Neon, floral and stripes oh my! All photos via lookbook.nu. Collage by Christy Khoshaba.

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.

Christy Khoshaba

An enthusiast for all things culture, Christy looks for journalistic inspiration in ethnic art galleries and in graffitied alleyways. When she’s not people watching at the BART stations, she’s deciphering...

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11 Comments

  1. This is simply an amazing blog entry. And the collage is well – incredible. You write and you do college??? I am blown away!! My favorite blog posting about fashion I have seen in the past ten years. Love, love ,love it!!

  2. “They don’t want to be like everybody else” would you please, please,please spare us, you are all as individual and original as a strip mall in the suburban hellholes you all originate from.

    Everything you guys do is appropriated and smacks of lilly white, safe suburbia, nothing daring or original about it. You’ll see the same god awful style in Williamsburg or in any of the other colonies you have established and where you people have displaced working class and lower income families.

    I really hope the comment from the first commenter Tima was tongue in cheek and it went over the author’s head. God help us if it wasn’t!!

  3. Re the Navajo sections: I’m nearly speechless at the level of racist ignorance displayed toward American Indians in this article. The Navajo Nation is NOT “a large Native American territory with a tribe”- it is Sovereign Nation. Period. And its not a fashion accessory. Christ. I can’t begin to address the issues here. I can’t believe I’ve seen this in Mission Local. I’m going to ask others for help with this.

    1. Tessa: Thank you for your comment. We have corrected the description of the Navajo Nation. We regret the error. Best, Lydia

    2. Here’s some help Tessa; open up your window and scream — the loudest longest scream you can. There. Isn’t that better? Racist ignorance abounds, in the Mission, San Francisco, even in the Navajo Nation, which is, regrettably, not a “sovereign” nation (even on its own official website, the Navajo Nation does not refer to itself as such), no more so than the Salasacans in Ecuador or the Mayans in Guatemala. Maybe you want to redefine sovereign, or maybe the Navajo Nation should be; that doesn’t mean it is. As for the word “Navajo” being appropriated and attached to certain designs by Urban Outfitters, the outrage and lawsuit brought by the Navajo Nation speaks for your speechlessness. Which the writer reported, so I’m not sure I see the problem you have other than feeling an outrage, which I share, at the expropriation of indigenous culture around the world to serve the economic and ideological ends of global capitalism. And even that should be tempered some, as I have worked directly with organizations and cooperatives in South America that energetically export their products, and their culture, to the U.S market, profiting from the exchange both economically and culturally.

      1. Thank you for your comments, Mark. Of course we all know this ignorance exists widely. In spite of the “airwaves” of the internet overflowing with outstanding scholarly, eloquent, patient explanations to educate people. Adrian K’s Native Appropriations and My Culture Is Not a Trend and Racialicious, and etc, etc, etc. And in spite of work to counter this kind of ignorance having gone on for over 500 years in this county. So, no, I’m not suprised. And have written and spoken my own patient responses to same.

        The thing most appalling and unacceptable here is that it’s HERE. ML, a student journalism project, is supposedly a community e-news source for the Mission community. And I mean the entire community, not just the 5 blocks of Valencia this piece of fluff is apparently written for.

        Part of the beauty of this community is that people from multiple cultures, and of any age, across the spectrum from homeless to working class to lower middle class, of varying mobilites. . . can walk down the street and be at home, see people who look like ourselves, marvel at the differences included and welcome here. ML does not welcome all of us.

        Finding blatant support for cultural appropriation of the Native cultures in this country; and ignorance of the sovereign legal status of all Indian Nations in this country, HERE, in this Mission community news source, is like walking into my kitchen and finding the Klan ensconced.

  4. Yikes. This is a joke article, right? Fashion reports are fine – if they’re well written, original, and coherent. This is… not.

    1. H.S. Thank you for you comment. I have to take responsibility as I edited the piece and I have to say, I still like it. But, I can see how the style might be different than what you are normally accustomed to. We’re trying different ways of telling old stories. Best, Lydia

  5. This article is incoherent. And one minute you’re talking about the “label whores” in NY and LA, and the next minute waxing poetic about how Michael Kors and Jil Sander have informed the Mission fashion sense. Frankly, when I walk around the Mission I see a lot of tee shirts and jeans, retro punk, and last year’s yuppie trends recycled via Buffalo Exchange.

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