Creativity and innovation tend to rise when a down economy forces people to make do with less. That creativity has certainly been evident in the way we dress in Seattle. People are hanging on to their clothes a little longer, making investments in timeless, higher-quality pieces, and hitting consignment stores and vintage shops with the wave of retro-chic yet to crest. In some cases, as with the winners of our annual Seamless in Seattle fashion designer contest, people are even making their own clothes. All of which has created the perfect scenario for making 2010 the year Seattle truly developed a sense of style.
That Seattle even has style has long been a topic of debate among locals. I will never forget my first winter here. I arrived in 1997, expecting what I had seen in Nirvana videos and movies like Singles: a city of flannel-wearing hipster rockers. Instead, what I saw was a lot of really bad fleece-and-Teva ensembles and, when the rainy season came, shapeless, hooded anoraks as far as the eye could see. The very first suggestion that anyone in Seattle had a sense of style came when I first met former KIRO-TV reporter Micki Flowers. I can’t remember why we met, but I do remember that she wore a chic, black belted trench coat with a cool, waterproof rubbery finish, and I thought, “Finally! Someone who knows how to make lemonade from lemons.”
This issue was created to put the question of “Seattle style” to rest once and for all. If the innovative designs of our 2010 crop of winning local fashion talent (page 112) doesn’t convince you we’ve arrived, then maybe the 20 local style icons we feature (page 86) will. We’re no Vogue (nor do we pretend to be), but producing this issue of Seattle mag with 30 pages devoted to fashion and style gave us a little glimpse, beyond the movie The September Issue, into what it’s like to create that annual fashion bible. Assistant editor Kate Calamusa, writer Michelle LaFrance and I spent endless hours scouting locals whose look we loved (sometimes stopping them cold on the street), poring over scores of photos of our stylistas in various outfits, researching where they shop, and debating the virtues and pitfalls of clogs—all in the name of what makes good local fashion.
What I love most about our discoveries is that Seattle is not a one-note style town. Many cities have their “look”—New York has its legendary all-black uniform; Los Angeles the Uggs, sundresses and oversized sunglasses thing. But Seattle has become a melting pot of fashion, where you can be just as at home in black leather jacket, kicky boots and chunky jewelry as you can in, well, fleece.
Seattle’s telling a fashion story all over again—thankfully, this time sans
P.S. There are more style stories to tell than we could fit in a single issue, so we’ve decided to feature a different local style icon whose look we love every month. Know someone who has a great look? Post a picture on our Facebook page at facebook.com/seattlemag.