For fashion enthusiasts who missed the recent Yerba Buena fashion festival, there’s good news. Miranda Caroligne, threads by Cho-Cho and Jasmin Zorlu are all right in the Mission District.
Mission Local caught up with the designers–three of several independent designers in the Mission.
Dressed in a peach tank that showed a bit of midriff, a free flowing skirt that speaks hippie chic and tough leather combat-like wedged boots Miranda Caroligne shuffled into her boutique on a Sunday afternoon. She was running late from her co-op shop Trunk in Lower Haight. The shop smelled like black cherries and she streamed music on Pandora.
“Here I can do whatever and someone will come in and think it’s cool,” she said, trying to define the differences between her clientele in San Francisco and her Boston where she started her line. There, she said, she had to tone things down to be more wearable for the day to day New England population; something she said “just kills your soul.” Here, clients are interested in her kind of designs; couture and wearable art, she explains.
Caroligne was a physical therapist for four years before a bike accident ended that career. She began creating clothes when friends began asking her to do pieces for them. She said she had been making her own clothes and had always sewn. In November 2005 she opened her first boutique on 14th street near Guerrero. When asked why she chose the Mission District she responded, “Cause it’s cool. It’s still real. I love the vibrancy of the Mission.”
Her ready to wear one of a kind pieces have a hippie chic vibe and can run anywhere between $15 and $200. She is currently working on a new couture collection made from scrap material of other garments. Those items will run upwards to $800, she said, because they take more time to complete.
Nearby Aldea, which carries diffusers, baby clothes, and bathrobes looks like a home goods store; the type of place you could get something to make your home smell nice and look beautiful. But hidden in this treasure is a gem–Threads by Cho-Cho. The threads are wrist stockings designed by Megan Stetson because she wanted long gloves to wear for a classical performance. The opera singer’s design–she’s performed with dozens of opera troupes in the Bay Area-took off after people saw her wearing them. Though singing is her career and first passion, she said designing wasn’t foreign to her.
“I’ve taken an interest in fashion all my life,” she said, adding that a friend helped her to sew her first design.
Threads by Cho-Cho wrist stockings come in a variety of designs and though she sells in mostly women’s stores she has a line for men and for young girls. Stetson said she had a simple vision, playing on the long glove styles of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s but with a modern edge–no fingers. While she has no immediate plans expand, she considers it a nice supplemental income–the wrist bands retail for $65 a pair.
But most designers in the Mission consider fashion their career. Take Jasmin Zorlu located on 18th and Treat Street the studio is a whirlwind of her hat collection.
The small studio–it’s just Zorlu–produces masterpieces made of felt, fish skin leather, and cashmere, with prices ranging from $58 to $450. Though she exhibited from her own line in the Yerba Buena fashion festival, she has been doing a lot of freelance work for other lines.
“I’ve been giving a lot of my energy to these other companies, but now I’ve got to focus on myself,”she said.
A skilled milliner, Zorlu has been in the business for 17 years. Born in Germany and raised in various places in Europe, she moved to the United States at the age of 18, when she attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She designed shoes for Esprit for a short time and did business with Barney’s New York.
Zorlu said her next step would be New York fashion week. There, she said, designs are more avant garde, clients are willing to spend money and take more risks. But she isn’t disloyal to her Bay Area clientele and fellow artists.
“There’s a lot of amazing fashion designers here. Miranda [Caroligne] made some really amazing pieces,” she said. “I like what she is doing.”
That’s part of the reason she said that she buys her clothes from local designers when she has the money. She has been doing just hats for the past year and a half and “breaking even” with expenses. Because of the changing economy a few stores have turned her away, and the felt pieces she often uses increased 30 percent to $18.85 for a piece that makes one hat. She has yet to increase her prices however.
Though Zorlu designed for Cassel Goorin whose collection sells at Barney’s Japan, she still has a long list of designers she would like to work with, and places she would like to sell her goods; including Karl Lagerfeld, Yojhi Yamamoto, Fred Segal, Bergdorf Goodman, Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Chicago.