Missionites are snatching this season’s hottest spring styles — loud neons and highlighter hues, plus explosive prints. But they take trends and add a twist. All the while, they invent their own.
Nearly every boutique stylist notices a distinct Mission style, beyond the color and prints. “I can’t put my finger on it, because it’s so individual,” said Alexandra Rigaud, at Minxy Boutique. They wear what they like. They do what they like. “They don’t want to be like everybody else,” said Irené Hernandez-Feiks at SF Wonderland.
Originality in itself is a trend. It’s only fitting in San Francisco, conjuring reminders of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg — the “Screw you, I’ll march to the beat of my own drum” mentality.
That creative spirit can involve hodge-podge. “Mismatching is the new black,” said Desiree Chen at Therapy, blinking her silver-shadowed eyes. The evidence shows. When Dema Grim from DEMA said that mixing color, prints and stripes is chic, she didn’t realize she was clad in a floral blazer, a thick-striped top and bright blue skinny pants.
Á la mode color is as ubiquitous as weed and beer in Dolores Park. Eggplant purple, tomato red and jellybean orange glow in skinny denim and floor-sweeping dresses. Add to that tennis-ball green and fuchsia pink bursting from thin leather belts, crisp satchels and plastic chunky rings.
Even more attention-grabbing are the can’t-be-ignored prints. Girls are scooping up floral on tanks and short shorts for the finest femininity. Guys are opting for ethnic elements, like Navajo-inspired prints on knit sweaters and messenger bags.
Indigenous-inspired prints reign supreme. Artillery-A.G. Gallery boasts Ecuadoran printed bow ties. Latin American prints from Oaxaca and Guatemala also cover their handbags. But if fashion history is any indication, these patterns could be ultra-passé for mainstream fashion within a few seasons.
What’s never passé is traveling in style. Mission girls and guys get that, but as they voyage on BART or bikes, comfort and function also matter. Patterned cross-body bags and flats are all the rage. TOMS shoes are making a mark in every color under the rainbow. Prints, too: camouflage, leopard, striped and polka-dotted.
Like Grim, Missionites have got a knack for nailing all things casual. “They don’t take themselves too seriously,” said Liddy Parlato at Hangr 16. They’re more concerned with a cup of coffee than wearing designer denim, said Rigaud. Or anything designer. “Louis Vuitton bags — nobody wears that.”
Those “label whores” roam New York and Los Angeles. Refined and polished in the Big Apple. Über trendy in the City of Angels. Shades of onyx and silver in oh-la-la Paris. In the Mission, the masses are ditching designer duds and donning a style they’ve picked, refined and made all their own.
But before the mega color trend hit the gum-tacked, broken glass, coffee-ridden streets of the Mission, it made fashion fans jump with joy at Jil Sander. Raf Simons for Jil Sander killed it with a stellar bold collection for the spring 2011 ready-to-wear and menswear collections. Nautical navy, lemon yellow, grassy green — it was all there.
Soon after — as it inevitably would — the trend filtered down to corporate retailers. Forever 21 and H&M were “inspired” by Jil Sander and other vivid spring collections from Prada and Gucci. Plus, GAP recently took note of pigment with its Be Bright campaign featuring colored cords and accessories. Target, too; it’s got a Color Changes Everything campaign, starring clothes and home goodies.
But it looks like Michael Kors had a three-year leap, when he sent models down the runway with head-to-toe glo-stick looks for his Fall 2009 RTW collection. Christopher Kane soon followed with a collection of fluorescent lace dresses and suits for his Spring 2011 RTW.
The introduction of Navajo prints to the masses was Isabel Marant’s brainchild. The casual cool designer made quite a splash when she introduced Navajo print in her Fall 2011 RTW collection, with models sashaying down the runway wearing denim and sweaters featuring the print.
It’s no accident major retailers picked up on the trend. But there has been drama. Urban Outfitters recently began selling Navajo, a line featuring feathered earrings, underwear and flasks emblazoned with the tribal print. Once the line hit stores, the Navajo Nation, a self-governing nation of the Navajo people, was offended and filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement.
Another popular print inspired by indigenous design comes from Central and South American countries like Peru and Ecuador. A similar print is worn in China’s Xinjiang Province, where Uyghur men sport the motif on their hats.
Mission personal style represents its amalgamation of people. Hints of Latin America coupled with pinches of China and a dose of American (Michael Kors) and French (Jil Sander) design make for a distinct recipe only the Mission can boast.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly defined the Navajo Nation.