Skip the mall. What you want to wear this year comes from Portland's boutiques and secondhand stores. At least that's according to Laura Housgard and Nick DePaula, two influential local trendsetters. I spoke to Housgard and DePaula about what's new in women's and men's apparel. They had similar things to say: Big prints are out, subtlety is in. Either buy high-quality designer that will last for years, or buy cheap.
Housgard, who owns downtown's Scandinavian-influenced Johan boutique, has spent most of her life in fashion. Raised in Tualatin, she studied business and merchandising at Oregon State University and marketing in Sweden, working in technical design for four years in New York. She started Johan as an online retailer while living in Brooklyn in 2012, opening a brick-and-mortar store in Southeast Portland in 2015. She moved Johan to downtown last year.
"The basis for how I buy at Johan is 'anything I would wear.' I have a lot of vintage mixed in, and I carry a lot of local designers. But it all started with this Scandinavian, minimal, androgynous aesthetic. A lot of pieces I have are unisex or gender neutral.
"I think a lot of women are feeling really empowered right now, that they don't have to follow any rules. That's sort of spilling over into fashion, and people are doing whatever they want. I don't know if that means women wearing men's clothing, or literally wearing a paper bag. It feels like people are being really creative."
Sherie Muijs and LLOYD
"Sherie Muijs is from New Zealand, and it's one of my favorite brands. It's one of the prime examples of unisex. All of her pieces in her lookbook are shown on a male and a female model. Lloyd is based out of Vancouver, B.C., and they show their garments on males. They use really boxy, big, natural materials like cotton, linen and raw silks."
New Portland Designers
"Open Air Museum is a local brand that started last spring. [Designer Shea Christner] is sourcing all of her fabrics from Japan. What she makes is really clean, simple and nicely done.
"I carry Laurs Kemp, but keep away from her boobs, butt and face prints. Anatomy is a trend right now, but I try and have things that you could wear in 10 years, that a 60-year-old or 18-year-old woman could wear.
"Another huge trend now, and going into spring, is deconstructed, almost half-assed-looking garments that sort of just look like you made it yourself. Amy Epperson is super-young and makes clothes under the label A Person. She made these herself."
"Stutterheim raincoats are always really popular; I'd say they're almost peaking. I've been carrying them since they launched them in the U.S."
"I try and bring new brands to Portland that are harder to find. I interned for Nina Z clogs back in New York. I think clogs are having a moment, but they have been for about 10 years. Clogs are just the perfect shoe for so many occasions. Women like them because there's a heel, so you feel dressed up. But they're also super-casual. You can wear them to weddings and to work or on a date. They work in every situation, and they're really comfortable.
For those who know their Yeezys from their Jordans, DePaula is an internationally recognized journalist who has interviewed legends like Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Tinker Hatfield. He grew up in Sacramento, studying journalism at the University of Oregon and moving to Portland in 2007 to work for sneakerhead mag Sole Collector. DePaula was hired as creative director for mega-popular sneaker site Nice Kicks in 2015.
"I think in Portland specifically, it's interesting because what we're seeing is what I call the 'high-low.' People will have one or two things that are really high-end, which they'll mix and match with H&M, Zara and Topman. Now, everybody's into different shades of sweatshirts, hoodies, whatever. That's stuff that all these stores can easily copy and adapt."
Common Projects Achilles Low
"When it comes to footwear in particular, Common Projects is something that's really always stuck out. The Achilles model is pretty awesome, and a lot of people adapt that. But to me, it's really only a small niche of people who are really into that stuff in Portland. A lot of people have ties to the brands, Nike and Adidas, of course."
Adidas Catching Up to Nike
"Until about two years ago, Portland was 100 percent Nike or Jordans. Now we're really seeing a lot of Ultra Boosts and a lot of Tubulars, with Yeezys here and there. Anyone who has tried Ultra Boost on at this point has been really into it."
The oddest thing, DePaula says, is the 25-year gap between Adidas and Nike. The favored Adidas styles are the new, future-thinking silhouettes. People who still wear Nike are wearing shoes designed in 1990.
"I've had people from Adidas joke about it, saying that if they could've colored the Boost foam, they would've made it neon with splatter, or something tacky. The fact that it is just white with navy upper, olive upper or gray upper makes the shoe look super-clean and reinforces the idea of Boost just being this white, foamy, comfortable thing."
Adidas NMD: Nice Kicks' 2016 Sneaker of the Year
"The NMD was the next one that really took off. It has a distinct look because of the two blocks on the side of the shoe. At $120, it was the model that people could roll the dice on and not flip out about it if they didn't like it. They're an easy shoe to kick around, and the blocks are just iconic when you're wearing them. Every year, Nice Kicks does a list of our top 50 shoes of the year, and these were our No. 1 of 2016."
"For the last two years, there has been a shift toward subtlety. When you look at everybody's clothing, no one wears logos anymore. If there are big graphics, it's an iconic print from that brand. For a long time, Adidas was going with blatant midfoot stripes on their stuff. But a lot of people didn't want that much branding screaming out. With Yeezy, there is no Yeezy logo, but you still just recognize the branding right away."
DePaula says this has hurt Nike. But the brand-new Nike LunarCharge has only a small swoosh on the heel, a reaction to this trend.