If you're shopping for clothes in Portland, you're spoiled for choice. Whether your style is vintage hip, forest tarot goth priestess, ultra-modern Scandinavian minimalist or jawnzhead, there's a specialty shop carrying the cream of the crop from local and international designers. Here's a roundup of new kids on the block—new meaning "opened in January 2015 or later"— that are joining the ranks of Portland's elite trendsetters.
3279 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-236-6120, altarpdx.com. 10 am-6 pm daily.
Altar is as much a cabinet of witchy curiosities as it is an emerging destination for sophisticated ready-to-wear fashion. Its cozy storefront's center displays are crowded with the boutique's specialty: hand-crafted statement jewelry, from necklace chains heavy with sterling skulls and crystals ($35-$345) to a sort of geometric pull-over gold metal net called a "body chain" ($695). Geometry is a theme here, as is dark magic and the elegance of the otherworldly: Quartz clusters and stacks of illustrated tarot cards ($9-$60) are arranged here and there between clothing racks—and, though mostly in varying shades of black, each blouse and dress in its handmade house line shines with individuality. ISABEL ZACHARIAS.
818 SW Broadway, 503-224-0531, baitme.com. 11 am-7 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-8 pm Friday-Saturday, 11 am-6 pm Sunday.
Bait's experiment in curated streetwear started in 2011 with stores in Southern California, but the regional chain expanded to the space across from Portland's long-running Zegna temple Marios just last year. It displays its more recognizable, limited-release Air Jordans in the window, and it's also one of the few places in town where you can try to land highly coveted Yeezy Boost silhouettes. But fundamentally, Bait is a shop for a sneakerhead's sneakerhead. Head inside and you'll find a shop filled with obscure silhouettes from brands that include ASICS, Reebok, New Balance and Puma. The store cuts the kicks with pop-culture iconography: superhero and NBA star minifigs, apparel plastered with cartoon and video game characters. It's all stylish and sleek, and smacks of nostalgia like a pop-culture candy shop. JORDAN GREEN.
729 SE Morrison St., shopboswell.us. Noon-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday, noon-4 pm Sunday.
Shop Boswell is the new retail experiment of high-order local hat designer Brookes Boswell, whose sundry background in architecture, fine art and textiles is clear from the articulated design of the space itself; the shop's walls are sheeted with natural light and lined with beautifully arranged items, practically up to the ceiling. Wanting to give the spot the feeling of an artist's studio rather than a store, Boswell curated (from more than 30 independent designers) a homogenous palette of pastels, generously oversized cuts and 1960s folk-art motifs. Shop Boswell specializes, of course, in hats—from of-the-moment felt safari styles ($198) to floppy straw sunhats ($70-$286)—but you'll also find touchable matte ceramic housewares ($16-$260), big, boxy shirt dresses ($125-$348), and delicate, hand-scented body care items (around $20). ISABEL ZACHARIAS.
111 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 971-229-4206, cosube.com. 6 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday, 6 am-6 pm Sunday.
This mashup of coffee shop, surf boutique and beer bar would be strange if it didn't make perfect sense. Coffee, waves, beer: If that sounds like the perfect day, Cosube has you covered. This brightly lit, immaculately organized storefront situated next to the looming Yard building offers the growing population of Portland surfers a place to shop for clothing from Katin USA, Levi's, Billabong and Dark Seas, then to talk sports with the friendly sales staff, baristas and bartenders.
The store has a little something for everyone in the form of affordable basics, knit sweaters, jackets and jeans for men and women ($20-$120)—not to mention Coava Coffee and Wi-Fi—but the focus is on surfing. The row of surfboards hover at around $800, and rental equipment is coming soon. Looking for a custom board? Cosube will put you in touch with a local shaper who might use the shop's in-house shaping bay so you can watch the process yourself. The bar and shaping bay are front and center on Thursday nights for live shaping happy hour (5-7 pm), when you can sip dollar-off drafts and watch someone's board come to life—maybe even your own. BRITANY ROBINSON.
J by The Collective
205 SW Pine St, 266-0969, bythecollective.com. Tue-Sun 11-7
Hailing itself a "modern haberdashery," The Collective offers a mishmash of services and products culled from a handful of partners. Retail-wise, the shop heavily features Jaefields clothing line, comprised of sporty shirts, shorts and outerwear designed and produced in-house by Wookie Fields. They keep a small space for shoes, where random pairs of Air Jordans have a tendency to pop up. The R/A Reflective Jacket ($140) and the newly released Black Collection have garnered considerable attention, particularly the Juneau long-sleeve flannel shirts ($105). Beyond retail, the shop also plays host to two stylist chairs, and offers apparel and visual content production. JORDAN GREEN.
632 SW Pine St., 503-222-0119, shopjohan.com. Noon-6 pm Monday and Wednesday-Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.
"I don't like promoting reckless consumption, so I try to bring in things that are worthy of being in the world," says Laura Housgard, proprietor of white-floored, white-walled avant boutique Johan. "If you're going to have waste, and use water and fabric and resources, it should be something you use for 10 years and get a lot of joy out of." Housgard takes a high-concept, high-quality approach to fashion, carrying garments, jewelry and ceramics designed in the tradition of Swedish minimalism. This means boxy (in a cool way), monochromatic and deconstructed dresses from Portland designers like Laurs Kemp and Shea Christner, and Swedish imports like clean-silhouette clogs from Nina Z and Portland-appropriate raincoats from Stutterheim, with a healthy dose of hand-picked vintage items thrown in for good measure.
1960 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-946-1153. Noon-7 pm Monday-Saturday, 2-6 pm Sunday.
For more than 20 years, Magpie was the place you'd sell your finest, weirdest and most dandified vintage clothes—and also where you'd buy them; a wunderland for Japanese tourists looking for authentic America. But the newly branded, high-rent West End had no place for it, and so Magpie was forced to jump the river in May to…actually, a way better location, with more room and more character and appropriately deco architecture, amid the secondhand and antique shops of Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard. Governed by the particular and discerning tastes of owner Todd Wooley, Magpie is a menagerie of rocker boots, flapper shoes, '40s party dresses, loud suits, furs, Burt Reynolds mustaches, designer neckties and vintage jewelry—a tightly curated collection arranged thematically and often seasonally with uncommon attention. But the store's finest feature, perhaps, is the price tags—each one with a reminder, an instruction, or a gentle nudge. "Hit the courts and play ball with the boys in these little purple athletic shorts," reads one. "$14." MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
2774 NW Thurman St., neapolitanshop.com. Noon-5 pm Wednesday-Friday, 11 am-5 pm Saturday-Sunday.
At the heart of this teeny-tiny shop is an even teeny-tinier company: Rachel Sees Snail Shoes, the custom sandal-making venture of local cobbler-designer Rachel Corry, who also co-founded the Pansy underwear label. Like its namesake ice cream, Neapolitan is layered with colors; the super-saturated blacks, reds and blues of Corry's sandals ($150-$240) play kaleidoscopically with the muted mustard and rust of the cotton Pansy undies ($39-$48) they're interspersed with. On top of these two focal point lines, the shop carries ceramics from the adjacent Thurman Street artist studios (which you can even peek into via one of Neapolitan's windows), as well as vintage jewelry from OKO, bags from Stanley & Sons and Laura Schoorl, and sandal-making kits Corry assembled herself ($135)—her ultimate goal is to liberate beautiful, custom shoemaking for the masses. ISABEL ZACHARIAS.
1136 SW Alder St., 503-954-3398, shopwmgoods.com. 11 am-6 pm Monday-Saturday, 11 am-5 pm Sunday.
Wandering around WM Goods might feel like you've just been let loose in Miranda's closet, with its racks and shelves filled with straight, boxy skirts, brocade jackets and chunky sweaters that would've been casual wear for the most underappreciated cast member on Sex in the City. The West End shop, its wood floors and copper pipe clothing displays bathed in natural light from two walls of windows, feels a bit like shopping inside a yoga studio. Its niche is looking beyond the pool of local designers to feature brands that aren't readily available elsewhere in Portland. One example is Copenhagen-based Ganni, which offers a range of pieces from minimalist and laid-back to flowing and feminine. For instance, the Yoshe Jacket in Iris ($109) has a roomy, straight cut—its oversized breast pockets and collar mimicking a classic denim coat that hits at the hip, but a lighter linen-cotton blend could carry it into spring layered over a Parisian-inspired black- and white-striped boatneck sweater. A fluttery, pine-hued Marietta Georgette wrap dress ($190) with a floral pattern in muted pinks and cream features a plunging neckline and above-the-knee hem, but long sleeves for balance, that could also transition nicely as the temperatures warm—pairing well with both tall boots and peep-toe heels. There's more than clothing and accessories in this self-described "one-stop shop for rad ladies," whom I picture surrounded by WM Goods' all-white Simply Curated candles ($32), shading the The Mindfulness Coloring Book and drinking a cup of coffee made with a Wolf Ceramics pourover ($44). If shopping alone doesn't bring you zen, head over to the apothecary section for Moon Juice Spirit Dust ($30), a powder you mix into drinks that may "help you unwind, expand awareness and align with bliss." ANDI PREWITT.
722 N Killingsworth St., 971-266-3492. 11 am-6 pm Thursday-Tuesday.
Closet-sized Zero Wave looks like an edgy SoHo art gallery straight out of Desperately Seeking Susan—but the only real exhibit is a very particular kind of life, dissected and carefully displayed on the walls. On one side there are the vintage amps, distortion pedals and rare guitars, though sadly not the black Eastwood Stormbird stolen this August. An Eraserhead T-shirt looms over the window, in front of vintage-T racks containing bootleg Nike Air shirts and old heather gray Reebok shirts. But on our visit, the only actual shoes were purple clogs and pale booties.
Another rack seems to contain Winona Ryder's entire wardrobe from Heathers. Sunglasses are the fun kind, worn by party girls long ago; it is a store filled with nostalgia less wistful than kicky. A 1988 People magazine yearbook featuring an ebullient Lady Di sits near a rack of VHS cassettes for Tremors or RoboCop. Co-owner Beth Ann Morgan not only curates but repairs, retailors or sashiko-stitcheds her garments into a very specific vision of yesterday. Almost everything in the store on our visit was the same size: skinny. (Co-owner Devin Welch says, however, they try to buy for all body types of men and women and will hunt down pieces in specific sizes on request.) It is a place that could have few true customers, but one imagines that those seven women might build their whole lives in this store, one Care Bears sweatshirt at a time. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.