For sisters Marie and Karen Potesta, launching their own fashion label was a lifelong ambition. They first realized their love for fashion while watching their grandparents work as respective dress and shoemakers. Now, drawing on years of industry experience and an impressive roster of graduate degrees, the duo owns Micaela Greg – a small women’s knitwear label based in San Francisco.
Though the thought of knitwear conjures up images of thick cable knit jumpers, Micaela Greg is not relegated to sweaters. They produce lightweight tops, flowing dresses, and even leggings that span all four seasons. Yet regardless of the garment, the allure of their collections lies in their handiwork.
Continuing our ongoing series of guest posts, I am thrilled to share a feature written by Sadie Beaudet, co-founder of women’s shirting label Tradlands. In our conversations over the past couple months, I’ve come to greatly respect her involvement in the design and fashion community. Sadie has a great sense of style, but an even stronger penchant for quality. Follow along as she hones in on the creative energy that surrounds the Tradlands studio in the nearby Sunset District of San Francisco, California:
Looking down Judah towards the Ocean
I have been grateful to call San Francisco home for the last 5 years. Since moving here I started my company, Tradlands, with my fiancée Jeremy. Our goods are designed from our Nob Hill workshop and crafted in downtown San Francisco. The energy of SF and its community influences my life and work everyday. But when I am looking for a deep inspiration, the kind that leaves me ready start our next line, I head further west to the Sunset District.
There was a time when the Sunset District was ignored in guidebooks. Bordered in the North by Golden Gate Park and in the West by Ocean Beach, it’s one of the foggiest neighborhoods in San Francisco. It’s also my favorite hood. One day spent amongst the shops and drinking too much coffee gives me motivation and material for months to come. It’s the people, the ocean, and the community.
Outside Trouble Coffee & General Store
The Sunset is the largest neighborhood in the city and it’s one of the only places I can get lost. Set away from the central historic district of San Francisco and the trendy – yet lovely – crowd in Hayes Valley, it’s the kind of place you can become a regular at the coffee shop. Pastel-colored family homes line the rolling hills of the expansive district. With the skyrocketing price of real estate in the city not many neighborhoods feel quite as homey.
It was endearing for about ten minutes in the 90’s, but marketing “boyfriend” shirts to women is ridiculous. Let’s face it, if you pull a shirt out of your boyfriend’s closet and it fits perfectly, you are either a dynamic duo or he buys women’s clothes. Not a big deal either way, but it’s worth bringing to light the fact that women have to borrow button-ups from men (even if only by name).
So with that out of the way, I’d like to introduce Tradlands – a newly launched fashion label out of San Francisco that handcrafts button-up shirts exclusively for women.
Perhaps I’m biased as a fellow woodworker and board sport enthusiast, but the custom made surfboards, skateboards, and handplanes by Hess Surfboards are absolutely stunning examples of contemporary craftsmanship. Operating out of a small studio in San Francisco, Danny Hess is devoted to handcrafting unique boards that are not only gorgeous, but are built to the demanding performance standards of a well-seasoned rider.
In any given deck, Hess uses a variety of different wood species. Partially due to its availability in the Bay Area, he often uses locally sourced Redwood, Fir, Cedar, and Walnut. These species are inherently beautiful, but are also at the heart of what Hess calls “Full Wood Technology” which lessens the amount of fiberglass needed to craft a single board. Given that fiberglass can be harmful to both the maker and our environment, opting for salvaged wood is a mutually beneficial solution. It makes for a really beautiful board to boot.
All my interest aside, nothing beats hearing an artist speak about their own work – be sure to check out a great short on Hess Surfboards below!
Meet Your Shaper: Danny Hess from Mollusk Surf Shop on Vimeo.
When thinking about the sourdough bread, the SFMOMA, and Beach Blanket Babylon, it’s hard to figure out a way to make San Francisco any better. At least that was up until I stumbled on a well-known local treasure.
General Store – Assortment of Goods & Wares
General Store, run by Serena Mitnik-Miller and Mason St. Peter, is a small shop that houses pretty much anything one could want, need, or justify for daily life. Given the store’s interest in supporting artisans, I was thrilled to find a large number of handmade items throughout their inventory – many of which come straight out of the studios of craftspeople who reside locally in the Bay Area.
Though it’s worth taking a moment to check out the store on your own, I decided to curate a small list of my six favorite handmade goods from General Store. While scrolling through, be sure to visit the artists’ own websites when available!
Hand Carved Wooden Spoons – Jon Shade
Handwoven Textural Scarves – Lookout Wonderland
Hanging Ceramic Planter – Collaboration between Kat Hutter & Roger Lee
Wooden Cutting Boards – Luke Bartels
Sixteen Barrettes – Sioux Tribe Members
Tooled Leather Coasters – Commune Design
If you ever find yourself in the San Francisco or Venice area, be sure to drop in for a visit. Because their goods are procured from vintage sources and contemporary studios, there is always something new to discover!
When the team at Taylor Stitch creates a new collection, they are inspired by a certain theme. For Spring/Summer ‘12, the label released a limited series of shirts embodying the ocean as understood through traditional Japanese patterns. The line is composed of four pieces, which each feature a different print in variations of indigo and white. Though the kanoko (“dappled”), sazanami (“ripple”), ariso (“rough seashore”), & shizuku (“trickle”) patterns all originated in Japan, the shirts are cut and sewn in the US with great attention to detail. Like all of their readymades, the Indigo Summer prints are crafted with single needle construction, refined with French seams, and adorned with sustainably harvested horn buttons.
Be sure to check out detailed images of each shirt in the gallery below. You can find more information about Taylor Stitch on their website – including an in depth look at their custom tailored shirt service.
- Kanoko Cuff Detail
- Shizuku Cuff Detail
Joshu + Vela is an emerging outfit in San Francisco which produces some of the most carefully considered bags and leather goods out there. While their mantra is to “highlight the beauty of function by creating simple and well made goods,” one would only need to interact directly with any of their products to understand the emphasis they place on quality. Though I wasn’t able to make the trip out, my cousin Rebecca was lucky enough to meet with Noah of Joshu + Vela in their studio to gain some insights into their brand and their process, which she detailed below:
Joshu + Vela – In the Studio
One way of characterizing the brand as a whole is the idea of intimacy. Everything in their studio is made entirely by hand with the best materials available. In addition to custom-cast hardware and vegetable dyes, they source domestically grown organic cotton from Herbert Rice Fabrics Inc in NY, which has been in operation since the 1800’s. The manufacturing process relies on pharmaceutical grade waxes and oils for finishing, and thus is completely free of hazardous solvents. Similarly, they source 100% vegetable dyed leather from animals already marked for consumption in an effort to reduce their environmental footprint.
When it comes to producing their goods, the team at Joshu + Vela employs a plethora of different hand tools, eight vintage sewing machines, and an 80 year-old rivet setter. This reliance on antiquated machinery demonstrates that the underlying concern of the brand as a whole is not maximizing output, but creating small quantities of goods, which can endure the tests of time.
Joshu + Vela – Backpack & Large Tote
Although their line features a variety of different pieces, the entire collection is aligned by simple aesthetics and utilitarian designs. Branding is kept to a minimum and unnecessary lines are kept at bay. All in all, everything is clean and classic, but ultimately built to be used.
Be sure to take a gander though the gallery below to check out some of their collection and some glimpses into their workspace. Also, stay up to date on their upcoming releases by periodically visiting their website.
- Joshu + Vela - Large Tote
- Joshu + Vela - In the Studio
- Joshu + Vela - Market Tote
- Joshu + Vela - Backpack & Large Tote
- Joshu + Vela - Vintage Sewing Machine
- Joshu + Vela - Navy Backpack