We all fall victim to the lure of the department store or glossy magazine-endorsed makes and in the quest to look like an A-Lister, it is often easy to assume that one needs to focus on having a wardrobe full of designer labels. But ‘brand’ does not always equate to ‘beauty’. In fact, some of the worst outfits I’ve ever seen have been those endorsed by A-List designers – the double insult in this case is that not only does the innocent fashion victim look completely ridiculous but they spent a lot of money for the privilege of doing so!
Now I don’t like to be a Debbie-downer BUT we are in the midst of an economic crisis. So these days, not only do I try to be a little more conservative with HOW I spend my cash but I similarly try to be more mindful of WHERE I spend it. Like most, my brain does not get started without a jolt of caffeine in the morning but let’s face it, Starbucks needs my $3 a lot less than the ‘Ma and Pa’ coffee shop down the street. Likewise, the $100 I might spend on a sweater or dress is better appreciated by a local, new designer than Donatella Versace (I don’t even think a hundred bucks would cover the cost of a wine glass on her St Tropez yacht!). As I’ve said before - I’m no die-hard fashionista. But, I do like to keep abreast of what’s going on in the fashion world and there’s nothing more that I love than hearing a buzz about a new label and being able to boast that I was one of the in-the-know few that got to don their designs “months ago”! Come on, don’t leave me hanging - we all like to feel a little smug every now and again…….right?!
Like New York, LA and many others……San Francisco is undisputedly a wonderfully creative city. Whether it be music, fashion or food, there is always a hot new name or label in the mix. Sadly over the last couple of months we’ve seen a lot of our favorite little spots go out of business and that’s why it’s of paramount importance that we do what we can to support our local merchants. What’s more, most of their prices won’t outrage your overdraft so it’s win-win!!
One of my favorite San Fran stores is Shotwell. Now I’ve got to be honest, I had the privilege of getting to know the two owners, Holly and Michael, when they got married at the Great American Music Hall last year – so I would probably have a loyalty to them regardless. However, when I finally went to check out their Union Square store – I was blown away. Not only is the store itself visually beautiful – the intricate attention to detail is incredible – but I was delighted to see that they stock a large selection of local San Francisco designers and their price points are, as Juliette Lewis would say, speaking my language, baby! I recently was given a gift from there of Heathen’s ‘bitty box necklace’ (pictured below) –sooooooo cute! I love it! And I love the fact that it was made by a local SF-er and sold by a local SF-er like myself! Shotwell also carries other local designer labels including Vanessa Gade, Sea Pony and Official Tourist and at the end of the day, I would much rather that my $$ could help build both the business of a local designer AND that of a local store owner too. We’ve all given Mr. Macy and Mr. Bloomingdale their fair share of our salary over the years – so why not focus on trying to spend it where it will really be appreciated??
Another of my favorite San Fran hotspots that showcases literally hundreds of local artists is Collage Gallery in Potrero Hill. A self-described home decor store and art gallery - this shop is quite literally full to the brim of little surprises. I have lost many an afternoon exploring every little nook and cranny of this extraordinary store. If you’re looking to give your living abode a little love then look no further – home décor items range from a selection of vintage numbers and letters to old typewriters, hand-blown glassware, revamped antiques and prints. Some of my favorite locally designed jewelry includes both delicate gemstone pieces and other more unique designs made from vintage buttons, typewriter keys, scrabble letters etc – and I’ve certainly never seen anything over the $100 mark. It truly is an Aladdin’s cave of treasures and what’s more, it certainly won’t break the bank balance.
Now I know I just spent all day yesterday bending your ears about Marshalls and Nordstrom Rack and don’t get me wrong – sad but true, these are some of my favorite place in the WORLD!! Nonetheless, I do think it’s important to give back and support our community. And it sure doesn’t hurt that you (and your apartment) can end up looking fabuless while doing so……..;)
WHERE TO GO?? Shotwell, 320 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108
Collage Gallery, 1345 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107