Gelhausen [Goga by Gordana], Jay Nicolas Sario, and Jonathan Joseph Peters, capped off by the SETHAARON promotional collection sponsored by SolarWorld.

From the start of the night the lobby was packed, the mood expectant and jubilant, the security tighter than anything Portland Fashion Week has seen before.  Onsite at the Vigor Shipyards on Portland’s Swan Island, on a runway constructed entirely of SolarWorld‘s sleek, high-performance photovoltaic solar panels, models local to Portland showcased almost 60 looks from the finalists from Project Runway Seasons 5 & 6.

As the show started (about 40 minutes late), a cheer rose up from the crowd – clapping filled the room as the lights dimmed and the first look from Goga by Gordana walked out.  Breezy, feminine, intricate – and with some woven pieces displaying gorgeous cutwork evocative of her signature lace – the collection was colorful and fun.  Yellows and reds dominated, with a patchwork leather dress and hand-dyed blouson top that received another round of applause.  Girly ruffles and A-line silhouettes evoked all the jubilance of Spring, and the sweet creams and light blues called to mind blue skies and washed coral.

In contrast, Jay Nicolas Sario‘s collection was far more structured, with an overtly military-feel and Jay’s signature cuffs and button-detailing.  Utilizing mostly wools and denims, in a darker color palette of olives and grays, the separates were buttoned-down sex-appeal.  Though a few of the more voluminous pieces struck a discordant note, the tailored jackets and vests, skirts with asymmetrical pockets, and cascading layered denim neckpiece were instantly covetable.

Jonathan Joseph Peters‘ collection was a fun, carefree collection of prints and hand-dyed, hand-distressed fabrics.  With a one-shouldered top with cut-outs (with each cut-out painstakingly done by hand and then heat-sealed, inch by inch!), a gold spangled romper (which, amazingly, was much more beautiful than it sounded), and a leafy tropical-print swing skirt and cardigan, the entire collection evoked a whimsical vacation.  The designer’s attention to detail truly shone through each piece.

Sponsored and inspired by SolarWorld solar panels, Seth Aaron Henderson produced a 15-piece promotional collection for SETHAARON that had the room breathless from the first, and cheering excitedly by the last.  The pieces were futuristic, warrior-inspired, juxtapositions of light and dark, hard and harder.  Tiny details, geometric shapes, and asymmetry made it feel fresh and modern, with black and red vinyl and pops of yellow keeping the palette minimalist and sharp.  With avant-garde headgear encapsulating some of the models’ heads completely, exaggerated silhouettes, skin-baring cut-outs, and mesh overlays, it was certainly fashion with a capital F.  A blouse with billowy sleeves with metal zipper-like detail down the slits and skin-tight vinyl hotpants garnered a round of applause, and by the end people were standing on their seats to see the finale garment, an Transformer-like dress of slick black vinyl (also featured in all the promotional materials for the Collection).

After 2 encores from Seth A. the rest of the designers also came out and did a triumphant walk (or in Jay’s case, a skip, bow, and flourish;-) down the runway with their models.

 Left: Look #1, for the first 3 shows, and Right: Look #2, for the SETHAARON show.

Lead makeup artists Nicolette Z. Gonzales and Austie Eckley (who also makes fabulous couture-style flowered headpieces available for sale in her Etsy shop BTW!) created two makeup looks for the shows: the first, a neutral, fresh look for the models walking in the first three shows, and the second, an edgy look with a bold eye as specifically designed by Seth Aaron himself for use in his own show.

For both looks Nicolette created the complexion, contouring, and eye shadow base, using Boots No7 Intelligent Balance Mousse Foundation.  Austie was in charge of the eyes and sculpted a bold, angular stripe of yellow above a dramatic smokey eye, as directed by Seth.  This look was also the signature look for his entire collection, as featured with his finale piece on the “Solar is the New Black” SolarWorld poster.

All the false lashes used in the shows were applied by lash artist Kimmie Nguyen.

To say the venue was crowded was an understatement. (Every seat filled, two rows of standing, and people jammed in the aisles – it was the biggest audience in the history of PFW.)

Seth Aaron Henderson talking with a fan and signing autographs at the SolarWorld booth just after the show.

Jay Nicolas Sario and two of his models wearing his Collection pieces.

Closeup of Jay’s awesome gauntlet/spat design for Spring.  I want!
Seth Aaron’s brother, Noah Henderson of Headlock Clothing, with Crystal Ewing.

Project Runway Season 6 alum Janeane Marie out to support her fellow designers.

So what’s everyone’s take on the collections?  Any pieces you love?  Or love to hate?


All watermarked photos taken by Brent Barnett, Peter Greene, Bruce Ballard and Joey Stalone of OSI. Thanks, guys for the awesome pics!  All un-watermarked photos taken by me.

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Jonathan Joseph Peters Collection at PFW Showroon

In Cool Brands,indie fashion,Portland Fashion Week,Project Runway on October 9, 2010 by Naoko Takano

Who could this be?  (Okay, my title kind of gave it away…)

If you guys are wondering why I haven’t posted, I’ve been mired in Portland Fashion Week stuff and haven’t caught up just yet.  I have a couple big posts coming up (but I have to sit down and do them) – so they’ll be up soon!

In the meantime, here are some photos I snapped of Project Runway Season 7 Finalist Jonathan Joseph Peters.  For the first time ever in the history of Portland Fashion Week, there was actually a showroom organized so the designers could present their creations to the buyers and press.  (In Portland, there are no official designer showrooms at all!  At least that I know of.  It’s such an independent community here that there just doesn’t seem to be a need for it.)

So I stopped by the showroom – and whaddaya know?  It was Jonathan from Season 7 of Project Runway showing his pieces (that will be coming down the runway tonight in a HUGE Project Runway alum show with Goga by Gordana [of Season 6], Jay Nicolas Sario [Season 7 finalist], and Seth Aaron Henderson [Season 7 Winner]!!)

He is such a sweetie in person – so down-to-earth – and his collection is phenomenal! He said he is particularly drawn to mixing patterns, hand-dyeing, playing with textiles, and layering fabrics – like the spectacular detail at the neck on this top.

Breathtaking cut-work detail (done by HAND, not by lasers – then heat-sealed by HAND.  I just have to write HAND in capitals because it is so rare to see nowadays.)

A skirt in the same vein.

The fabric is a little “melty” around the holes, which adds to its fabulous deconstruction.

 A gorgeous spangled top and the rest of his collection.  Check out the prints!

Being based on the East Coast, he said he was really excited to be able to bring his collection out here to the West Coast and see the reception.  Sewing since he was 10 and producing collections under his own name since 2002, he characterizes his aesthetic as “thoughtful separates with a sense of fun.”

I can’t wait to see it on the runway!

And in the meantime, check out his website below and show the guy some love!

Jonathan Joseph Peters


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