Looking for original and beautifully made fashion just got easier this Fall. Five exceptional designers are reviving the bespoke clothing movement in San Francisco. They are Myrrhia Resnick, Camelia Skikos, Mahsa Gharahgozli, Jessie Lui and Which Kim and they are building brands that focus on sustainability and mindful practices while also offering unique designs with interesting details, beautiful fabric mixes and stunning craftsmanship.
Why you should know about them. Quality in fashion, is something you recognize at first sight. Even when you can’t see the lines of stitches inside a collar that make it curve perfectly, or see the bias hemmed seams that create flawless fit, you can feel the love and care that has imbued the clothing. Finding designers who can combine great aesthetics with ingenuity and purpose is rare and why these five designers are worthy of being recognized on the international fashion stage.
San Francisco isn’t a city known for fashion like New York and Los Angeles. Words like, perfect fabric mixes, ingenuity, elegance, and refined silhouettes aren’t usually what come to mind when people talk about fashion in the Bay Area. You’re much more likely to hear people talk about Silicon Valley hipsters in jeans and tee shirts who shop at Pladra and Everlain. It’s a fact that pains those of us who live and love it here. It’s a mystery that continues to baffle, given that San Francisco is home to five strong fashion schools and has a long history of garment manufacturing.
The good news is that out of adversity, the city has developed a new direction. It appears the cost and difficulty of producing in the Bay Area has led to the cities greatest strength. Designers here, have abandoned mass manufacturing and focused instead on quality. Given that more and more Millennials are choosing quality in design, San Francisco’s growing bespoke movement my soon put it back on the fashion map.
Myrria Knit Studio
Jewelry by Bobisuthi
Myrrhia Resnick is a passionate knitwear designer, who designs bespoke knitted clothing that is both beautiful and timeless. Knitwear is often an area ignored by fashion. When people think of knits they think of sweaters and tee shirts, not the delicate feminine pointelle dresses or beautifully textured suits that Myrrhia creates. Each piece is designed from the pattern or “fabric” of the knit through the shape. While running Myrrhia Fine Knitwear which she founded in 2010, she consults. She worked with Godley and Peers on the Golden Silk project which used the filaments from 1 million spiders to knit a beautiful golden dress that will soon be on display at the moment. She has also recently found her bliss collaborating with Bolt, an Emeryville based company that has been recently joined by leaders from Nike and gained notice with the addition of Stella McCartney to the board. The company is pioneering new ways to make fabrics from yeast proteins with the hope of eliminating the need for petroleum based materials in fashion. In March, they released a limited edition tie that was woven entirely in their manufactured Spider Silk. Myrrhia sees fashion as “the most intimate art form,” and hopes to be the “antidote for a culture that treats its people and the environment…as disposable.” Clients can enjoy her designs knowing that they have the only version.
F/W 18 Alter Ego Collection
A graduate of the University of Art in Romania Camelia Skikos, who moved to San Francisco in 2003, thinks deeply about the relationships between our bodies, the clothes we wear and how both impact space. While there are other minimalist designers in the world, few manage to incorporate geometry so fluidly and elegantly into their designs with the result that while artsy, her clothes are flattering and eminently wearable. Each piece seems to create an unspoken harmony between the wearer and her environment. Take her Alter Ego collection, which is elegant while also taking risks so as to avoid the expected. A white rectangle dress is softened by oval sleeves, a jumpsuit with clean white lines provokes though with a rectangular chest cut out. Her work reflects a purity of that of great modern painters like Ellsworth Kelly who often inspires her work. It’s the mix of craftsmanship and artistry that has garnered her multiple press mentions from Vogue, WWD, and Elle. In addition to having her own label, she consults and is currently working on Google’s project jacquard.
Wear Mahsa wrap blouse
Wear Mahsa Pants
MAHSA GHARAHGOZLI of WEAR MASA
Mahsa describes herself as an “unrelenting idealist when it comes to design,” and after seeing her clothes first hand, I would have to agree. She is one of the designers in residence with the SF Fashion Incubator, a project of Macy’s aimed at nurturing designers in San Francisco. If you have been experiencing fashion burnout, tired of styles that promise newness but don’t deliver, her line is for you. Her styles are feminine and flattering. Take her Kerri pants. Women swear by them. She manages to bring together flawless cuts, ingenious fabric mixes, and beautifully refined details. This is fashion as it used to be and as it is meant to be.
Jessie Liu’s coats are works of art. They reflect that certain inestimable quality that all finely made clothes give off, that sense of care and substance. Her dresses are alive with bold colors and patterns cut into clean shapes. It’s a combination of boldness and restraint that defines Jessie herself. At once passionate and fearless, she also has razor sharp vision and clarity that she brings to her collections ensuring that each design has perfect balance, nothing more, nothing less. Like many SF designers, her clothes express not just quality but also deep thought into the greater purpose of design itself. Her brand gives a portion of all proceeds to fund art programs in schools and when she shows in New York this Fall for the first time, she will be opening with a film called “We Are All Women.” The film is inspired by “the countless women who overcome societal atrocities,” and their courage.
Blazer and Jacket by Which Kim
DAHAE KIM OF WHICH KIM
The tongue in cheek brand Which Kim by designer Dahae Kim brings crisp construction and intriguing geometric color blocking and exquisite tailoring to menswear in ways that are distinctively different. While the brand touts itself as menswear, the styles are equally wearable for women. Take the Leonardo Coat with it’s ¾ length and cut-away collarless styling in creamy cashmere or asymmetrical hem zip sweater. Each piece is classic with a twist that makes it modern. A graduate of the Academy of Art in San Francisco, she is inspired by “contemporary music and industrial architecture.” The quote on her website goes “don’t try to alter a man’s ego…design for it.” Words many women may take and apply to dating.