Hutchinson eschews classic forms in favor of postmodernist distortion, working with asymmetrical lines and deconstructed shapes, often incorporating multiple silhouettes in a single garment to create an effect that evades easy labeling in any genre. "The other day someone said it was like a marriage between Rick Owens and Jil Sander," Hutchinson said. "That was sort of flattering. But I don't think about fashion like that. I have an initial idea, and then it just takes on it's own life. It's art." On Mari, clockwise from top: 1) Bias-cut raindrop dress by Sara Shepherd; 2) Rouched front dress with pockets by Jules Elin; 3) Bell sleeve wrap jacket by Jules Elin; 4) Corset skirt with teal detail by Shaye; 5) Kit leather button boots by Al's Attire; 6) Brown leather hotpants by Shaye; 7) Black leather jacket with sleeve zippers by Mi; 8) Polka dot hat by Al's Attire; 9) Zipper-front dress by Turk+Taylor. Underwear and socks by American Apparel.
ECO-FRIENDLY FOR EVERYDAY
Jules Elin's designs for women are simple and casual, without sacrificing style. The ideal wearer seems to be someone who is practical and comfortable but can appreciate the occasional coquettish detail — like a bell sleeve or a floral lining — on an otherwise unembellished piece.
While Elin is conscious of seasonal trends, there is nothing overtly "fashion-y" about her classic silhouettes: a swing coat is spruced up with extra-large buttons, a zippered jacket is adorned with a ruffled Peter Pan collar, and both are stylish without coming across as self-consciously en vogue. Elin's pieces are made with organic cotton and get bonus points for not having to be dry-cleaned. On being called an eco-designer, Elin reflects, "I never really thought of it as being progress; I thought it was the right thing to do."
When it comes to the designs themselves, San Francisco is always an inspiration. "There's a lot of movement and architecture to the pieces," she says. "But they're also really sweet in a way that matches the demographic of this city." And it's Bay Area weather that determines the length of Elin's sleeves: always long enough to be worn over the hands when it's cold. San Franciscans are responding positively in turn, and even the dire economy hasn't slowed the growth of her brand. "It's just made me realize I can always work harder."
CLASSIC SF DAYWEAR
When examining Turk+Taylor's well-edited collections of sustainable, nouveau-preppy clothes, the aesthetic appears so cohesive you could never tell that they nearly always result from a disagreement between the designers, Andrew Soernsen and Mark Lee Morris. "We fight all the time," Soernsen proclaims. "We end up yelling." During our interview, Soernsen and Morris often contradicted one another while answering the same questions — even the straightforward ones. "But somehow," says Morris, "it all comes together."
Soernsen and Morris don't have fashion degrees. "We can't sew. We aren't pattern-makers." The two designers run their business out of Soernsen's apartment in NoPa, where boxes of samples are stacked on the floor, racks of clothes clutter every room, and eco-friendly fabrics perilously overflow from shelves and surfaces. Somehow, amid the jumble, they've managed to create beautiful collections of casual daywear year after year.