Get the Hot Tips on Cool Fashion for 2009
The Stars in Stripe
New store offers a new twist on attire and more
The buzz, which started a few months ago, went something like this: “Have you been to that new store … the one near Pacific Avenue? It’s called Stripe. You have to check it out.” Following Stripe’s March 13 grand opening, the vintage-inspired, modern-influenced, Anthropologie-ish store has seen a lot of foot traffic. And that’s not particularly surprising. With masterful window displays, an indoor children’s tree house structure, vintage clutches, contemporary clothing by sought-after designers, children’s clothing, one-of-a-kind shoes, original jewelry, and so on, it’s no wonder people have been curious about Stripe.
The store is laid out with the eyes of artists—and those artists at the heart of Stripe are owner Suna Lock and retail manager/buyer Dana Norrell. Stripe employs a staff of seven people, who somehow manage to bring in new merchandise practically every day.
A year in the making, the store was Lock’s doing. She owns an interior design business called Stripe Design Group, and with some prompting, she thought it might be an interesting choice to venture into having a retail creative outlet/space to express herself. Along her journey to getting Stripe off the ground, Lock met Norrell, a UC Santa Cruz fine arts major. The two hit it off and combined their flair for fashion with an artistic aesthetic and created Stripe.
The store is a whole lifestyle offering,” Lock says. “It’s a similar idea to Anthropologie but less French country and more mid-century modern with Danish influence. … We try to reinvent the way people see objects. The clothing is modern mixed in with vintage.” And everything is presented as if the store is an art gallery. “We curate it,” Lock says, “almost like an installation. You could buy any piece of it (the store).” She right, even that couch you might sit on to wait for your friend in the waiting room is for sale.
Prices range from a lip gloss for $6 to a sofa for $3,200, to $40 for a dress, to $450 for a handbag, or $20 for a scarf. The women bring in the work of independent designers, and they also find vintage items at places like estate sales. Lock and Norrell say that their customers range in all ages from 16 to 60. In the upcoming months, look for more denim, menswear, plenty of fun soaps, and much more. And keep an eye out, of course, for Stripe.
If the T-shirt Fits
It’s all about ‘T-shirts for change’ for Matt Clevenger
Armed with a burgeoning clothing company and his inexorable enthusiasm, Matt Clevenger is striving to change the world—one T-shirt at a time. Apples and Bandaids, the name of this fresh-faced Santa Cruz resident’s clothing line, donates 50 percent of the proceeds to a San Diego-based non-profit organization that provides nutritional and medical assistance to disadvantaged people living in developing nations. The T-shirts, from cult favorite American Apparel and screen-printed with the Apples and Bandaids name in quirky, colorful font, are available online and will be sold in the Pacific Avenue location of Urban Outfitters in September.
“For a long time I wanted to create a clothing company that was about more than just fashion,” Clevenger says. “So for about a year I was thinking about this new company called Apples and Bandaids. Basically, it provides a way for people to raise money for food and medical supplies for those in third world countries.” Clevenger chalks up the quirky name to endearing childhood memories. “When you’re a kid, bandaids fix everything. Also, my dad’s a dentist and he would always tell me to eat apples to make my teeth stronger. So the name Apples and Bandaids just kind of clicked,” Clevenger says.
In addition to the philanthropic start-up, Clevenger owns and operates his other apparel business called Adoni, which also sells both men’s and women’s T-shirts. “About four years ago, I started printing a few shirts and at first they weren’t that great but people still bought them. Then it just progressed over the years. I always enjoyed fashion and clothes, but I never thought I would own a clothing company,” Clevenger says. His inspiration to create Adoni stemmed from living in Santa Cruz and being a part of the surf culture. “I wanted to create a positive clothing company that focused on simplicity and clean messages,” the young entrepreneur says. In addition to the hip designs created for Adoni by a team of graphic designers (aka Clevenger’s friends), the company also does custom designing and screen-printing for businesses, sports teams and other clients throughout California.
Clevenger explains that when he was a kid, he used to pronounce his name in superhero style, cle-VEN-ger; little did he know that he would grow up to make his own contribution to saving the world. “I think it’s my new passion,” he says.
Find Apples and Bandaids online at applesandbandaids.com, and Adoni online at adoniclothing.com.
Lighting fixture designer creates funky bracelets
Around Christmas time, I popped into a downtown store, on the hunt for the perfect present for a friend. The friend—hip, modern, stylish, quite fashionable—always trying something new and looks like she should be a fashion editor. I needed to find: Just. The. Right. Gift. Maybe jewelry, something local, artsy, totally original, and contemporary. Something no one else would have. And then I found it—a gorgeous 1-inch thick felt bracelet with two vintage buttons on it. It met all the criteria. In fact, I bought a few for other friends as well, and of course, I purchased one for myself. Ever since then, the unprovoked and copious amount of compliments haven’t stopped rolling in, regarding my felt bracelet. I hunted down the creator of my new jewelry— industrial designer Timerie Gordon was the mind behind these vintage-inspired, one-of-a-kind felt bracelets. In her day job, Gordon creates practical designs like a “sneeze bar” at a restaurant, to innovative light fixtures, for businesses and individuals.
To be honest, Gordon admits that these vastly popular bracelets (they nearly sold out at the now defunct Best of Everything), were created on a lark. One day her son and his friends were pretending to be superheroes while playing games together. Gordon made some felt cuffs for the boys, to go with their costumes. After constructing them, she realized that, in fact, they could make stylish bracelets. The felt was handy as it was remnants from a felt lighting fixture design she had created for local hair salon, L’Atelier. “I am always looking to take everyday materials and use them in unexpected ways to create something beautiful and functional,” Gordon says.
“The thing I love about the bracelets … is that they are simple to throw on with a basic outfit, jeans and a T-shirt. And they make your outfit feel a little funkier. One can tell that it is not a mass-produced item, but it doesn’t look too crafty either, because it is industrial felt rather than handmade felt. … I am always looking for accessories that make me a little different without breaking the bank, and I think the people that buy these are looking for the same.”
Timerie Gordon’s bracelets sell for $15-$22. Visit Stripe or Cameron Marks to find them in local stores.
Clothing designer Deanna Bratt uses only recycled fabrics
It’s been estimated that international textile production tops 9.8 million tons annually. A vast portion of that will end up clogging the world’s landfills as unwanted leftovers. This startling statistic struck an intrinsic chord with local fashion designer Deanna Bratt. “I use only recycled fabrics,” Bratt says. “Most of the time I buy stuff from textile mills that go out of business, or maybe the fabric roll will have a run down the entire length—stuff that would otherwise go to landfills or would end up in warehouses. That way, I don’t contribute to any textile pollution. I won’t manufacture the fabric because textiles are really polluting.”
Bratt, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in San Francisco has always had a passion for fashion. “If you include my childhood, I’ve been doing this forever,” Bratt says. “I always really enjoyed dressing up as a kid. Also, my mom was part of this big community group called Hot Trash in Nevada County where I’m from. They put on fashion shows and local people would design garments made from trash. I was really inspired by it,” she says.
A Santa Cruz transplant, Bratt moved here from San Francisco in 2007 because she found our seaside town a great place to start a family. She has also found it an inspiring place in which to continue her clothing label. “I really love it here,” Bratt says. And so it seems, Santa Cruzans love Deanna Bratt. Exclusively sold in Santa Cruz at Westside women’s apparel purveyor Cameron Marks Boutique, Bratt’s retro-chic styles consistently fly off the rack. Bratt attributes the popularity of her clothing to the fact that she attempts to make and sell pieces that many people can wear. “I feel like it’s important to design clothing that fits well, is comfortable and can be dressed up or down. I like timeless fashion, which is to me kind of ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s—A lines and basic bodies that work for everyone,” Bratt says.
In addition to her stance on using solely recycled textiles, Bratt is also dedicated to another good cause. “Right now I’m doing a new style each month where 15 percent of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. I think that people may see the tag and want to buy my clothes because they know that it’s helping people,” Bratt says. Adorable, flattering, local, eco-conscious, cancer fighting clothing? What more could a Santa Cruz style maven ask for?
Cameron Marks will be hosting a Deanna Bratt trunk show from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23. Cameron Marks Boutique, 402 Ingalls St., No. 7, Santa Cruz, 458-3080.
In and Out
One local boutique owners gives GT the scoop on upcoming trends (and what not to wear). Try this on for size …
It’s unarguable that Vanessa Ambrose and Laura Laforce are fashionable women. As co-founders of the store Cameron Marks, located on the Westside of Santa Cruz in the Kelly’s Bakery plaza, the women exude fine style, wearing clothes that are up-and-coming and likewise selling such wares at their store. GT caught up with the women for a projection on future trends and to get the scoop on what not to wear in the upcoming days. Here are a few suggestions:
Slouchy, loose fitting tees
Long, loose fitting boyfriend blazers
Open toe booties
Plaid and check materials
Menswear inspired clothing
80s inspired clothing like jumpsuits
Tight, tight tees
Teeny, micro-fitted jackets
Ultra low-rider jeans
Small, dainty necklaces
Ambrose adds that also “in” for this season are clothes that fall into the following categories: A modern barn spirit; a new take on the pioneer spirit; a good sense of the Shakers; a rough, rebellious chic, not lacking in sensuality; masculine notes; shirttails; carpenter style cropped pants; handkerchief checks; military blanket style wools; cotton laces; flounce trim; purse belts.
In addition, there’s a trend that’s been showing up on the fall runways as being “in,” but Ambrose believes it should really be “out”: Double denim. “Denim jeans and a matching denim jacket—a fall trend that should be labeled as a major faux pas amongst all the wonderful 2009 fall trends,” Ambrose says. “It’s a trend that doesn’t need a comeback in my book.”
Cameron Marks will be carrying many of the new items that are up-and-coming for the fall season, and this year, the chic boutique is upgrading even further with a second store just across the way in the plaza, which will continue to focus on clothing and increase offerings in accessories and shoes.
Fashion forward handbags come to life
An unassuming warehouse off of Mission Street is the last place you’d expect to find a fashion forward handbag company, but such is the case with Big Buddha. A walk through the sprawling stock room is a fashionista’s dream come true. Snakeskin clutches, woven hobos and rainbows of other handbags occupy a sea of boxes waiting to be shipped to national retailers such as Dillard’s, Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor. But as Jeremy Bassan, the company’s 26-year-old owner will tell you, Big Buddha certainly didn’t start out that way. “It’s been a long road, and it started really small.” Bassan says. “I pretty much learned as I went. Design wise, it was really rudimentary in the beginning.”
The company technically started in 2002 when, after graduating from high school, Bassan decided to take a year off and travel the world before beginning his studies at UCSC. “Before I left, my dad suggested that I find something while I was traveling to import back so I could sell it as a part time job while I was in college,” Bassan explains. “I had my eyes open and I knew I needed to find something that was lightweight, that couldn’t really break and that was practical to send home.” Eventually, Bassan’s travels led him to see the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, China. “There’s a road that lines the entrance that’s full of tourist shops,” he says. “A lot of them have these little silk bags hanging and they caught my eye. I liked the material, they were lightweight, they were all one size and I hadn’t seen them anywhere else so I thought they were probably made locally.” After inquiring with one of the shopkeepers, he was pleasantly surprised to discover that the manufacturer was a family that lived only minutes away. He immediately placed an order for 300 bags, which he shipped home and sold to boutiques in Santa Barbara where he is from. The silk bags were a smashing success, and Bassan ended up placing additional orders. Eventually, Bassan learned enough about handbags that he began to assist with the designs and confidently chose a broader selection of fabrics—thus the Big Buddha of today was born.
Since its humble beginnings, Big Buddha has grown to include 26 employees and a network of over 3,000 boutiques that sell the trendy brand nationwide. Big Buddha is even found internationally in cities across Europe and Asia. Bassan attributes the success of Big Buddha to a simple strategy. “We create fun and casual handbags that retail for $100 or less,” he says. With orders streaming in and new collections consistently on the drawing board, the strategy seems to be working out nicely.
For more information, visit ebigbuddha.com.
Galla Cabana’s former owner finds a ‘twist’ in fashion
For years, it was a lingerie and active wear staple—Galla Cabana, the store was just a few doors down from Bunny’s. But, eventually it closed its doors, much to the disappointment of frequent customers. Now in its spot is a new ‘twist’ on the old store. Lara Marotta, a Brazilian Santa Cruzan, who was the former owner of Galla Cabana, is now serving up new, used, and consignment clothing, shoes, and purses at her latest venture, Twist.
Realizing that she may have unearthed a favorable niche in this twisted economy, Marotta just opened the doors to her new store, and she boasts an affordable price point, with the majority of the items in the store selling for around $30. Many of Galla Cabana’s former customers are bringing Marotta their high-end clothes. She puts them up for sale, and gives the previous owners 50 percent of the earnings. This sales approach also taps into Marotta’s desire to be environmentally minded and tap into the ‘green’ concept of giving clothing a second body to adorn. This, in turn, explains the name of her store, “Twist.” “It’s the idea for people to bring their clothes here,” Marotta says. “Someone doesn’t wear their clothes anymore and [the clothes] become something spectacular for someone else.”
She also features new clothing, designs by locals, and ongoing art shows on the walls by local artists. This is the type of place where you can find a pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans at a killer price, or a vintage bag at a jaw-dropping deal. For someone on a budget, or anyone who has been hit by economical blues, Twist might enable you to remain a fashionista, and still feel financially savvy about it.
“The biggest idea behind Twist is to be a co-op business that gets artists together,” Marotta says.
The store is easy to navigate, unlike other typical consignment stores. Everything is laid out simply, and Marotta is on hand most of the time to assist customers in finding sizes. Most importantly, you’re ensured that you won’t overspend, and just maybe, you’ll walk out a twisted customer.
Twist is located at 1364 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz.
Mark the calendar—MichaelAngelo art gallery preps for its annual fashion show
Santa Cruz doesn’t exactly conjure up images of high fashion. In fact, our reputation has preceded us as a town in possession of no fashion sense at all. Whether or not this is entirely true, in the past few years Santa Cruz has been experiencing a sort of style metamorphosis. Though still donned by some, fleece vests, Birkenstocks and tattered surf T-shirts are fading blessedly into the past, and tailoring, non-flip flops as footwear and an overall sense of caring for one’s appearance is finally taking their place. Although not statistically proven, it is highly likely that this transformation may have something to do with the annual fashionART Runway Show presented by the MichaelAngelo Gallery.
This, the fourth annual fashionART Runway Show is an honest to goodness fashion show—seemingly transported from a chic hub such as New York or Paris—that fantastically merges high-end fashion and wearable art into an almost theatrical performance. Local designers and artists, through the arduous efforts of over 100 volunteers, present a showcase of unique, ready to wear pieces as well as a parade of wearable sculptures that infuse the show with a whimsical flair. Professional choreography, music, lighting, hair and makeup ensure that the lanky models strutting down the catwalk look as poised and fierce as if they were gracing the pages of Vogue. As if that weren’t enough to lure in the unsuspecting fashionistas of Santa Cruz, a silent auction and drawing will be held during the event with all proceeds benefiting Los Amigos de Los Ninos of California— a non-profit children’s literacy organization.
Pre-fashion show trunk sale from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fashion as footwear at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. For more information, visit michaelangelogallery.net/fashionartrunwayshow.
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