The other distinguishing factor about Ribaya's shop is that he outfits people from head to toe. Using the same effort, energy, and remarkable focus, he makes everything from shoes crafted with soles of repurposed tire treads or turn-of-the-century buttons to suits, shirts, pants, jackets, skirts, and dresses. He even makes hats from suit fabric remnants. Every garment is custom labeled with the wearer's name (alongside Al's, of course). But despite all this retro hard work (and handiwork), Ribaya's styles are remarkably fresh and modern. On Lawrence, clockwise from top: 1) Striped hat by Al's Attire; 2) Double-pocket zippered denim shirt by Turk+Taylor; 3) Chambray golf jacket by Al's Attire; 4) Dark denim jeans by Mi, 5) Silver wing-tip shoes by Al's Attire; 6) Seersucker shorts by Turk+Taylor, 7) Brown leather jacket by Mi; 8) Avocado tee by Turk+Taylor. Underwear and socks by American Apparel.
FORM AND FUNCTION
What if one piece of clothing could be worn seven different ways? What would happen if you took a jacket and turned it upside-down? Or backward? These are the questions that the innovative, boundary-breaking creative minds at Harputs Collective have been asking. Their answer— called the swacket —hangs beside an oversized mirror in the airy industrial Harputs Own shop. The collective members are waiting for curious customers to come and play with the architectural sweater/jacket outerwear—putting it on backward, changing the swooping collar into a hood, then flipping it upside-down and adding a belt, until the most flattering fit is found.
The studio was started in September, a serendipitous confluence of a few thoughtful designers, a retiring tailor who stocked the store with fabrics and machinery, and an established high-end retailer with such a sense of play he will dye garments from New York lines when they are past season just to see if they will sell better in indigo than white. Our favorite part? A garment that fits well and can be worn several ways is less likely to go out of style — and therefore inspires us to consume less. (Our least favorite? They declined to participate in our fashion shoot. But we love 'em anyway.)
Mi Concept's visionary pieces are offered as a bespoke capsule collection for people who appreciate fashion-forward, cutting-edge design — and who aren't afraid to look like time travelers from some distant utopian future.
Before designing any piece of clothing, Dean Hutchinson, creative director of the Mi Concept, asks himself, "How do I stimulate conversation?" The purpose, Hutchinson, says, is to challenge people to think beyond fashion. It must be working: ever since Mi Concept emerged at 808 Sutter last December, conversation and buzz have followed.
Peek inside the unmarked store and you'll find an eerie modernist sarcophagus illuminated by fluorescent tubes, where dauntingly expensive-looking clothes cling to hangers as if worn by invisible ghosts. Together the space and the clothing create a synthesis of progressive, modern design.