Indie City: Ilana Kohn

Earlier this year I made a new friend—as in a new fashion friend. While I haven't met designer Ilana Kohn in person, I've become well acquainted with her versatile, cutting-edge, modern clothing line. I discovered her remarkable wares while on a San Francisco shopping excursion at Legion, a women's boutique in Chinatown. Immediately, I was wowed by the comfort factor and fashion-forward nature of Kohn's work. 

A relatively new line that evolved in 2011 following Kohn's illustrator career, this clothing line has the touch of a fine artist. With smart but subtle prints and sophisticated solids, it's the kind of line that you can wear all year long. 

Legion in San Francisco is carrying several items from the fall collection and you can see more of Kohn's work online at Ilanakohn.com.

Indie City: Dealtry

Indie City is a monthly column featuring unique independent designers and artisans, and written by Sydney Pfaff, owner of LEGION in San Francisco.

There are a handful of lines out there that feel more like fine art to me than just clothing or accessories. One that never ceases to amaze me is Dealtry. An artist at heart, Helen Dealtry hand paints beautiful designs, mixing abstract shapes with geometric patterns, and then digitally prints them on scarves. And these aren't just any scarves—they're an ultra-lightweight blend of cashmere and modal. Though they're light in weight, they're large enough to wrap two or three times, making them suitable for any season (especially in places like San Francisco, where women are more than likely to stash a scarf in their purse on any given day, no matter the season). 

Helen's new fall line is the most amazing yet, in my opinion. She gravitated towards black or beige backgrounds with pops of neon pink and yellow, and hints of red, purple, and blue. A couple of them have floral motifs, but she manages to mix in lines and grids to perfectly balance the abstract and geometric themes. There are four new designs for fall and we're lucky enough to have each of them at Legion.

Sydney Pfaff is a San Francisco-based shop owner (www.legionsf.com) and freelance writer (www.sydneypfaff.com). 

Indie City: Cold Picnic

Indie City is a monthly column featuring unique independent designers and artisans, and written by Sydney Pfaff, owner of LEGION in San Francisco.

I came across Cold Picnic while on a quick research trip to Los Angeles last year. When I opened LEGION, I knew I needed the line in my shop. The founders of the line, Phoebe Sung and Peter Buer, truly are a dynamic duo. How many couples have you met that could live and work together day in and day out? Not many, I'm sure. And to work together to create such an incredible line of products—everything from macramé plant hangers to hand-knotted wall hangings to handmade jewelry—that’s impressive.

The pair met in 2006 while at college in Boston and have been working together ever since. With backgrounds in fashion design, they started Cold Picnic while owning their own shop in Brooklyn. They simply needed to fill the shop with merchandise, so they made their own. After they closed the shop, it developed into so much more. The 1970s craft movement and American films of the same decade have heavily influenced the line, and they describe the brand as “nostalgic but modern.” They make each piece by hand in their Brooklyn studio, except for the metal jewelry, which is cast in Manhattan by a family-owned business.

Their latest collection, dubbed “The Return of Han-Sur-Lesse,” carries on their playful aesthetic in the form of leather-cord necklaces, colorful art hangings, and painted leather totes. They’ve added bright new colors to their assortment of brass-and-enamel jewelry, including coral, lime, and lavender. A few of my favorites include the colorblock rope plant hangers, the painted caves pendant, and all of their unique stud earrings. Keep an eye on these two—with their combined talent and creativity, Cold Picnic is definitely a line to watch.

Indie City: Feral Childe

Indie City is a monthly column featuring unique independent designers and artisans, and written by Sydney Pfaff, owner of LEGION in San Francisco.

Sometimes a line comes along that you fall in love with, just head over heels in love with every single piece from every single collection. For me, that line is Feral Childe. Though they’re not a new line by any means—originally conceived in 2002, they didn’t start creating full collections until 2008—it’s definitely one to add to your list of closet keepers if you haven't done so already.

Each piece is made in New York, but it is technically a bi-coastal brand. One half of the designer duo, Alice Wu, lives in Oakland, while the other, Moriah Carlson, lives in Brooklyn. They place heavy emphasis on sustainability and ethical business practices, while keeping a playful sensibility. The collections are built around their unique textiles, which are inspired by their original drawings, collages, and paintings. The painstaking attention to detail in the construction of each garment is delightful—with every wear, you may discover a new tiny illustration within the print; or realize that the fabric is not just plain old cotton, but an upcycled blend made from bottles; or that the previously overlooked button on your pants is made of a tagua nut and quite spectacular.

True to their playfulness, the spring prints (pictured here) took cues from their original artwork of depicting dodo birds, Mars rovers, ancient Mayan ruins, and other unexpected creations. Each piece is made of natural fibers, such as hand-loomed and organic cotton, silk linen, and hemp, and the color palette features earthy tones with elegant pops of maroon and rust.

You can find the current Feral Childe collection at Hawthorne in Oakland, Workshop in Sausalito and Cameron Marks in Santa Cruz. And we are beyond excited to start carrying their line at LEGION in the fall. The fall collection may be one of my favorites yet, so stay tuned for coverage on it later this summer.

Indie City: Evens

Indie City is a monthly column featuring unique independent designers and artisans, and written by Sydney Pfaff, owner of LEGION in San Francisco.

It’s true that Austin and Marfa are the top spots in Texas getting major art and design cred these days, but they aren’t the only ones deserving—Houston’s not to be overlooked. There are many talented designers and artists in the southern city and my favorite among them is Kate de Para, designer of Evens, a covetable line of women’s apparel and accessories.

Kate makes fuss-free pieces with a timeless sensibility. Think boxy short-sleeve tops and silky t-shirt dresses in neutral color palettes. And she doesn’t just design her collection—she designs, dyes, cuts, and sews the line from her Houston studio.

With a background in textile science and sculpture, topped off with a meticulous eye for detail, each Evens piece feels truly artful. There’s a noticeable intention to every stitch, shape, color, and splatter of paint, which I find dreamy and rare in clothing these days. The line’s name comes from her interest in finding balance and is pronounced like the word of the same meaning, “Even,” but plural. Kate finds much of her inspiration throughout Texas and uses a mixture of techniques throughout each collection, such as digital printing, hand and salt dyeing, and screen print.

In addition to her spring collection, now available in stores (yes, mine is one of them!), she’ll be releasing a capsule collection for summer in the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for Evens—knowing Kate, it’s only going to get better.
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Sydney Pfaff is a San Francisco-based shop owner (www.legionsf.com) and freelance writer (www.sydneypfaff.com).