A month into this column, and one city keeps popping up among the boutique owners, shoppers and #influencers in Portland's fashion scene. It isn't anywhere in California; it's New York City.
Whether it's a boutique owner who visits twice a year to buy new collections in the fashion district's warehouses or a streetwear guy who excitedly tells me it's the best city on the planet, New York and Portland's fashion scenes have a connection that's deeper than the traditional love-hate relationship with the Golden State.
What's the deal? I asked brand-new New York emigre Shana Tabor, owner of North Williams' jewelry and women's wear boutique In God We Trust—or, IGWT—about the connection.
But first, IGWT, which has sat quietly next to Tasty and Sons on North Williams since opening in May. So far, the store has received little fanfare.
This is strange, as IGWT has been a mainstay of Brooklyn's fashion scene for over 10 years, with a shop in Williamsburg since 2005, and a second in Greenpoint. Gothamist called IGWT one of New York's "12 Best Local Clothing Labels" and Refinery 29 called it "One of New York City's fashion institutions."
Stroll into the boutique and you'll see why. Tabor and her team design and manufacture all of IGWT's jewelry and clothing in their Brooklyn-based workshop. Tabor's jewelry designs are minimal, yet carry themselves with a strong "fuck you" attitude. A brass collar ($120) necklace looks like a choker, while brass heart pendants ($40) from Tabor's Sweet Nothings line come hand-engraved with messages like "Eat A Dick."
IGWT's clothes carry a similar aesthetic. A dark blue wool overcoat ($405) is classically elegant, but graced with exposed seams and imposing pockets. A black, knee-length faux-shearling "blob" coat ($480) channels aggressive avant-garde while maintaining a feminine silhouette.
So why make running two successful boutiques in New York that much harder by moving cross country? In Tabor's case, it has to do with the Portland lifestyle, that being that we have space for things like yards and trees.
"You guys have everything a New Yorker complains we don't have," says Tabor. "Even if you can rent something in New York for the same amount of money, you can rent for here, it's going to involve way more space, a back yard."
Tabor purchased the Williams property in 2009 after her brother and mother relocated here, but remained in New York after the brand took off in the late 2000s. She pulled the trigger on moving this year after having twins three years ago, the inconveniences of New York becoming too obnoxious with young children.
"In New York, you have to jump over hurdles to do something easy and simple," says Tabor. "Living there is really difficult, and people that survive that sort of thrive on it. But when you stop thriving on it, it's time to leave and find the place you can thrive."
Yet, the adjustment isn't one out of Portland being the Next Big Thing (again). Though IGWT's Brooklyn stores will remain open, Tabor believes that the future of her stores may lie in Portland's ethos.
"On a personal level, I'm just really excited to make this move and to see this business happen, and be a part of it," says Tabor. "I don't want this to be perceived as some New York store that's jumping on the bandwagon and opening up a store in Portland. For me, it's way more personal."