Seattle New Style
Seattle is having its very own fashion moment. With retail giants like Nordstrom and Amazon.com calling Seattle home, the world is changing the way it views the style scene in the city. Gone are the days when Seattle was best known for its music scene, flannel shirts and the “grunge look”. Today Seattle is thriving with retailers doing business across the country and around the globe. The independent designer scene is showing promising signs of growth and local boutiques are doing business around the world thanks to e-commerce sites that make shopping online easy and accessible. A recent boom in Seattle-based online retailers like Zulily, Blue Nile, and Bag, Borrow or Steal has also contributed to the growth of the industry. Last month, Seattle-based fashion app, Ador launched a shoppable fashion magazine that lets users browse head-to-toe looks and shop similar styles from their favorite brands and retailers. The beauty industry in the Pacific Northwest is also thriving with brands including Butter London and Julep receiving international exposure and press.Nordstrom has been one of the most visible retailers based out of Seattle, but there are many other noteworthy retailers that also call Seattle home including Tommy Bahama, REI, Bag, Borrow or Steal, Dolce Vita Footwear and Zumiez. Other Seattle-based retailers include:
Seattle-based retailer highlights
• According to Women’s Wear Daily, analysts project that Nordstrom will post sales of
$12.6 billion this year, including e-commerce, full line stores, Nordstrom Rack and HauteLook.com.
• Last year Nordstrom took it’s first step in going international with the opening of 4 full line stores in Canada.
• In September of 2012 Nordstrom rolled out a partnership with British retailer Topshop
• In 2012 Tommy Bahama celebrated its 20th anniversary.
• In addition to U.S. and e-commerce stores, Tommy Bahama also has stores in Macau, Singapore and Hong Kong.
• Estimated sales for Tommy Bahama in 2012 = $600 million.
• Amazon has an active shopper base of 188 million.
• In 2012 the company posted totalsales of $61 billion dollars.
• Last year Amazon opened up a 40,000 square foot studio in Brooklyn to do fashion photoshoots.
• In October of 2012 Amazon.com
unveiled sites dedicated to selling prestige beauty products for men
• REI is a consumer cooperative that outfits outdoor enthusiasts.
Its active member base is over 5.1 million.
• REI has over 130 stores in 32 states.
• In 2012 the company generated $1.93 billion in sales. Zumiez
• The retailer operates 503 Zumiez stores in the U.S.A., 22 in Canada and 6 stores in Europe since it’s acquisition of Austria-based retailer Blue Tomato in 2012.
• Zumiez experienced sales of $669.4 million in 2012.
The Local style scene
The number of fashion industry companies based in Seattle has also increased the growth rate of industry organizations like Fashion Group International. Seattle’s Chapter of Fashion Group International has experienced record growth in 2012 and now has over 90 members on its roster with new members joining each week. Companies represented include Seattle magazine, Seattle Metropolitan magazine, Gray magazine, Nordstrom, Ex Officio, 24 SevenTalent, Eddie Bauer, REI, Tomboy Exchange and Luly Yang. There has also been a surge in the number of independent designers seeking the support of Fashion Group International as they launch collections for the first time. In addition to the common obstacles new designers face such lack of funding and limited access to production, independent designers also struggle to seek out professional platforms that will get their lines in front of prospective buyers. In 2012 Seattle’s chapter of Fashion Group International launched a new initiative designed to support emerging designers by showcasing top talent in a professionally produced Independent Designer Runway Showcase. The group partnered with The Bellevue Collection to add the showcase to the existing infrastructure of Bellevue Fashion Week and worked with the management team to set up the criteria for designer participation. A total of eight designers were selected to participate and as one of the perks of participation, the designers had the opportunity to meet with the judging panel once a month for a period of six-months prior to the show. This gave them the opportunity to refine their collections and thoughtfully edit their work with the support of industry veteran’s who could offer advice and insight on how to best develop their lines. The winner of the inaugural showcase and cash prize was leather and fur designer Carole McClellan.
Pictured Above: One of Carole McClellan’s signature designs going down the runway
In 2013 the Independent Designer Runway Showcase increased in popularity and emerging designers flocked to Fashion Group International when it announced an open call for entries. Over forty emerging designers applied and after a lengthy interview process the top ten applicants were chosen to participate. The caliber of talent among this year’s designers was incredible and the showcase was the first ticketed Bellevue Fashion Week event to sellout. It was a steady indication that there is a genuine excitement in the community about the Independent designers who are living and working in the city. It also helped these Independent designers get in front of new customers, connect with potential retailers, meet local boutique owners and participate in a larger discussion about the state of the fashion industry in Seattle. Instead of picking just one winner, the judging panel surprised the audience by naming designer Aykut Ozen as the grand prize winner and naming designers Paychi Guh and Erin Roby as runners up. All winning designers received cash prizes to help grow their businesses, courtesy of a fashion fund raised by Fashion Group International and The Bellevue Collection.
Pictured above: Looks from winning designers Aykut Ozen, Paychi Guh and Erin Roby
Independent designers are now being embraced by the city and businesses are working to find new ways to support them by creating opportunities to help increase their exposure. For example, Seattlebased eyewear start-up Rivet & Sway recently chose designer Paychi Guh to serve as a guest stylist and curate a collection of products that fell under the theme “Everyday Indulgences”. The set was featured in a dedicated blog post on the Rivet &Sway site, shared on social media and included in a weekly e-blast to the company’s mailing list. The W Seattle also recently launched an initiative to support emerging designers with the introduction of the “Wear Wednesdays” fashion series that features designers, boutiques and retailers in the city. In August they kicked off the series with a showcase of independent designers from Seattle magazine’s Seamless in Seattle contest.
Although “Shop Local” campaigns have given a boost to local boutiques, Seattle-based retailers face the same challenges as boutiques around the world. Foot traffic patterns are erratic, deep discounts and promotional sales no longer motivate customers to come in, social media messages are diluted in online “noise”, the shelf life of product continues to decline, and the competition from online retailers is fierce. Seattle retailer Butch Blum will be celebrating it’s 40th anniversary next year and but still relies on traditional client books and foot traffic to meet daily sales goals because it has no e-commerce presence. To entice customers to come in and shop, Butch Blum hosts regularly scheduled trunk shows and in a recent move to appeal to a young demographic, the company announced a partnership with Seattle designer Cameron Levin for an exclusive Spring ’14 capsule collection. On the flip side, Seattle boutique Totokaelo relies heavily on it’s e-commerce website to reach a larger audience and continue doing business outside of traditional business hours. The company even expanded its product offerings earlier this year to include apparel and accessories for men.
One noteworthy platform for local designers is Craft & Culture, a site dedicated to showcasing independent designers from around the world. The company also hosts offline events to encourage the fashion community to meet indie designers and experience their collections in person. Seattle shopping is often segmented into various neighborhoods because outside of the city there are no traditional shopping “streets” but rather, entire neighborhoods that house shops you can visit on a shopping excursion. Noteworthy shopping destinations in the Seattle area include Capitol Hill, which is best known for it’s a laidback, hipster vibe, Ballard, which is home to a variety of independent boutiques that showcase local fashion, Fremont, which has several boutiques within easy walking distance of each other that all carry an assortment of hard to find labels, Queen Anne which is home to a mix of fashion and home interior stores, and Bellevue which is located on Seattle’s Eastside and home to high end boutiques that stock designer labels.
Current key items for area boutiques including outerwear jackets with hoods, ankle boots with low heels, apparel with leather panels or accents, sheer cashmere knit sweaters, minimalist-inspired accessories and cross-body bags.
5 -MUST VISIT SEATTLE BOUTIQUES
# 1- Located on Seattle’s eastside David Lawrence carries apparel and accessories for men and women from brands like Versace,
Here Leger, Viktor & Rolf, Hugo Boss and more. Next year the boutique will be celebrating it’s 20th anniversary. In 2013 David Lawrence opened up an e-boutique on FarFetch.com with a limited assortment of product. 700 110th Ave. N.E. Bellevue, WA98004
# 2- Mario’s has been a staple in Seattle’s style scene for over 30 years. Known for it’s superior customer service and luxury brand assortment, Mario’s regularly stocks labels like Alexander McQueen, Etro, Lanvin, Prada, Isabel Marant and Oscar de la Renta. Centrally located in Downtown Seattle, Mario’s regularly outfits pro athletes and their wives and also hosts regular designer trunk shows.1513 Sixth Ave. Seattle, WA 98101
# 3- Often referred to as Belltown’s hidden gem, Karan Dannenberg Clothier has been wardrobing women with apparel and accessories to fit their lifestyle since 1997. Featured brands including Creenstone, Nicole Miller, Yoana Baraschi, SW3 and Rock Star Jewelry. 2232 First Ave. Seattle, WA 98121
# 4- Baby & Co. opened its doors in 1978 as the brainchild of Baby and Uri Burstyn. Known for carrying fashion forward brands before they hit the mainstream, Baby & Co. stocks brands like Frank and Lu, Elemente Clemente, Malene Birger and Yoshi Kondo. Curren owners Jill & Wayne Donnelly use the streets of Paris, Copenhagen, and other fashion capitols around the globe to search for trailblazing designers whose commitment to quality and creativity match their own. 1936 First Ave. Seattle, WA 98121
# 5- Located on top of Queen Anne hill, Queen Anne Dispatch has everything a girl in the city could possibly want including apparel, accessories, shoes, handbags, greeting cards, lingerie, nail polish and even lingerie. Featured brands include Toms, French Connection,
Hanky Panky, Butter London, Mavi, Bleulab Denim and more. 2212 Queen Anne Ave. N. Seattle, WA 98119
STREET STYLE IN THE CITY
1. Seattle’s Society Girl is taking the style scene by storm this year. After unveiling her identity in the summer of 2013, Julia’s following swelled to over 29k followers on Twitter and 10k followers on Instagram. Julia posts daily outfit inspirations, essential items and random musings on her blog www.societygrlsblog.com. She recently partnered with the Seattle Seahawks on a fall fashion shoot featuring Seahawks apparel and accessories for women.
2. Jess Estrada’s lifestyle blog FreshJess.com was founded in 2008 and covers a variety of content including local events, style profiles and food. Jess has worked with numerous brands and companies to produce social media content and regularly contributes to the Independent Fashion Bloggers community. Jess has over 8k followers on Twitter and www.freshjess.com
3. Mollie Ruiz-Hopper is the sweet voice behind Mollie in Seattle.com. She regularly blogs about fashion and philanthropy and encourages readers to find stylish ways to give back. With over 6k followers on Twitter and 800+ fans on Facebook she is an influential voice in the Seattle fashion community and recently partnered with Neiman Marcus CUSP to host a fall fashion event at The Bravern. www.mollieinseattle.com
STREET STYLE IN THE CITY
4. New to the scene, Katrina of The Demure Muse blogs about personal style and works to incorporate a few of her favorite hobbies such as jewelry making, cooking, baking and beauty. She has over 800+ followers on Twitter and has a modest 200 fans on Facebook. www.thedemuremuse.com5. Cassandra Lavalle incorporates her background in marketing, event design and visual merchandising into her lifestyle blog Coco + Kelley. In addition to blogging Cassandra also does interior styling, wedding design, in-store visual merchandising and content creation for online and print. She has more than 21k followers on Twitter and more than 17k fans on Facebook. www.cocokelley.com
5. Cassandra Lavalle incorporates her background in marketing, event design and visual merchandising into her lifestyle blog Coco + Kelley. In addition to blogging Cassandra also does interior styling, wedding design, in-store visual merchandising and content creation for online and print. She has more than 21k followers on Twitter and more than 17k fans on Facebook. www.cocokelley.com
6. Sydney Mintle of Seattle Boutique Blogspot has been covering the local style scene since 2008. Her site covers local designers, boutiques and fashion events and her blog has been recognized by Seattle magazine, 425 magazine, Seattle Picks and The Guardian UK. Sydney has given talks about fashion blogging and the art of social media at events for The Art Institute of Seattle, Fashion Group International and CRAVE Seattle. www.seattleboutiqueblogspot.com
SEATTLE FASHION TAKE-AWAYS
• The fashion industry in Seattle is thriving. Brick-and-mortar retailers, e-commerce companies, and independent fashion start-ups are all experiencing positive growth.
• Companies that are based out of Seattle are looking for ways to continue expanding their store presence in the U.S. and find suitable outlets to introduce their business overseas.
• E-Commerce is a major part of the Seattle fashion scene. Sites like Craft & Culture help indie designers branch out to reach new markets, while sites like Zulily.com and Blue Nile.com conduct 100% of their operations online.
• Fashion Group International has been instrumental in connecting the Seattle fashion community by providing industry professionals
with adequate platforms to network and connect.
• Independent designers in the city are thriving. New opportunities for exposure and an increase in community support are contributing factors to the creative movement the city is currently experiencing.
• The future of the Seattle fashion scene is dependant on successful collaborations. Retailers partnering with style bloggers on events, boutiques showcasing independent
designers, and larger companies working to leverage their resources to showcase local talent are all examples of successful collaborations we’ve seen most recently in Seattle.
• The Seattle market is digitally savvy. Most consumers in the Seattle market shop online, use social media platforms, and use shopping apps to make their shopping experience easier and more enjoyable.